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5 Best Couchsurfing Alternatives in 2019

CouchSurfing.com has been around since 2004, and reviews of the popular cheap travel alternative website have been mixed since it’s inception. Perhaps it’s time for a fresh look at some 2019 CouchSurfing alternatives, or sites like CouchSurfing.

Best Couchsurfing Alternatives in 2019

These Are the Best Couchsurfing Alternatives

When I first set off to head overseas as a digital nomad 7+ years ago, I wasn’t so sure I was ready to do it alone. I did what many nomads do –I did a little research and tried to find people to share my journey with, show me around Chiang Mai, and point me in the direction of all the best coworking spaces, night spots, and cultural attractions.

Related: How to Become a Digital Nomad, Step-by-Step

It wasn’t long before I’d decided to give Couchsurfing a try, and it took weeks to get any good dialogue going with Couchsurfing hosts.

I was looking for foreigners to host me in the beginning. I knew I needed to submerse myself into Thai culture, but not until I had gotten the lay of the land from a few expats. In hindsight, this would have been a smart move had any reliable hosts actually accepted me as a guest.

Hosts themselves were often on the move it seemed, and prioritizing female Couchsurfers over males. I had a few very candid discussions about their female preference with my prospective hosts, and the only local (Thai) female hosts who responded with lightning speed were probably hell bent on finding a farang husband. (Edit in 2018: Okok, that was a little harsh, but’s happened since I wrote this, so..).

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Sites like Couchsurfing

International Men Have a Hard Time with Couchsurfing

Like many men just starting out on Couchsurfing, it’s hard to crack that first barrier to build some profile karma –getting ratings so hosts know that one isn’t a creep.

That is, unless you’re willing to give Couchsurfing.com money simply to verify you and make you seem like less of a boogey man to hosts. Female hosts prefer females, and too few male hosts will take in another man. And then when one does, there’s the possibility of male personality conflicts.

That isn’t to say nomad ladies, families, or couples have it any easier; Couchsurfing can be a dangerous (or strange) place for women and children, but that’s not my area of expertise.

When I mentioned this to a group of male nomads I’d gotten to know on Facebook, I discovered it was much harder yet for non-white men to find hosts and build much-needed Couchsurfer ratings than it was for myself. They explained to me that people aren’t racist, they’re just more likely to open their doors to a white guy, if a male at all. Or at least that was their assumption, I can’t personally relate to those challenges either but they don’t seem unrealistic.

Chalk it up to cultural familiarity, media bias, whatever. Non-white male hosts run into the same problems.

So that’s more or less what prompted this blog post. And after hearing a steady stream of negative Couchsurfer experiences, I thought I’d explore some Couchsurfing alternatives that were relevant (and updated in 2018).

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Couchsurfing Alternatives in 2019

The landscape for Couchsurfing alternatives in 2018 seemed pretty bleak initially, with most of them being so old, I wondered if anyone was even using them anymore.

Here’s what I came up with: My top Couchsurfing alternatives in 2019 –being in my 30’s I’m willing to put a little money into the free accommodation these sites can provide, by paying for a membership.

It’s a great way to weed out competition from other users, and generally keeping the community respectful of the privilege (and a whole lot less flakey –you get what you pay for).

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments –would you pay for a more exclusive line-up of couchsurfing alternatives or does that go against the very point of couch surfing?

 


 

5. Airbnb

Wait! We know Airbnb isn’t a straight-up Couchsurfing alternative! It costs money whenever you use it! But hear me out.

Since we’ve been in Asia, all other venues and platforms have had moments where they flaked out. Sometimes it left us in quite the pickle, and we could always turn to Airbnb without fail. We’ve had some good luck with it, and as yet, zero problems.

It’s a great backup to have installed on your phone and you’ve got some free Airbnb credit if you sign up with us using this link today.


4. BeWelcome – Great for backpackers

BeWelcome is a not-for-profit couchsurfing alternative, which is great if you’re bootstrapping, but it’s also just as unpredictable as Couchsurfing.com in that anyone can sign up, and profiles are not matched by an algorithm.

  • Just as “safe” as Couchsurfing.com
  • Most users of all Couchsurfing alternatives
  • Not-for-profit also means little customer service, if any

Reviews I’ve found online state that they remove users for illegitimate reasons, offer little to no customer service, and “promote democracy” among users –meaning it isn’t carefully curated, you’re on your own and left to wonderful surprises like “oh, hey. I’m a 56 year-old male nudist –sorry I didn’t mention that in my profile”.

Other complaints include it not having enough hosts and fewer users in general, unlike Couchsurfing.com. It’s give and take with this 2019 couchsurfing alternative.


3. Trustroots – Great for Hitchhikers

Trustroots started in 2014 and sells itself as a hospitality website for hitchhikers.  This is probably very ideal for digital nomads and expats who are completely willing to go with the flow, and have a nice passive income or some money in the bank.

