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Malaysians simply love the idea of travelling on a budget, however, with the increasing cost of living and salaries that are merely enough to make ends meet, many individuals pass through the prime of their lives, only to later regret about not making the decision to see the world sooner!

Well, the power is in your hands to change things around. One of the easiest ways that a traveller can utilise to visit several countries while being budget-conscious, is to couch surf.

Couchsurfing is a hospitality and social networking service accessible via a website and mobile app. Members can use the service to arrange homestays, offer lodging as well as hospitality. Hosts are not allowed to charge for lodging as the platform works based on a gift economy.

This means of travel offers invaluable experiences; the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, create bonds from across the world and is poised as a chance for you to experience a myriad of cultures, guided by locals in unique destinations around the globe.

Take a glance at some of these tips that can steer you in the right direction to become a model couch surfer!


Plan in Advance

Once you have informed a particular host that you will be putting up at their place for the night or for a couple of days, don't forget to let them know in advance about the time and day that you will be arriving.

This gives a host enough time to prepare a place for you to rest for the night. The worst thing you can do is to arrive earlier or later than expected, as one must remember that the host is doing a favour for you and that they have their personal lives to tend too as well!

There are instances whereby plans may change or an emergency may occur. In such cases, stay in touch with your host and inform them of what has happened. For all you know they just might be able to help you out with your situation, even if it means that you may have to cancel your stay with them.


Be Courteous 

Being polite is one of the most important things one should practice when Couchsurfing. However, at times what some couch surfers fail to understand is that politeness is not only displayed through speech but also in actions. Basically what this means is that one should never cause displeasure to your host by stepping over your boundary.

Always remember that you are being invited into someone’s sanctuary, thus you should treat the space just like how you would like others to behave in your own space. Things that you can do include; keeping the premises clean, always asking permission before you eat or drink anything that isn't yours, and always asking the host’s permission before inviting anyone into the premises.


Immerse in local Ongoings

When you visit a certain country as a tourist, it is understandable that one would stay within your comfort zone and rely on local tour guides to show you around. However, things can change when you couch surf!

Grab the opportunity to get out as much as you can with your host and absorb the local culture just as the locals would! Never be afraid to ask your host questions and most importantly experience as much as you can on a first-hand basis!


Share Responsibilities

The last thing that any host would want is a guest that is a freeloader. Always remember that you are staying within someone’s residence for absolutely no cost at all!

The least you can do is to reduce a host’s burden by sharing household responsibilities, especially if your stay is for a longer period.

You can offer to cook a few meals that are unique to where you come from, feed the pets while the host is out and about if they have any, do the dishes, and even give provide some home improvement tips.

If this is really not your thing and you would like to sit back and relax, it is best for you to opt for a budget hotel.


Decline Politely

As much as you enjoy being a sport and that it is encouraged for one to be inclusive when you couch surf, always remember that it is okay for you to subtly decline.

When in doubt, trust your gut feeling and if you find that something is off, always remember that you should politely state your concerns to the host and proceed to look for another place that you are more comfortable with.

Therefore don't worry, if you find that the place that you are given to sleep in is infested with pests or worse has bed bugs, do not jeopardise your health! Immediately inform the host and look for another place that you can stay for the night.


Have a great time!

Despite the nervousness that some first-time couch surfers may feel prior to a trip, the experiences and exposure that one can receive from Couchsurfing can actually provide so much fun! However, remember to stay polite, share responsibilities and be inclusive with your host and the local community.

To those that have couch surfed before but may have faced an experience that is less than ideal, cheer up and change your mindset! Don't allow one bad apple to ruin the many amazing experiences that you may have in future on your next couch-surfing trip. Don't wait for any longer plan your trip now!

For those that would like to make some extra cash through a spare room within your residence, one could list your space on short term rental platforms like Airbnb. If you are interested in doing so and starting your investment journey do read this - 9 'Dos' to Succeed as an Airbnb Host.

Also read:

How to Care for Your Home Before You Travel
Spice up Your Investment Plan - Consider a Royal Themed Homestay!

(By Viknesh Ashley Clarence, 26 September 2019)


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COurchsurfing.... is it like airbnb?