As we at The Active Times can vouch, using the popular website Couchsurfing.org can be a cheap and rewarding way to travel—but only when respect between host and guest is mutual.
In a colorful screed on his blog, Potts calls attention to some couchsurfers’ inverted idea of etiquette, in which emphasis is placed on the responsibilities of the host over those of the guest.
“I had compiled a neat series of contact and hosting rules on my [Couchsurfing.org] profile,” writes Potts. “When I realized nobody was reading those rules,” he continues, “I just deleted the rules and got myself out of the hosting chore.”
Thanks to the growing, smartphone-enabled popularity of Couchsurfing.org, which has 5 million users, Potts has encountered his fair share of backpackers whose interest in saving a buck outweighs courtesy to the hosts who offer their time and space:
“[One guest] was welcomed, sheltered, offered a home cooked dinner, a warm shower, movie time, a clean bed and a lift the next day,” only to greet Potts the next morning with a rude request: “He asked, quite scornfully, where was his damn breakfast.”
So much for the Couchsurfing spirit.