couchsurfing alternatives 2018

Best Free Hospitality Exchange Websites: 9 Couchsurfing Alternatives in 2024

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Last Updated on 13 June 2024 by Cycloscope

best free hospitality websites
One Indian, one Filipina, and two Italians in Seoul. The Power of Couchsurfing

9 alternatives to Couchsurfing: how to find free accommodation online.
The best hospitality Exchange Network websites in 2024

Couchsurfing alternatives are still hard to find, we’ll try to give you a complete list of hospitality exchange networks you could try. Most of you probably already know Couchsurfing and the concept of free-hospitality networks, if you don’t I’ll explain to you briefly.

Couchsurfing and its alternatives are mostly based on a simple concept: each user has a profile, where interests and personal information are listed, and people can contact each other asking for a free stay. On Couchsurfing, people are expected not to just take someone else hospitality as a free hostel, but to interact, share, and always remember they are guests.

Users write each other reviews, called references, where they can highlight the good and the bad of their interaction with other Couchsurfers, hosts write references for the guests, and vice-versa. These references are public and everybody can see them in the user’s profile.

Couchsurfing worked great for many years, we used it a lot and mostly had great experiences, while some were so-so, and only one was fairly bad.

Couchsurfing is a huge global community of 14 million people in more than 200,000 cities, there are Couchsurfers almost everywhere in the world, and it still is the best way to find free accommodation worldwide.


So why should one be looking for alternatives to Couchsurfing?


Couchsurfing has been recently criticized by many for several reasons. It passed from being a non-profit organization to a for-profit company in 2011, raising a big debate among its users, with some members basically purged from the platform for their intense criticism.

Couchsurfing now charges a one-time fee to be a verified member and a fee that you can pay annually or monthly to use the platform.

Another criticism that has struck Couchsurfing lately, pushing many users to look for alternatives, is that it is being used more and more like a dating site.

A lot of male members only accept female guests, girls are not feeling safe anymore, and being hosted as solo male travelers is becoming challenging. Read more here about using Couchsurfing as a solo female traveler.

As a couple with a strong online presence, and an odd way of traveling (by bicycle), we still have a good positive response rate on Couchsurfing, people look at our blog and social profiles and some are curious to meet us. But, for instance, we met a guy who hosted us in Seoul who couldn’t find a couch despite having hundreds of references as a host.


The Best Hospitality-Exchange Platforms in 2024


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Having a cold shower with our amazing Wasmshowers host in Miri, Malaysian Borneo

Warmshowers


The most active of all the networks listed here, it’s only catered towards touring cyclists. The community is non-profit and it was completely free to join (now to be hosted you need to pay a small fee, it is valid for life). Warmshowers.org has given us some amazing experiences and lifetime friends and we are still active hosts at the moment.

There are hosts available in each country, although some are obviously more active than others. The process works just like Couchsurfing, each member has a personal profile from where she/he can send requests and/or approve guests.

Requests are sent personally to each member and the response rate is pretty high. People on Warmshower are used to the touring cyclist’s needs, making this network the top choice for bicycle travelers.


Teachsurfing


TeachSurfing allows travelers, refugees, and locals to share their knowledge and skills with schools, nonprofit organizations, and communities while gaining unique social and cultural experiences and creating local connections.

How does it work?

As a person who wants to share knowledge, you can indicate your skills, location, and travel plans. As a member of a school, NGO, or any local community, you can post your learning needs and interests.

Via the TeachSurfing platform, both sides can find and contact each other to organize knowledge-sharing events. Afterward, they can report their success stories to inspire more people.

The website is still small but the premises are very promising. Right now there are 206 No-Profit organizations ready to host travelers.


Hostwriter


best hospitality websites

Hostwriter is an amazing project. It’s a global network for media professionals, connecting journalists to easily seek and offer help, whether in the form of story collaboration, local advice, or even accommodation.

All journalists provide work samples by way of professional verification, you don’t need to be an official journalist, but submitting an article is mandatory to be accepted. Membership is free of charge.

Hostwriter is deeply involved in human-rights causes and supports exiled journalists.


Bewelcome


Much more user-friendly than most, BeWelcome seems to most valid Couchsurfing alternative out there. The search function works pretty well, and it also has a map interface, which is by far my favorite way to look for places to stay in general.

