This post was updated on February 2nd, 2020.
Couchsurfing is a global platform that allows you to stay in people's homes for free, while offering a social experience with your host. Likewise, you can sign up as a host in your own home city and host travelers from around the world. You can even use the platform to find LGBT hosts in most cities around the world. During our round-the-world trip we stayed with at least 10 different Couchsurfing hosts in countries like Germany, Chile and Japan. It was one of the most memorable travel experiences we had and we still keep in touch with many of our past hosts. It's free to use but for a small one-time fee, you can pay to get your profile verified which will greatly improve your chances of hosts accepting your stay requests. We recommend verifying your profile as it helps to maintain safety and trustworthiness within the platform.
Back in 2012 we published an article on Robert’s Leave Your Daily Hell blog where we shared our take on Gay CouchSurfing in Europe with tips on how to couchsurf and find hosts that are a good fit. We shared our experiences about how we stayed with gay friendly hosts during our 1-year round the world trip. Since then Couchsurfing has upgraded its platform and it’s not as straight forward to find LGBT hosts on the website. A recent follower and fellow traveler pointed this out to us but we hadn’t noticed because we don’t Couchsurf as much now after finishing our round-the-world trip. Though when we’re not whoring our guestroom out on AirBnB, we do still occasionally host travelers (mostly LGBT) in our apartment in Madrid.
Here are a few reasons to consider staying with an LGBT host:
- You’re on the same page and already understand each other
- Less worries about your orientation
- Helpful if you’re a couple and it’s super obviously you’re gay (you know who you are…)
- Your hosts can show you the best nightlife options around the city
- Personal safety not a concern
- You might get laid (wait…what?! – did I just say that? No, this should never be a primary reason – but secondary, perhaps?)
How to find gay Couchsurfing hosts on the new website:
Since listing your orientation in your Couchsurfing profile isn't one of the standard stats like gender, age, occupation, etc, it can be a bit difficult to know if a host is gay or gay-friendly if they don't specifically mention it somewhere on their profile. So I sat down and spent some time navigating the new site. Your best bet is still to use LGBT oriented groups to find local hosts. Chances are, if they’re in a gay group – they are gay themselves, or equally as supportive, which is almost the same – at least from a comfort and safety perspective.
In our original article we explained how you can search your city of interest and then filter the results based on the groups hosts are a part of. For example, if you’re looking for a host in Madrid, you might find a host that is part of the group “Gay Madrid.” The only way you can filter the results now is to type a search term into the box on the right toolbar. Popular LGBT couchsurfing groups include “Queer CouchSurfers” and “Backpackers (for gay and gay friendly).” Also, most big cities have their own group geared toward the LGBT community so search those group names in advance before searching for hosts, so you know what to type into the filter box.
Couchsurfing’s Response to the Change:
On the couchsurfing site, they’ve officially acknowledged that the new website is more limited here and they’ve responded with the following answer:
“‘Groups I belong to' and ‘My group posts' – We've heard requests to bring these back to profiles and totally agree that these are useful tools. We'll be bringing them back as soon as possible.”
We hope this is true!
Still not sure?
Maybe you still don’t like the idea of Couchsurfing? Or if you still can’t find a suitable gay or gay-friendly host using the site but you don’t want to pay for an expensive hotel, you might consider renting a room in an apartment from a site like MisterBnB. This gives you an opportunity to have a private room (or entire apartment if you have the budget) while ensuring your host is gay themselves, or at a minimum gay-friendly.
Special offer: New to misterbnb? You can save 20€ on your first booking by signing up with this link.
Have you ever Couchsurfed with someone before? If so, what was your experience like? If not, would you try it? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image credit. Photo by Torsten Seiler via Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Hi Joby I totally agree. I have a large home and enjoy having couchsurfers, but I hate being taken advantage of. A lot of younger CS look at it being a FREE alternative to hostels, But I expect a contribution of sorts…. NOT free dinner bed and breakfast. I cannot continue to have people who arrive, stay for days and leave with just a thank you, after eating me out of house and home. Not on !!
Couchsurfing should not be advertising staying with hosts as being totally free. Some tourists want long stay more than a week for instance. That’s very expensive to feed them and for them to use your facilities at home. Pretty soon you’re left with a big debit out of your bank account if you host several such tourists each year.
Long stay tourists tell me Couchsurfing is totally free translating as go ahead and take advantage of hosts with a good, friendly nature. This is not fair at all and Couchsurfing is responsible for creating this impression on their website. Instead, they should set some boundaries that are reasonable to both guests and hosts such as setting a limit to free board and lodging. After all, not all hosts can afford to be out of pocket while their guests have a big advantage. l hope l see Couchsurfing management take action and add a criteria in this respect on their webpage to avoid awkward communications between guests and their hosts as I’ve experienced now a few times.
Are you guys still in Madrid and do you still host travelers? Will be visiting soon and looking for a place to stay! =D
I’ve had great experiences Couchsurfing – with both straight and gay hosts. I’ve never felt unsafe at all.
Although I admit that a couple of times it’s lead to getting laid, I definitely didn’t feel like it was an expectation or anything :)
Awesome. Well ya…getting laid isn’t the point but good for you ;-)
Hi there is another gay hospitality group called LGHEI (www.lghei.org) but limited numbers
We are big advocates of CS and have hosted many travellers back in our London days and used it a bit on our travels in larger cities like Shanghai and Bangkok.
But, in Asian countries where they are struggling with the LGBT laws a bit we have struggled to find any gay hosts so have just given up on the idea annoying.
Did you do much CSing in your Asia leg boys? (ie outside of the gay friendly cities like BKK etc)?
When are you coming to New Zealand? Can host.
No definite plans just yet. Maybe next year.
@auston: i didn´t have the impression it is too sex focused. i joined cocksurfing.com a few weeks ago. i got some well good travel information through some of my contacts
Well that’s good to know. Though I checked the site after the recommendation and searched users within Spain. One of the profile pictures was a penis…
This made me BURST out laughing.
Is really sex focused!! But I don´t think that´s really a bad thing. I join cocksurfing yesterday and I was amazed to find some Travel Community atmosphere. Seems really friendly… so far
Have you seen http://www.cocksurfing.com
Is an interesting concept and funny name. I think is a nice idea. Couchsurfing for gays just clever as hell.
Hey yeah haha..I am a member now at cocksurfing! I like!
Haha, no we have never seen this site! Interesting. Do you think it’s too sex focused?
You come to turin ? I can FREE host you
No plan to come to Turin anytime soon. Actually, I didn’t even know where it was until I looked on the map :-) We definitely want to see more of Italy now that we live in Europe.