Because of Trustroots’ focus on hitchhikers and hobos, it’s probably the least useful for digital nomads, however it’s got a very slick website and the maps displaying where all its users are is very helpful, making it a great option as a couchsurfing alternative this year.

  • Dynamic map to see where users and hosts are
  • It’s all open-source, and truly a not-for-profit
  • Not ideal for digital nomads if you rely on reliable working conditions
  • Trust is everything

Trustroots reviews are sparse on the web, which is why I gave it the third rank out of this top Couchsurfing alternatives list. I’d really like to hear from readers in the comments on this one, as it’s the only one I haven’t tried myself (yet).

2. MovingWorlds – Great for Volunteers

Moving Worlds is a platform for professionals to use their skills abroad in exchange for accommodation or other benefits (some projects also offer stipends).

In a nut shell; “MovingWorlds connects professionals wanting to donate their skills to startups and social enterprises around the world that meet their skills & preferences”.

  • Make a social impact with your professional skills, do more than simply volunteer
  • Extensive resources to ensure you have a high impact, safe trip
  • All organizations are verified by MovingWorlds
  • Accommodation included, just ask

The reviews for MovingWorlds are impeccable, which makes it one of the best Couchsurfing.com alternatives in 2019; you can watch video interviews of “experteers” here, or you can visit any one of these third-party websites to get a better idea of what they’re all about.


1. TrustedHousesitters is Our Top Pick as a Couchsurfing Alternative

From their website;

“What is TrustedHousesitters (as a couchsurfing alternative)? By offering your time and care for other’s pets (and/or homes) for free, you can enjoy staying for free in locations world-wide, whether you’re looking for a weekend or a few months. Watch our short video to discover even more about the world of house sitting. Become a member for ฿3990.00 – the rest is free“.

Alright, I’m in Thailand so –not only is there a sign up fee, I gave it to you in the wrong currency. Your best bet is to check their website for details, currently that’s about $119 USD.

Why TrustedHousesitters as a 2019 Couchsurfing Alternative?

Couchsurfing alternatives 2019

In my early days of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand I lucked out and all my neighbours at Baan Thai were travel bloggers. Really successful ones at that.

Nomad is Beautiful, Camille in Wonderlands, Just One Way Ticket, Breathing Travel, Getting Stamped, Travel Dave, Wagoners Abroad, Keep Calm and Travel, and others, all at the same time.

It was pretty nutty –that was 2015, and it was because of these influences that we rebooted Hobo in 2017. Why let them have all the fun? But, back to this couchsurfing alternative.

In particular, Sabrina from Just One-Way Ticket had taken a trip to Hong Kong to look after some kitties in a skyscraper that towered over the city while we were neighbours back in Chiang Mai.

And it didn’t cost her a penny beyond her flight. I can’t imagine what a condo with a view like the one in the video above costs.

TH is a reliable source of getting entire appartments, condos, you name it –for simple pet-sitting gigs, no charge after the signup fee, forever.

TH also makes it easy to plan in advance, so it’s convenient, and all of my peers say that a host flaking it out rarely, if ever, happens.

Visit the TrustedHousesitters website or read How to Get Housesitting Jobs on Trusted Housesitters.

In Summary

IMHO ‘free’ always has a catch –and Courchsurfing is not only showing it’s age, it’s not really working for most and is in dire need of a solid alternative. It’s far easier to have reliable travel organise through a different couchsurfing alternative like TrustedHousesitters.

Even Airbnb is a kickass couchsurfing alternative for those that are willing to pay for some privacy.

No matter what you’re after in a couchsurfing alternative, there’s something on this list for everyone. TrustedHousesitters is great for people who need a little more predictability to their travel, and MovingWorlds is an ideal solution for those wanting to make a difference abroad while getting free accommodation.

What do you think of these 2019 Couchsurfing alternatives? Let everyone know in the comments if you’ve found a better alternative to Couchsurfing that isn’t on this list.

Digital Nomad Blog - Michael Hulleman



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15 comments

  1. Hi,
    There is no alternative. Airbnb is not the same as couchsurfing and you have to pay for it. I actually had a very bad experience with Airbnb during my 2nd booking.
    Just like yourself, I had posted a link on my Facebook and I had referral and credit on my Airbnb account. My Airbnb that I had booked in Cozumel back in January hosted by a lady name “Lady”, had no wifi, no full kitchen and no hot water. I tried to cook on the hot plate and took a long time and I made some calls at night, calling an airline in regards to my flights. The next morning, she came and kicked me out, threatened to beat me up with her husband, called me names such as Faggot in Spanish and bunch of other names. They told me that I was not the same person as my Facebook and I was older and gay and I had told them that I am married, yes, I was married to a man. But they kicked me out because I am gay, not because that I did anything wrong. The Facebook is me, just a few years ago, I have a picture in India and Africa, but my Facebook should be none of their business.
    I lost my $3000 dollar wedding band, my designer t-shirts… and on top of that,
    Well, not that I lost my two referral fees, I had to pay for the first night and they ruined my vacation. The previous day, I had waited 7 hours for them to show up. Now, Airbnb has my account suspended for violation of service.

