02 Jun 2015

What *Not* to Do in Couchsurfing Requests

A post on bad Couchsurfing requests and what to avoid when writing them.

This is Part 5 of the 8-part Beginner’s Guide to Couchsurfing:
1. Introduction to the Guide
2. What Couchsurfing Is & How it Works
3. Getting Started and What Hosts Want
4. How to Write a Great Couchsurfing Profile
5. Examples: What *Not* To Do in Couchsurfing Requests
6. How to Write a Great Couchsurfing Request
7. How to Make Sure Your Couchsurfing Experience is 100% Safe
8. Isn’t Couchsurfing Dangerous For Women?

What Not to Do in Couchsurfing Requests

Before diving into good requests, let’s look at some really bad requests and some mediocre requests. These are not requests I’ve written but ones that I’ve received in real life.

Examples: The Worst Requests

Example I

Hello Neha, I am a Phd student at Oxford, unfortunately I dont have a place to stay for the following days (because my life is a disaster right now) and the office is not comfortable enough :p

Best Alfonso

Example II

Hi Neha!

Me and a friend of mine are visiting England and we are looking for a place to sleep on monday’s evening in Oxford !

Could you help us ? =P

Requests of this type usually have the same things in common: they’re “copy and paste” not personalized, and sadly, approach Couchsurfing as a hotel-type service.

Couchsurfing embraces meeting new people, sharing cultures, learning from each other. So it’s never, ever effective to message a surfer simply asking for a place to sleep. At it’s heart, Couchsurfing is about engaging with people, not about sleeping for free. These requests are usually tossed aside or never replied to. To avoid this, invest time in personalizing your requests, and talk about your interest in meeting and learning from each other.

Examples: Mediocre Requests

Example I

Hi Neha !

We are two french students, Doriane & Pierre, and we’re travelling around UK for one month:)

We would like discover Oxford from 26/08 to 27/08 and we would like meet some locals because it’s the opportunity for us to experience UK in the eyes of a local.

We’re sorry ; we haven’t favorite movies because theire are too many great films !!

We don’t speak English very well but it’s for us a good opening to progress ; )

Thanks for your answer !

Pierre & Doriane

Example II

Hey Neha!

Love your profile. Positive psychology? I wish I studied that!

So I’m a Peace Corps volunteers who has been serving in a small, desert town in Morocco for the past 20 months. I’m traveling to France with my aunt mid-Sept, and on the way back to Morocco I thought to make a pit stop in Oxford to see the Bodleain library :-). It’s been a dream of mine to walk around Oxford University’s campus and amble inside its libraries, so I really hope that I can do this for a day!

It would be lovely to spend two nights with you– on the 26th I fly out at 16:30 from London, so I’ll leave pretty early that day.

How does that sound?

Thanks! 🙂


Example III

Hi Neha,

My name is Alex I am a German physics student, and I’ll work on my Master Disertation (one year), beginning in September. I use the profile of my girlfriend and me but I will travel alone. Unfortunately, it is very very hard to find an accomodation in Oxford when you can’t visit the rooms :-(. That’s I would need for the first nights an accomodation.

I have already studied in England (York) as an Erasmus student last year and enjoyed my time very much. That’s why I have decided to come back to the UK for one more year. If I were to choose a few things to describe my interests, I’d say I like to do sports, I enjoy travelling/new cultures and meeting new people (I am very curious).

I think my friends would describe me that I am clean, respectful of other spaces, reliable, sociable and willing to share experience.

It would be very cool if I could sleep some nights at your flat (but not more than 2-3 nights).

Cheers, Alex

The Good Elements

All of the requests seem to give some indication that they’ve read my profile. That’s a good sign!

The Bad Elements

Overall, all of these requests are ‘copy and paste’ requests, which most hosts hate receiving. They simply aren’t personalized enough. Additionally, she would do well in focusing less on herself, and rather, the person she’s appealing to. A fantastic fix would be to point out what she can offer the host, what she finds fascinating about the host, or what she can teach the host, before talking about what the host can do for her.

These types of requests are basically okay – and nothing more than that. If I was fully free that day, I would likely accept them. But there’s nothing compelling about these requests that would make me choose it over other requests and surely nothing compelling that would make me try and accept these guests if I had a conflict.

With these types of requests, you have a 50/50% chance of getting hosted – perhaps more if you’re visiting a less touristy location and surely less if you’re visiting a touristy location.

How to Write a Good Request

With the examples of bad requests behind us, let’s talk about how to do it properly.

Check out the next page of the guide: How to Write a Great Request.

Other Posts in This Series: