Texas Couchsurfer Insider’s Guide to Touring Any City, Anywhere
Two weeks ago, I had an brilliant idea. I decided I wanted to start exploring some of the smaller cities around the Metroplex each weekend, find their points of interest, and blog about them. The only catch — I have to meet someone from each city before and sleep on his or her couch in order to get the insider’s tour. Sound crazy? It is a little bit. Over the last few weeks I’ve been to: Comanche, Denton, Glen Rose, Keller, Las Colinas and Roanoke. I want to visit Ennis this weekend (*update: didn’t make it).
Last Friday night, I couchsurfed in Las Colinas. Last Saturday, a family in Keller, Texas. I won’t mention their names for the sake of anonymity.
How did I do it?
I started by putting an ad out on CouchSurfing.com offering up some services in exchange for one night on someone’s couch. While some people may offer house cleaning or cooking, I got a little creative and offered a little more unconventional labor. Plus, I’m not really good at cooking or cleaning anyway.
Couchsurfing Tip #1 : Offer something of value in exchange for your stay. This is something of value to your host, not you. It does not have to cost money. Think of everything you are good at and enjoy doing for others and make a list of services, which most would consider valuable. This may sound obvious, but don’t offer anything you are not really willing to do, because he/she may take you up on your offer. This means, if you hate washing dishes, do not put it on your list! Put a dollar value on your time. Most all of these services I could do in one hour and I put a $50 value per hour on my time.
See the slightly HILARIOUS list of services I offered inside:
One service = One night on your couch
Here is a abbreviated version of what I offered:
1. Individual Domain/URL setup - A blog and/or simple website with a few pages. This is for info only, not products, music or ecommerce.
2. Online Business promotion – If you have a business or just want a little fame, I will video interview anyone I’m staying with who wants to be interviewed and put you on my own website and promote the video to my profiles on Social Media sites (500+ friends on most of them, and they pay attention).
3. One or two guitar lessons – Or we can have a jam session and I’ll teach you some songs if you already know guitar. $15 – $30 value.
4. Amateur Date Coaching/Wing Manning – I’ll do this for women or men. : )
5. Fifty percent off food (even filet mignon) at Black Finn in Addison – I’m a card-carrying member of the Board of Directors. I have to be with you. Could save you up to $30 (or more if you like a huge variety of food).
6. Archery Lesson in Your Own Backyard – That is, only if you have a solid fence. I’ll bring the bow, arrows, target, and show you the ropes. $20 – $40 value.
7. Once Over Resume Revamp – I’ll give your resume a looksie and help you revamp it step-by-step so you get call-backs. I used to recruit and look at A LOT of resumes. $50 – $100 value.
8. Custom Cover Letter Writing – Want that awesome job, but you’re procrastinating because you know they need a little something more than a resume? I’ll write one 500 word cover letter tailored to you. This will help me get to know you pretty fast too. $75 – $150 value.
9. Get a new look – I’m a pretty fashionable Dude and I’m straight. If you’re a guy looking to change your image, I can take you to one of my favorite stores in town and help you find some cool attire. I know you wouldn’t want to ask that of one of your close buddies. Ladies, I probably can’t help you on this one.
I got 3 or 4 bites. I chose to stay with two of those people, one in Keller, and the other in Las Colinas as I mentioned. I may still take the another up on his offer as well. He lives in Dallas. Both told me no services were required. Both offered to let me stay for more than one night, but I only stayed one night at both places. I think next time I will stop and smell the roses and spend two days. I felt kind of weird after leaving early the next day on both accounts after I had gotten to know the host.
I am trying to help one of the girls get her travel blog launched since she indicated she wanted to get one started (she already had the domain). I gave her some tips on what content management system (CMS) I thought she should use and offered to install it for her, but all she wanted is to learn some ways to get traffic to the blog once it’s built.
Couchsurfing Tip #2 : Always leave references on your host’s profile on couchsurfing.com. Couchsurfing is a give and take relationship. A couchsurfer always leaves a reference for the host after surfing. This gives more credibility and trust to that individual so he or she has a better chance at couchsurfing in other countries and stateside in the future.
The references I left pretty much explain what we did while on each stay.
“XXXXX is, without a doubt, one of the coolest girls I’ve ever met. She’s smart and fun. Her family was super nice and offered me dinner. She showed me her horses and we hung out in South Lake and Downtown Fort Worth. On top of it all I got my own room and bed. If you have transportation, it’s worth it to stay in Keller.”
I left his one for the person I stayed with in Las Colinas
“XXXXX is a Renaissance woman, wine connoisseur, expert photographer, and future travel blogger. She’s been to over 41 states and has the pictures and video to prove it. I had fun with her and her friend Juan the one night I stayed in Las Colinas. We sat around, shared wine, took goofy pictures and told stories. If you have a car, it’s worth it to stay a little further out from the city. She was very accommodating.”
Couchsurfing Tip #3: Bring a gift, even if it’s small. I had a six pack of Dublin Dr. Pepper in my car. I gave it to the Las Colinas host.
There are several other rules to couchsurfing, most are talked about on the site. I’m going to try and cover more of the unwritten or implied ones. There are several other tips I’ll be publishing once I get to be a more experienced couchsurfer.