    I had the same experience with Couch surfing. I signed up, I am a 52 year old gay older Non white male. Well, nobody wants to take me in. The straight guys, want females and the gay guys are all looking for hook-ups with younger guys. I had a Turkish guy who literally told me that I am ugly, fat and old. I wrote him back, saying that his behavior was inappropriate and guess what, Couchsurfing deactivated my account for violation of terms of service.
    It is time, that someone needs to come up with a true Alternative to Couchsurfing and a real alternative to Airbnb where people are accountable. I am tired of talking Airbnb Reps in the Phillippinnes and they have no say so in the matter at all. I have tried to call the corporate office of Airbnb and no luck, you can not get a hold of a human being and the same goes with Couchsurfing. I got two replies back from Couchsurfing, saying because of privacy reasons, they can not even tell me why they have inactivated my account without notice.
    I am the one who was insulted, called Fat, Ugly, Not white, short, Mexican looking, and old but Couchsurfing cancelled my account.
    I have started to blog and I am traveling for 4 months, starting soon and I can use these websites but I am blocked from using them and these companies are not accountable and you can not actually talk to someone. There are not accountable for what they do and Airbnb and Couchsurfing are being discriminatory and they have violated me, my rights as a human on this planet! Not nice people…
    Someone, please come up with an alternative!

    1. All I can say is you get what you pay for! That’s why I pay now (Airbnb is SO CHEAP), and why we give away up to $43 USD free credit on Airbnb with this link.

      Thanks for the story!

  2. Cultree seems to be for sale!
    what about Trusted Housesitters? As i understand, the owners will be NOT at home at this time. What about sign up in Thailand? Is it cheaper?

    1. The irony, their site spurred my interest in couchsurfing alternatives –rewrite coming soon, needs some polish anyway.

      As for TH, as far as I understand they loosely convert currencies and the cost varies per country. Could save a few bucks.

      In either case, Airbnb and TH are still our go-to for cheap/free couchsurfing alternatives. Thanks for letting us know about Cultree, Robert.

      Sincere best,

      Mike

  3. I got treated horribly by a homeowner on Trusted Housesitters. They clearly thought they were getting a servant rather than someone who would would actually like to be able to leave and enjoy the city. THS doesn’t vet the home owners at all and you could be going into a paroled sex offender’s house without knowing so. They make housesitters do a criminal background check but don’t even confirm the identity of the homeowner. It’s not without its flaws too.

    1. That sounds like a terrible experience! Did you have a call before going?

      Putting our positive experiences aside, there’s currently 9,619 reviews on TrustPilot and it’s got an “excellent” 9.6/10 rating.

      I recommend anyone who gives this couchsurfing alternative a try reads our guide first. Thanks for your comment!

  4. There’s no real alternative to Couchsurfing as of now. All those listed are for westerners for whom $100 membership are affordable deal. For most Asians their monthly salaries with regular jobs is less barely $ 200-300.
    Tried housesitting and biggest issue is you don’t get to choose the dates. You respond to the dates hosts have put up. Rather redundant that way.

    1. In principle I disagree with what you said but I respect it.

      Fees are often shortcuts because they can save time, money, and help you avoid unreliable hosts (and travel cancellations) because a human screens everyone to ensure there’s no bad apples.

      Couchsurfing has a paid tier, and it’s better than the free one. TrustedHousesitters (guide) is even better as they have the most housesitting jobs of all the sites we explored –so finding a place to stay on the dates you’re looking to fill is much easier. I assume you didn’t try TrustedHousesitters as a Couchsurfing alternative.

      Now, about that money you spoke about.

      I feel you about the $200 – $300 per month salary in Asia. However, education is all over the place and it’s free; you’re not a “second class citizen” when you’ve got fluent English and an internet connection.

      Spend a year upgrading your skills, and by this time next year you could be applying for your first entry-level remote job.

      This site, iTunesU, and YouTube are a great place to learn new skills and DuoLingo can help you improve your English grammar. You’re already very proficient with the language.

      It’s not about how you make money, it’s where. You can earn more online working for a US company, check out this article.

      It’s rough right now, everywhere. Don’t settle, and don’t put Westerners on a pedestal or assume they’ve got it easier –the internet gives us all the same opportunities, that’s what makes being a digital nomad possible for just about everyone.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. This post struck me. I was on the fence about housesitting in June last year, made the leap with Trusted Housesitters the following December, and my house sitting travel schedule is booked until the end of Feb 2019.

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