Europe Travelling

Couchsurfing in Vienna

It all started with a status that I put up on the Runaway Brit Facebook page.

Couchsurfing: Yes or no?
Couchsurfing: Yes or no?

“Couchsurfing: Yes or No?” 

Before long I had received 31 comments, by far the most comments I have ever received on one status. I knew I must be onto something.

“I would definitely recommend the experience!” said Dana’s Boots

“Yes, Yes, Yes” enthused Where Is Kait?

“I have nothing but good things to say about it” was the response from Miss Adventure: Teach, Travel, Live, Learn

And Skinny Chick Travelling told me about how Couchsurfing had “…changed [her] life in every positive possible way.”

I was overwhelmed by the response. And I was surprised to discover that most of the comments came from female travellers. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but experience has shown me that a woman travelling alone has to be more cautious than male or group travellers, and this is what has always held me back from trying Couchsurfing before. Yet here were a number of female travellers unanimously telling me to go for it.

I signed up to the website and left details of my trip.

Then I received a message on Twitter: “I have a flat you can use”

I replied to the message and we connected through the Couchsurfing website.

The apartment was very close to the central area of Westbahnof and within walking distance of Schönbrunn palace, making it perfect for sightseeing. I decided to take the plunge.

Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace
Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace

Less than a week later I was walking nervously from Vienna’s Westbahnhof train station to my host’s home.

My host had been working all day and seemed tired when I arrived, yet he still made me feel welcome in his house – offering me drinks, allowing me to use his washing machine, and showing me to his daughter’s room where I would be sleeping.

Having travelled extensively himself, he understood the needs of a fellow traveller and was a good host.

As it turned out he would be away for a few days and would be allowing me to have the run of his apartment to myself. Although I was hoping to use Couchsurfing as a way of meeting people this worked well, as I had a couple of friends in Vienna that weekend to catch up with during the day. It was nice to have a private base to return to.

Would I recommend Couchsurfing?

I love the idea of Couchsurfing, but I love my privacy too—I like a common area to hang out chatting with like-minded travellers, but I want a private room to spread out in. The apartment in Vienna was perfect, but I knew with that I had struck gold. In all honesty, I think that I would make a better host than surfer.

I received a few offers from other possible hosts for some of the places that I had listed on my itinerary. All of them were tempting, but after Vienna my friend and I travelled onwards together and decided to stay in hostels where we could meet other travellers.

Sadly, I received a few emails from men that implied there is a tendency for some people to use the site to hook-up. Of course I ignored these, so if you are a solo female traveller using Couchsurfing please make sure that you choose your host carefully by looking at the reviews. You could also find out information about them by looking at social networking sites (it’s amazing how many people have open profiles on Facebook!).

All in all, I had a very positive experience of Couchsurfing, and will certainly be up for trying it again.

Have you ever tried Couchsurfing? Maybe you haven’t tried it yet, but would like to? I would love to hear your experiences—positive or negative. Please leave a comment below.

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  1. says:

    I understand what you mean when you say you think you’d make a better host than guest! I’m pretty introverted when meeting new people, but I love couchsurfing…now and then. I’ve been both a host and a guest, and I think I’m more relaxed as a host, as I’m already at home myself!
    Sam recently posted..Food Porn Friday: Crepisimo, ArequipaMy Profile

    1. That’s the same with me, I am quite shy when meeting people so it takes me a long time to make friends. I am not really loud and outgoing which people probably expect a traveller/blogger to be. I think I would be a great host as I would offer all the things that I know make great travel experiences. Sadly, I currently live in a second hand rent apartment in Sweden with very strict rent laws so I don’t think I can be a host at the moment.

  2. says:

    It can definitely be hit or miss, though for the most part, if someone’s willing to let you stay there, they’ll probably be polite, even if you don’t end up best buddies. I only had good experiences, despite not “clicking” with everyone. But it’s also possible to use it as just a coffee meetup method. I met a guy traveling somewhere or other that would just go to a city for a week and meet a new person for coffee every day. Low-pressure and you’ll probably get a free tour as well.
    OCDemon recently posted..Haphazardly exploring the Crimean peninsula in UkraineMy Profile

    1. I was definitely made to feel welcome, and my host was friendly – but I felt overly conscious about being in somebody’s house, that I could never entirely relax. I love the idea of just using couchsurfing for meet-ups, maybe I’ll try that next time!

  3. says:

    interesting post. im an active couchsurfer in fukuoka, japan and i have been doing couchsurfing for more than 5 years now. one word for CS: awesome!

    follow our posts on about japan.


    1. I am willing to give it another go, as everybody says that Couchsurfing is amazing. I think I am just a bit too shy!

  4. says:

    I’ve never couchsurfed, but I have use Airbnb. We had a private room, met some locals and sometimes we were even fed! It worked out much better value than a hotel, but not quite as cheap as Couchsurfing either.

    1. I have used AirBnB once and had a great experience. I didn’t get fed though! How did you manage that?!

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