There are several affordable options for travelers on a budget. This is why many people opt for Airbnb and Couchsurfing. However, are these options as dreamy as they seem?
Is It Legal?
Couchsurfing is perfectly fine, as it is a platform that allows people to share their place with travelers from all over the world. On the other hand, Airbnb may have several issues, so additional checking is in order. Is the service legal in your country? Is the host subletting their space, even though they are not allowed to do so? Ask these questions and get satisfying answers before moving forward.
What Are the Meals Like?
When it comes to Couchsurfing, you are, as the name implies, given a couch to crash on – nothing more and nothing less. You are in charge of everything else. Sometimes, some hosts may go the extra mile to accommodate you, but you should not count on this. Remember, you are using their bed without paying them, so there’s only so far a person can go to please a perfect stranger.
Airbnb promotes local cuisine, though there is no way to verify whether the host is on the level without risking it. You are normally granted the use of a kitchen to prepare your meals, so crunch the numbers and see whether this option is right for you.
Are the Safety Regulations Met?
Neither of the two is a hotel. You have to do a lot of guesswork to see whether the place is safe from the elements. This isn’t easy, as photos of the location can only tell you so much. It is also a good idea not to bring any valuables that cannot be easily replaced, as these places offer no security and no guarantees for the lost items. As we’ve mentioned before, neither Airbnb nor Couchsurfing are hotels, so there is no set standard of service. Granted, people who want to work for Airbnb have to meet a few requirements first, but they are nowhere as rigorous as the official establishments.
Is It Safe?
For the most part, Airbnb is run by people who want to make some money on the side and they tend to leave their guests to their own devices, depending on whether you have a shared room, a private room, or the entire house/apartment and their own nature.
On the other hand, Couchsurfing urges its users to be careful and quit the trip the minute they sense red flags. If you feel at all unsure or uncomfortable, you should probably trust your gut. After all, you are getting into the house of a person you don’t know from Adam and vice versa. Care is advised.
Do I Have to Offer My Couch?
Some users wish to welcome foreigners, and that’s fine. The important thing is that you have no obligation to do so. When you register on Couchsurfing, you can choose whether you want to make your couch or spare room available to people that want to visit your city. These options are there to make the people feel comfortable and to account for the fact that not all of us have that much spare room. Offer your couch only if you are certain you want to do so.