Couchsurfers Share Their Wildest Experiences
Traveling is one of the best things you can do. Whether it's for a weekend or a few months, taking advantage of the freedom to explore different cities or even countries and embark on brand new adventures is exciting. However, it does require a bit of planning and money to afford it — or a global pandemic could put your plans on indefinite hold.
One of the most affordable ways to "travel" the world is to do a little couchsurfing. This form of travel housing allows you to crash on someone else's couch for a short period. Although it makes sense economically, it can understandably come with some downsides. Just take it from the following travelers who recently shared some of the wildest couchsurfing experiences they’ve ever had.
I woke up to find the guy watching me sleep while he was eating a sandwich and drinking. Obviously, I kind of freaked out. I mean, who watches someone sleep while eating a sandwich and having a drink in the middle of the night?
Introduction to Garlic
I used to live in a house in Berlin where we had people couchsurfing nearly every weekend and on plenty of weekdays. It was great, and we met absolutely loads of interesting people (and a few weirdos).
I also had one of the worst meals ever cooked for me by a Spanish guy. He insisted on cooking and said what a great cook he was and how amazing his food was going to be. As he was making it, he acted like he was on a cooking program, talking us through each step and explaining everything as if we had no idea what things were. He even "introduced us" to garlic…as if we didn’t know what garlic was!
The meal was purely disgusting. Basically, he made some pasta that was so overcooked, it was just mushy, but in the water that he was cooking the pasta in, he also put a load of ham and slices of garlic. Then in a separate pan, he poured a load of (cheap) white wine and used it to boil some whole mushrooms.
And that’s what he served — mushrooms boiled in white wine on top of mushy pasta with bits of soggy ham thrown in.
Strict About Shampoo
It's not really creepy, but it was kind of weird. I was hosted by this Japanese guy who forbid guests to use any other shampoos, shower gels, soaps, etc., other than his own, because he didn’t “like the smell of other products in his linen.”
My worst was when I stayed at a man’s house. He tried to keep me there as long as he could. I bought in because he was lonely and wanted someone to talk to, so I stayed an extra day. After that, I was packing up when he pulled a weapon and told me to unpack. Then, he said I was never leaving. I calmed him down, got the weapon away from him, hid it from him, got in my car and left. I went to the police station and told them he was unstable. I felt bad about it, as he was lonely and sad, but it needed to be done.
It's not too creepy, but it's an interesting story nonetheless. Once I couchsurfed with a girl who offered me a home-cooked meal. Of course, I couldn't refuse, as it would have been impolite. She warned me right before I dug in that the ingredients were fished out of a supermarket dumpster. She vehemently swore that the food was all checked and cleared for mold, still in its packaging and unspoiled. I ate it, and it wasn’t bad. I could imagine that being very uncomfortable for someone else, though.
I’ve hosted, and the worst experience was a girl who asked if her dog could stay too. My ad was clear that I love animals, but my landlord did not, thus no animals. She couldn’t line anything else up, so she asked if she could crash and leave her dog in her car during the night. Well, after I went to bed, she snuck her dog inside. He hadn’t been washed in a long time — come to think of it, neither had she — and he left weird greasy stains on my couch.
Nudist in Paris
One of my friends in college spent a semester couchsurfing across Europe and stayed with a nudist in Paris. Apparently, on the listing, the guy didn’t give any warning that he was a nudist, and my friend was obviously surprised upon arrival. He said the guy was super nice, but the whole nudity thing was a little weird.
I had a French girl over, and we agreed that as a “payment” she’d make coffee each morning. I have a regular coffeemaker, where you put coffee in the filter and water in the water reservoir. When it gets heated, it will go up into the filter and drip down through the coffee grounds to make the coffee.
I think she had never seen one of these, although they are (to me) the most basic coffeemakers ever. She just put the water in the coffeepot, some coffee in the filter and turned it on. After 10 minutes, she was annoyed there wasn’t any coffee yet… I still laugh about it every time I make coffee.
This happened five years ago on a solo bike trip. I found a place to stay in a college town, a bit out of the way, but the host seemed cool and was eager to have me over. When I got there, the girl said, “Don’t go into my room.” Then she left for grocery shopping. It was weird, but I was pretty bagged from a long day of biking, so I showered and passed out on the couch.
I woke up around 10 p.m. when she and her boyfriend showed up with groceries, both looking pretty glazed. We chatted, had some spaghetti and drinks, and then all went to bed. I woke up around 5 a.m. as the sun was starting to rise. I looked around the room, and there was an 8-foot snake in my room. I screamed, grabbed my stuff and left. I got a text from her around 9 a.m. to come back and have breakfast with the three of them.
In Hanoi, Vietnam, the host picked me up and took me back to his place on the outskirts of town. When it came time to sleep, the only arrangement he had for me was half of his twin bed, and we shared the same blanket. I was super uncomfortable, but there was no public transport back to the city.
I have a friend who once let a woman surf on his couch. When he woke up in the morning, she had made the couch into a fort.
We stayed with this American guy who lived in England. He was super fat and had this huge computer set up in his living room. When we got there, he told us he usually only takes girls, but he made an exception for me and my (male) friend, because I was so pretty, and he was willing to experiment. He spent the whole night shoving his face with chips, coming on to me and swearing at 12-year-olds on Counterstrike. He then tried to slip into my bed. The bed that was in the same room and 2 meters away from the bed with my friend in it. It was a single bed, and he fell out. We were supposed to stay two nights. We did not.
Although the host was amazing and really cool, his apartment was pretty dirty. The sheets on my bed were gross the first night, and they were crumpled in the corner of the bed when I walked into the room. It was mostly a weird miscommunication though. He just didn’t notice that the bed only had that one sheet the first night, so he gave me better ones the next night. I was just too timid on the first night to ask for clean sheets.
I’ve hosted, but my craziest story ever was from a couchsurfing meet-up at a bar on a Saturday three years back. I’d moved to Amsterdam a few months prior from the U.S. to study astronomy, and it just so happened that the German guy I chose to sit down next to was also a physicist who was in town for the weekend for the first time to help a friend move. We spent 10 minutes discussing research interests and the like, and then he mentioned something offhand about how he lived in New Zealand previously.
I proceeded to freak out. “Johannes!!! Professor W’s E&M class, Auckland, the first half of 2007!!!!” Because, you see, I studied abroad there that semester, and this guy was in my CLASS. We did homework together even, but we lost touch after I left, and neither of us had any idea what the other one had done in the five years since. Thanks to that meet-up, we had run into each other.
A lot of squealing ensued when we recognized each other, not all of it from me, and we chatted until the wee hours. It was incredible — all thanks to the couchsurfing meet-up!
I was hosted in Amsterdam by the only individual who was willing to offer their couch to someone in their older 30s — literally, the ONLY individual. I was either ignored or politely turned down everywhere else.
The first time I ever couchsurfed, I walked in, and my host was sharpening a HUGE knife. It turned out he just liked to cut up his own tobacco for cigarettes. He was very nice.
I’ve had a couchsurfer who simply wouldn’t leave my apartment. I guess she was planning on living with me until she found a job and apartment herself. She was a woman from China who was actually extremely cool, intelligent and talented. It wasn’t until the fifth day that she admitted she had dropped out of college to use the money to travel and party, so she was probably in the country illegally. She seemed oblivious to my obvious hints and was resistant to my polite requests to leave. On the eighth day, I had to tell her to go very firmly, and she became angry and upset.
My (ex) girlfriend used couchsurfing to find someone to cheat on me with, so that was rough. Also, I housed a person who turned out to be some kind of elaborate conman who was trying to set up a “charity” that badmouthed the EU, so he could get paid to take it down.
Third Time’s a Charm
On the first of three nights, we were picked up by a guy in a Mercedes listening to reggaeton. When we got to his house, we noticed that he had a cat and the house smelled like cat pee. The second night, we couchsurfed at a guy’s place that was really nice, and he walked with us around the city. That night, he went to buy some substances and got back one hour later crying and saying that he had been arrested. We had no idea what to do. The third night, we couchsurfed on a boat — a $4 million boat! It was really strange but really amazing. I never thought I’d be sipping from crystal cups on a boat.
Not me, thank (whatever deity you prefer). My wife’s uncle hosted quite a few people over the past year. One woman in particular from France ended up pregnant. So, yeah, he’s going there to visit and probably pay child support.
The most uncomfortable experience I had while couchsurfing was in Ghent, Belgium. It was uncomfortable, because my host would constantly be speaking in Dutch to her friends around me, and I could tell I was the topic of discussion the entire time.
A girl with no reviews sent me a message saying that she’s stranded, and her host canceled. I went across town at 11 p.m. to meet her, and, well, she was silent the whole night and smelled horrid. It took her three hours to start talking, at which point she explained that she was running away from her boyfriend and snuck out in the night, taking a last minute Megabus from Detroit to anywhere (no, just Wisconsin), to meet the family.
I was happy for her, but she then said no more words and didn’t sleep. She just stared at my wall and refused to eat food. I know how it goes, and I hope that she has begun her journey toward brighter days. It was just the most awkward guest ever with a rather heavy “surprise.”
In or Out
I am one of those terrible people that has surfed a few times but never hosted, simply because I haven't had a place in the last five years. The worst are the people who probably never should have accepted you. There was one that left early for work and wouldn't give us a key, so we could either stay in all day or out all day.
An Intriguing Invite
I was supposed to stay with someone in Switzerland. The day before I’m leaving to fly from Zurich to Geneva, he adds me on Facebook and sends me this:
Hi, I’m (Name Redacted) from Geneva, and I like to try new things .-) I’ll give you an example. I’ve shared my home with people I met. I drink naked in the kitchen and have put my finger in other noses to feel the difference. I give free hugs. .-)))) Funny, no? I'm talking about circumcision, because I’m circumcised and curious about non-circumcised people. In America, many are — that’s what I call open-minded. Some say it’s too much, but I’m honest. I don’t host when I work the next day, so more weekend. See you!
Needless to say, I wasn’t game for “Naked Tea Time,” and I ended up just going to Nice, France, instead of going to Geneva. But he had really good reviews, so perhaps I’m missing something…
I had many great experiences and just one bad one. We surfed a couch in Ottawa in January and stayed with an older Australian couple. They took us to their favorite (translation: most expensive) restaurant, where we watched them drink and talk bad about each other. The bill came, and they just looked at us expectantly. Um, okay, we’ll grab the $250 tab. Sure, don’t worry, it’s on us.
My wife and I hosted when we lived in Samoa. I got the date mixed up with the couple we were going to host. I thought it was the next night (international date line and all that).
So, they flew in and got a cab to our house out in the middle of nowhere. They arrived at our house at 2 a.m., and we were asleep and didn’t hear them knocking. They then had to get a cab into town and find a hotel (not easy at that time of night in Apia).
I caught up with them the next day and bought them a drink, and we hosted them at the end of their holiday.
I’ve hosted more than 150 people, some staying as long as 30+ days. I only had one problem with an American drifter who got too cozy and just decided to move in. Everyone else was good fun, and nothing was ever stolen. I even gave everyone keys.
One Too Many
My one and only time hosting people, I had two couples – an Indian/Irish couple and two Russians, which turned out later to be an ex-couple. The first couple was having a cigarette on the balcony, and the Russians were in bed. The Russian guy was trying to get cozy with the girl, and I could clearly hear “Remove your hands; I am going to scream. Remove your hands; I am going to scream.” They didn’t know I understood Russian. The girl slapped the guy, he stopped, and we all went to sleep. So, five people in one room — never again.
Both of the two I’ve hosted were great people, one a Canadian school teacher traveling and the other a dude biking across the U.S. The only negative experience I had was when I went to a local couchsurfers meet-up. The other hosts were some of the most pretentious wannabe hipsters and intellectuals I’ve ever met. I think it had something to do with the smallish nature of the town I was in at the time. I haven’t actually couchsurfed but I’ve done hostels, and I’ve never seen a group quite this idiotic before.
My roommate from Ireland is super into couchsurfing, because he got around in America for about a month by using a couchsurfing website. We had a girl come over who ate all his Pop-Tarts. Like who does that? He offered her one, and she just ate the whole box.