Since 2004, CouchSurfing.com has helped travelers worldwide find budget accommodations, connect with people from different cultures, and offer insights into their local communities. It was going strong until 2011, when Couchsurfing changed its non-profit status to a for-profit corporation and accepted 8 million dollars in a Series A funding round. A year later, they took an additional $15 million in a Series B.
After years of silence, in 2016, Couchsurfing’s attempt to introduce fees for surfing sparked widespread member discontent. One day, it lost all the user trust when it locked the profiles of millions of global users overnight and decided to implement a paywall in 2020. This raised the need to look for CouchSurfing alternatives.
Couchers serve as one of the top free alternatives to the Couchsurfing platform. The platform was created to tackle the paywall of the Couchsurfing platform and address other issues like paid services, safety concerns, and technical bugs.
- No membership fee
- Active forum to connect with the whole community
- Working on a beta version that lacks several features
- Lack of quick customer support
The reviews on the internet give a mixed response. Some point out the long turnaround time for their responses, while others are gratified to enjoy the hosting experience and old Couchsurfing spirit.
Gianni, on Trustpilot, gives 2 stars and writes, “I have generally been happy with Couchsurfing.com, even if initially regretting the yearly cost. Couchers.org took months to respond to my single query. On Couchers, you need a separate login to address the Forum, and there appears to be no admin, just volunteers responding. I do wish Couchers good luck.. but if I know how things work in the world, it won’t be long before they start moaning about the pressure and start charging too. Is it sometimes, better the devil…….? Call me cynical.. but think I will stay with the devil!”
On the other hand, a discussion on Reddit reveals that Couchers still doesn’t have the response that Couchsurfing still gives people.
Bewelcome – For Backpackers
BeWelcome is another Couchsurfing alternative that works with the not-for-profit approach. Currently, the BeWelcome community hosts around 200,000 members worldwide.
- Easy to use with a user-friendly interface
- Simple sign-up process
- A free platform to meet new people while traveling. No membership fee.
- Issues with customer support
- No blocking feature is available to users
According to the Trustpilot, travelers face issues with support and safety. Run says, The website is excellent. Most of the experiences I’ve had with hosts have been lovely. However, the Safety Team has next to zero power to help users. The website does not have a ‘blocking’ function, so if a user is being harassed with messages from another user they had a lousy hosting experience with, the advice of the safety team was to “just ignore the messages” on the basis that people could just create new accounts and continue harassing people that way.
Andreas, on the other hand, talks about suspicious deletions. He says, “My profile that I created in 2018 was deleted without any reason in 2020, then I created a new profile again in the same year, and now they deleted my profile again in 2023.”
Trustroots – For Hitchhikers
Trustroots aims to create a traveler community for hikers, nomads, and hitchhikers that serves as a one-stop destination to meet new people and enjoy unique experiences. There is another faction called circles that allows to connect like-minded travelers.
The concept of the platform is simple. Access the dynamic map on the platform to explore other users and hosts in a particular location and connect with them to share accommodation or start new friendships. The community has expanded to 100,000 members and is growing.
- Offers mobile support for both iOS and Android
- