Hostels are great places that laid back traveling people can enjoy. They are some of the best places to meet new friends and share your favorite backpacking stories. However, we’ve all met some types of people who just shouldn’t stay in hostels. While there are more, these are our top seven types of terrible hostel guests.
When we started using Couchsurfing in 2010, it was new and exciting and very few people knew about it. We used it all over the world, hosting almost 200 travelers and surfing in more than 10 different countries. We’ve had people take us out on their boat, buy us expensive dinners, show us secret hikes, teach us new games, drive us long distances to explore new areas… the list is never ending. The generosity shown to us through the Couchsurfing community was unbelievable and it restored my hope in humanity at a time when I really needed it. However, recently I’ve noticed the quality of my experiences decreasing, and I’m feeling like the good times are over. Here are my top 5 reasons Couchsurfing has lost it’s magic for me.
1 – People Using Couchsurfing Like Tinder:
Couchsurfing is NOT a way to find people to hook up with. Sure, it happens a lot, but if you come into it with that mindset you are missing the point. I’ve heard too many stories of male hosts that only host girls, or take their surfers out for a night on the town and then try to convince them to get in bed with them at the end of the night. This only makes things awkward and ruins the experience for everyone.
The new “Hangout” feature on the Couchsurfing app perpetuates this problem. Every time Carrie lists herself as “available” to hang out, she almost exclusively gets responses from local men. Coincidence? I think not. I repeat, Couchsurfing is NOT a dating site. People that use Couchsurfing like Tinder are the reason why the majority of Couchsurfers left are men or couples traveling together, and solo female travelers are quickly turned off. We did an experiment where Carrie listed herself as available to have coffee. Within minutes her inbox looked like this:
2 – Too Many Unused Accounts:
Way too many people are signing up for Couchsurfing and then never using their accounts. Now when you look for hosts in a new city, you have to scroll though sometimes hundreds of profiles with 0 references and a 0% response rate before stumbling upon someone who actually hosts people. These are the same people who are messaging every pretty face that pops up in the Hangout section, leeching off the system but never giving back.
3 – People Using It For Just a Free Bed:
I get requests almost every day to stay on my couch that are usually something along the lines of “Hey man, I’m poor – do you have a couch for me?”. Couchsurfing is supposed to be a sharing of cultures, experiences, and a way to make amazing friends in new places. If you don’t want to spend time with your hosts/surfers then just go to a hotel or hostel.
4 – People Labeling Themselves “Couchsurfers” But They Have Never Traveled
I have stopped going to Couchsurfing meetups. They used to be cool groups of local hosts mixed up with different weekly travelers. Now there are so many people who use it just to find drinking buddies or make friends. Many of these people fit into point “2” and don’t do anything for the community except go to meetups. People like this don’t contribute anything to the community, but instead just use it to make friends with the few real traveling surfers who are left. It’s like being in the Hell’s Angels but not owning a motorcycle. Go surf someones couch, or at least host a few, so you qualify for this group before you participate in the perks.
5 – The People In Charge Are Douchebags
The people who run the Couchsurfing organization are way too focused on growth and never think about whether they should grow. It’s become too mainstream, and mainstream people don’t make good Couchsurfers. Get over yourselves, Couchsurfing CEOs, and get back to your roots: free beds and cultural exchange for cool people through word-of-mouth referrals.
Things You Can Do To Be A Better Couchsurfer:
Don’t get me wrong, I still love Couchsurfing. Some of my favorite people I’ve ever met were friendships made through Couchsurfing and the experiences I’ve had were some of the best of my life. I just think that by spreading the word about the problems we can all create a better community that refocuses Couchsurfing on it’s original mission: encouraging travel and bringing people together in cultural exchange. I think we can still fix the community, we just have to be the positive change we want to see in the world.
– Host before you surf: Give back to the community from the start and get yourself some references. Having good references is the best way to ensure you get hosted when you travel.
– Stay active: When people message you, always message them back. Update your profile often and let people know what kind of person you are.
– Stop introducing Couchsurfing to your loser friends: Couchsurfing used to be a place that only the cool people knew about. Some people were not meant to be Couchsurfers and should just stay in hotels.
– Hang out with your surfers/hosts: Get to know the people you are sharing a house with. Go out and have some drinks, play games, tell cool stories of your travels.
– Send proper requests: Don’t just say “Hey I’m poor and need a couch to crash on”. Find similarities and only request people you think you will bond with.
– Read my profile before you message me: Find common interested and understand what you are getting into before you message me. My profile might say “Hey, I’m a nudist and don’t wear clothes in my home”. (This does really happen.). These are things that it’s nice to know before wasting peoples time requesting their couch.
– Say “yes” to new experiences: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. You might learn something about yourself and find something amazing that you’ve been missing out on your whole life.
– Leave good references: When you have a nice time with people, write some nice words about them. This will help them get more hosts in the future. Spread the love!
– Bring beer or cook food for your host: It’s a nice touch to show up with a gift of sorts and it’s a great way to bond with new friends by cooking a meal together.
There have been several Couchsurfing competitors to come along, sites like WarmShowers.org and HospitalityClub.org, but they never gained the following or appeal of the original Couchsurfing. Even Airbnb (which came around after Couchsurfing) monetized the original idea. Maybe the good days are over, or maybe it’s just time for a new site to take the lead. I just can’t wait to find the magic of Couchsurfing again, however we can make that happen.
Have additional thoughts about this article? We’d love to hear your comments. Like this article about Couchsurfing? Check out our archives of travel stories, backpacking advice, and videos of our adventures around the world. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram: @laaventuraproject.
Backpacking Malaysia is great for easy Asia travel. Easier than South America, easier than Thailand. We traveled the length of the Malaysian peninsula from Malacca to Penang, Kuala Lumpur (KL) to the Perhentian Islands through the Cameron Highlands. The people are friendly, welcoming, and excited to have you in their country. The buses are clean with organized stations and the roads are smooth with minimal traffic, especially in the countryside. The highlight of backpacking Malaysia was the food. From Malay to Chinese to Indian, the cuisine is an amazing fusion of different cultures, living together in relative harmony. Low food costs are easy for every budget traveler and in Malaysia you can get a full meal starting at $1.50 for a vegetarian banana leaf lunch. Even though the government just added a tourist tax to all hotel rooms, Malaysia still has good deals for travelers on a budget. We stayed in some of the nicest and most fun hostels of our lives, and our 15 days in the peninsula didn’t scratch the surface of what the country has to offer.
Pick a Route:
Picking a backpacking route though Malaysia is easy. For a two week trip we would recommend starting in Singapore and working your way north from Malacca to KL, Cameron Highlands, Perhentian Islands, then back across to Georgetown, Penang. If you have three weeks we would suggest adding Taman Negara National Park and Langkawi Island. These are both trips along the standard backpacker trail, great for your first time in Malaysia. Since Malaysia has much fewer tourists than Thailand, you will run into the same friendly faces as you go. There was one lady on our trip that we ran into in at three different places on our adventure. Of course there are many other parts of Malaysia worth exploring, mainly the jungles of Borneo where things are more wild. On a four week trip we would suggest spending a week there getting off the tourist path.
Enjoy the Food:
The food in Malaysia is easy and good for any backpacker’s budget. The most we “cooked” for ourselves in Malaysia was to peel a banana, maybe once. The local markets are great places to pig out economically. Check out the laksa, poh piah, mee koring, and nasi kandar. Western style restaurants are there, but they are the most expensive and generally not as exciting as the local flavors. Every city has a Chinese neighborhood and an Indian neighborhood. Little India was always our favorite spot to eat, great for vegetarians and meat eaters alike! For one meal I had seven different curries and spent a total of less than $3. For these reasons, Malaysia was my all time favorite country to eat in!
Stay in a Hostel:
Backpackers will love Malaysia for the hostels which are cheap and easy to book online. Sometimes they do fill up, especially in the busy season, so we suggest booking in advance. They range in price and quality and there is a new 10 Ringgit tourist tax for every room. Our favorites were the Lemongrass on Long Beach in the Perhentians, and Frame Guesthouse in Georgetown, Penang. Prices range from $10 per night for a dorm bed, $15 for a beach bungalow, or $18 for private room with A/C.
Speak With the Locals:
Backpacking Malaysia is easier than other parts of Asia because most people can speak or at least understand English. A majority of the signs are also in English and Malay, so you will never have a hard time finding your way around. Malay also using the English characters so it’s easy to pick up a little bit along the way which always makes the locals appreciate you more. Knowing few words like terima kasih (thank you) can get you a lot of respect points and make you look a little better than the average traveler.
When looking for easier Asia travel, backpacking Malaysia should be at the top of your list. With top notch people, food, nature and adventure, and hostels, never ending aventuras await you in this tropical paradise!
Like this post about backpacking Malaysia for easy Asia travel? Check out our archives for never ending travel advice, reviews, and many stories of adventure in Malaysia!
Hostel Holidays are the best holidays. You meet friends from all over the world and share a special time together. It’s an incredible opportunity for travelers to learn about new holidays they don’t celebrate at home. Sharing holidays is an important part of cultural exchange. It creates a bond between the traveler and the local that becomes the base of friendship. Having activities like these are what makes great hostels great.
Take Thanksgiving for instance– it’s a great hostel holiday. It’s so much fun to cook a huge feast of all your childhood favorites and show the other backpackers what they’ve been missing out on their whole lives. This year we are planning a food and wine buffet at Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok. Mashed potatoes are of course the most important part, with lots of butter and salt.
While Carrie was working at a hostel on Christmas in San Diego they would have a special free breakfast buffet with champagne mimosas, then do the “present ball” game with dollar store gifts! You could also do a white elephant gift exchange, creating mayhem by swapping and stealing each others presents. It always turns into a bunch of laughing and merry hooting and hollering. Getting some free drinks into your customers is a good way to start the holiday off right! This is why hostel holidays are the best!
As a local, it’s nice to keep travelers up to date on the upcoming holidays – especially if it involves stores closing or transportation headaches. One of our craziest holiday experiences while traveling was when we were in Morocco for Eid al Fitr. Eid is the biggest holiday of the year for Muslim families. Signifying the end of the Ramadan fasting period, Eid is the yearly giant feast. Most families will purchase a sheep which is slaughtered on the morning of the feast. The week before the feast it’s a sight to behold with sheep being shuffled around all over the city. There were sheep on the backs of motorbikes, parking lots turned into temporary “sheep parking”, and sheep just about everywhere. We walked into the apartment complex where we were CouchSurfing. Our host sniffed the air like “What’s that smell?” and tried to open the basement door. “Sheep parking in the basement!“, he realized. We called it the sheep genocide. The festival impacted where in Morocco we could travel as the bus tickets were almost all purchased by locals in advance. We ended up having to change most of our trip but since we’re flexible we still had fun.
You should also create events for your guests around the holidays. If there is a Christmas parade in town, take them to go see it! Free food for a Buddhist vegetarian festival? Make signs and organize a tour there! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips on hostel activities and how you can make your hostel holidays great!
This is the first in a series of posts we’re starting that will feature the businesses of our traveling friends and clients of Global Traveler Networks! We’re featuring amazing people who we 100% support and helping them spread the word about the good they are offering the world!
Iosif and Natalia of Mattera Life Designing & Psychotherapy are quite inspirational. We met them randomly over the internet and they kindly offered us a free first psychotherapy session of “couples therapy from a couple” as they call it. Their focus is in combining psychotherapy, metaphysics and spirituality to create a holistic approach to bettering your life. Originating from Romania but currently based in Bali , they conduct their sessions in person or via Skype. Most of their clients are people who have already broken out of the so-called “normal realm” of thinking and are looking for the next level of consciousness. Long term travelers and digital nomads could find them the most beneficial, since when living overseas its hard to know where to go or who to turn to if you would like to talk to a therapist. Also, local therapists from the country you are in might not understand your background and your nomadic lifestyle!
One of the most interesting things that we talked about in our session was our fears around money. Natalia and Iosif really opened our eyes to the difference between the “spending mindset” vs the “investing mindset. ” Whenever you are using money for any reason, do you think of it as “spending” i.e. the scary loss of money, or as “investing” into yourself. “God is in you, and you can trust god” said Natalia, “You must know that you will be given all that you need, when you need it”.
Mattera is picky about the people they take on for sessions as they are better suited to those who have already started along the path of expanding their conscious awareness. The best way to describe their target market might be “hippie traveler digital nomads”.
If you go to their website, mattera.life, you can sign up for a free first session so Iosif and Natalia can get to know you a little bit. They want to open doors for you inside of yourself, so you can search around for your own happiness. Some of their areas of expertise are helping people with limiting beliefs, emotional blockages and traumas, and accessing higher states of consciousness. Their theory is that by building your life in the right way, the universe will conspire to give you everything that you need.
While spending years traveling the world, we’ve stayed in a LOT of great hostels. Sometimes we check out the trendy new ones, sometimes we try to save money and go bottom budget. Besides the obvious necessities like cleanliness and safety, here are some things that make for great hostels:
Hostel activities are the best way to make friends while traveling. It is also usually the cheapest way to do the things that you want to do anyways. These actives could be free yoga, beach bonfires, beer pong tournaments, surf lessons, language exchanges, exploring the market, or hiking adventures. Some hostels go as far as to focus their whole marketing strategy around their actives, like Volcano Boarding at Bigfoot Hostel in Leon, Nicaragua
2) Free Breakfast
Not paying for that first meal is important to long term travel. Some breakfasts are better than others but it’s nice to at least get some coffee, bread, and fruit. The best breakfasts ever were at the Casas Particulares in Cuba where we one time were served 8 different types of fruit, in addition to bread, eggs, and cheese.