BeWelcome is operated by BeVolunteer, a nonprofit organization organized as a voluntary association registered in Rennes, France, which is composed solely of volunteers.

Since it is operated as a non-profit organization, the site has been described as a “less-capitalist alternative” to CouchSurfing. After Couchsurfing International Inc., which operates Couchsurfing.com, became a for-profit organization in 2011, some members urged others to join BeWelcome. Registration is free.

Members can contact each other for information about the offered accommodation and to request to stay. After the guest completes a stay, the host and guest have the option of leaving references for each other which are posted publicly, providing for an online reputation, just like on Couchsurfing.


Staydu


Another hybrid platform, with this German website you can host or be hosted in exchange for light work, a fee, or for free, it’s up to the host to decide. It’s a good solution for longer-term stays, The website looks modern and cool.


Servas


couchsurfing alternatives 2018
A Servas meeting

Servas made history, it has been around since before the color TV. It was created in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler, with the aim of working actively for peace and social justice, with other peace movements they came up with the idea of a work-study travel system that made it possible for people of various nations to travel in a more thoughtful way, by visiting the homes of hosts offering hospitality.

Servas recommends that guests apply at least 4 weeks in advance of travel. To be accepted in Servas, two letters of reference, a personal interview with a local Servas coordinator, and a membership fee are required, (the fee varies by country).

After the interview, the traveler gets a “letter of introduction” that’s good for one year of travel, and a list of hosts in the countries he or she is visiting.

Travelers contact prospective hosts in advance (lead time varies as defined by each host), giving estimated dates of travel, and they may be asked to reconfirm one or two days in advance.

They can stay with hosts for up to 3 days and 2 nights. Hosts provide sleeping space. Meals may be provided as well as assistance in visiting the city or area. At the end of their trip, Servas travelers are expected to provide a report to the local coordinator with any information that might be useful.

The process involved is pretty complex and time-consuming, but this is a very serious network that will surely provide some great experiences.


Horizon


best couchsurfing alternatives 2018

Another innovative concept is that of the Horizon App. It basically helps you get in touch with people you’re already connected to somehow. It scans your social network profiles to see if some friend of a friend or member of a group you’re in is available to host you.

That almost completely solves the problem of trust involved in the most popular hospitality networks like Couchsurfing. At the moment Horizon requires a mandatory Login-With-Facebook, so all those who don’t use Zuckerberg’s platform are excluded. They claim this will change shortly.

People are invited to donate an amount of choice to charity for each night of free stay they get.


Working Traveller – a hybrid between volunteering, job opportunities, and free hospitality



Working Traveller allows travelers to negotiate what they would get in exchange for their skills from hosts. The site allows hosts to set what they are willing to pay, in terms of a bed, food, or money using a barter point system, while a traveler can set what barter points they want to charge.

This sets this platform on a different level from more classic volunteering or hospitality sites, being more appealing to skilled travelers looking for references and pocket money, and hosts in need of a certain professionality.


LGBTQ+ Alternatives to Couchsurfing


gay alternatives to couchsurfing
Gay Pride Gay Rainbow Pride Parade Flag Pride

LGHEI Lesbian & Gay Hospitality Exchange International


Lesbian & Gay Hospitality Exchange International is a growing network of lesbians and gay men from around the world who offer their hospitality to other members at no charge. These hosts, in turn, are received when they travel. There are currently more than 500 listings in over 30 countries.

It was founded in 1991 and registered as a non-profit organization designed to provide a service to the LGBT community. An online directory is available year-round.

Members who wish to travel use the website to contact the members they would like to be received by. Members are expected to give their prospective hosts some advance notice before making their visit.

Last-minute requests for accommodation are not appreciated and can simply be denied. Members are expected to answer all requests for accommodation, whether in the affirmative or the negative.

Members are expected to limit requests for hospitality to two nights. This protects hosts from being stuck with a guest with whom they are incompatible and protects the traveler from outright refusals of hospitality because of the hosts’ fear of that possibility. However, hosts are free to offer longer stays at their discretion.


Have you tried any of these? Do you know more? Please contribute to this article using the comment section!

Check Also

Home swapping, what it is, and the best websites to do it
Hospitality services requiring a small fee per night (upcoming)
The best Work-Exchange and free volunteering networks


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