Your Couch Can Earn Cash And Support A Band

By David DeFranza on 11 September 2008 7 comments
Photo: granth

By now, anyone interested in budget travel has heard of CouchSurfing, a website that helps connect travelers with benevolent strangers in cities and towns around the world. The concept has hit the mainstream, even approaching trend status, best evidenced by a recent television commercial featuring a couch surfer armed with a particular brand of cell phone.

Of course, CouchSurfing has obvious advantages for travelers looking to meet locals and save money, but it can also be fun for hosts as well. Having a foreign guest, especially one eager to visit your town's tourist attractions with you, can almost be like taking a trip yourself. If you are trying to learn a foreign language, or even an international language, hosting a couch surfer is a great way to get some practice. Simply hearing someone else's stories can make for a memorable evening. Certainly, there are many reasons to participate in home stay programs, even if you don't plan to take a trip in the near future.

If you are considering becoming a host for couch surfers, be sure to check out these two, slightly different, opportunities.

AirBed & Breakfast

The basic premise of AirBed & Breakfast is familiar: travelers search for hosts listed in an on-line database, booking a night or two through the website. The significant difference is that, as a host, you can set a price for your accommodation. This means that, in addition to the less tangible benefits of hosting a guest, AirBed & Breakfast can help you make some extra money as well. The program is open to everyone, whether you have an extra room or simply a couch available, but the amount of money you can make clearly depends on what you have to offer and where it is located.

Better Than the Van

Another interesting alternative to hosting a couch surfer is to host a band on tour. Better Than the Van is a website designed to facilitate just such an arrangement. Though the thought of having a band crash in your place may be a bit frightening, it is a great way to support independent music and up-and-coming artists. If you are a fan of music, this could be a great way to meet some musicians.

What is your experience with couch surfing? Ever hosted a stranger? Let us hear about it in the comments.

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Carrie Kirby's picture

I just don't feel right about inviting in strangers because I have two small children. However, I'd love to hear about others' experiences if they share here. 

I blog at

Guest's picture

Same here; perhaps its the times we live in but I could never just let strangers stay in my house. Maybe if I ran a B&B full time and had locks on every single door but I just don't trust people enough to do this

Guest's picture

I tried couchsurfing for the first time this past August, on a trip to Paris. It was pretty out of character for me -- I'm a fairly reserved person who likes her routines -- but I'm also thrifty, and I realized that even staying at the cheapest hostel was going to set me back more than $300 (Canadian). I was convinced to use couchsurfing when I found a bunch of hosts who had more than 100 recommendations on their profiles from past surfers.

I had an _excellent_ time.

It saved me money, but the real value was getting a free pass into the city's social life. The Parisian couchsurfing community is the second largest in the world (London's is the largest), and is full of enthusiastic people who love to travel, and who meet up a couple times a week. My host was a lovely, lovely man. I did all the normal touristy stuff, but during my week I also went to a trivia night at a favourite local bar; went on a night cruise on a barge (for free!); ate a round-robin dinner of essentially French foods at a wine bar/restaurant with people from Finland and New Zealand (and Paris); and had a midnight picnic on the banks of the Seine.

Paris without couchsurfing would have been beautiful, but expensive and lonely. Paris with the couchsurfing community was divine.

I can't wait for my next trip!

Guest's picture

I'm familiar with, but what a great idea to rent an extra bed to people on tour! It must be much better to have a home cooked meal and someone new to talk with than to spend your time cooped up in the same buss all the time.


Guest's picture

We have had over 20 different people stay with us through CouchSurfing over the past 3 years, from 3 continents. I can honestly say that we have not had a bad experience yet. We have 'clicked' with some more than others, though. Definitely worth-while to give it a try.

Guest's picture

it does the same thing as airbedandbreakfast - i.e. let travelers stay on your couch, charge them a fee - but, there isn't any transaction cost.

Guest's picture
Matt H

I always tend to have uncomfortable encounters with foreigners. It's a little strange having an old German man hit on you and rub your leg in front of your girlfriend. I guess I am lusted by both women and men alike.