3) A Bar and Restaurant
Sometimes you just want to stay in and hang out with travelers. Hostel bars are the best place to do that. They provide an international vibe that some towns lack. Sometimes the bar is the attraction itself, like Loki Hostels in South America or the Tipsy Tiger in Penang, Malaysia.
4) Chilling Areas
Comfortable places to meet new friends, use your laptop to advance your digital nomad dreams, and share stories of your adventures are a must. These areas range from bean bag chairs, to hammocks, to comfy couches or soft green grass. For places with dorms this is the area that most people will spend their time. The swimming pool at Equity Point in Marrakech wins our vote for best chillin’ area.
5) Fast WiFi
Some countries just have terrible internet all over. But sometimes the hostel gets cheap and goes for the internet package that wouldn’t load AIM in the 90’s. You. must. have. fast. Wifi. It’s so nice to be able to upload photos to Facebook or Skype your family back home in Ulakalakalakastan or wherever you’re from. Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok wins for fastest hostel WiFi ever.
6) Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff
You want tours, you want advice, you want someone who will laugh with you at your stupid mistake of waking up early to spend all of your money on taxis to the airport one day too early (oops). The staff should make you feel at home and help you have the best time possible. By far the best staff we’ve met were at USA Hostels Ocean Beach, San Diego, California.
We know we said 5, but wasn’t 6 better?
Other things that make your stay better:
– Privacy curtains on dorm beds.
– Water refill station.
– No bed bugs. Sometimes if places look grimy it’s better to just pay the extra $1 for no bed bugs. Check out our post on how to remove bed bugs from your stuff.
– Free maps.
– Free earplugs (for the party hostels).
– Instagramable decor – you know you want to brag to your friends back home.
Sometimes in the end everything is not perfect, but sometimes those imperfections are what makes great hostels an experience. I mean, you could have stayed in a hotel and gotten a good nights sleep. But after you go out with your new hostel best friends and dance on the bar until 6am, you never think “man, I wish I would have gotten a hotel and some sleep!” Well sometimes you do, but that doesn’t make a very good story now, does it?
If you’re interested in finding some good places to stay, check out our HOSTEL REVIEWS page and get out there on your own aventura! What important in great hostels to you? We’d love your feedback!
We are hostel marketing consultants and in our years of traveling we have stayed at a LOT of hostels. The difference between a good hostel and a GREAT hostel is often so small that it’s hard to notice from an inside perspective. We have worked with almost 50 different hostels and hotels on five different continents. Our hostel marketing, consulting, writing, photos, and videos have helped many places jump the gap from failure to success.
Here are the 5 biggest reasons why you should hire a hostel marketing consultant:
1) A Different Perspective:
When you are at your hostel day after day, you become blind to the real problems. You also get attached to things that are maybe not the best ideas. A hostel consultant can help you fix problems and think outside the box.
2) Knowing What Foreigners Want:
You know what the locals want; we know what the tourists want. Travelers want clean, easy, safe, and fun! Places and activities that might seem unexciting to locals might be exactly what travelers want!
3) English Promotions On Different Media Types:
Eye-catching social media posts are crucial to your success. Nowadays, many travelers only use Instagram and Facebook to plan their trips. Having a follower base and daily exciting posts are crucial to building your business.
Here are some examples of Instagram accounts from hostels we have worked with:
4) Keeping Up With The Times:
The hostel world is always changing. When you are managing a hostel there is little time for exploring other countries, scoping out your competition, or keeping up with events and attractions around your area. We love travel and the first thing we do when consulting with hostels is to get to know their area like a local, but seeing it though the eyes of a tourist.
5) Professional Photos, Highlights Videos, and Blogging
We specialize in making your hostel shine! iPhones can take pictures, but having professionally edited photos from real cameras sets you above the competition. Highlight videos let people feel like they are actually there from the comfort of their own home. They show how fun, clean, and comfortable your hostel really is. We want your hostel to be a tourist attraction in itself. A website blog highlights attractions in your area which increases the traffic to your website and your hostel!
How we can help:
Contact us at email@example.com to discuss hostel marketing and consulting help for your business!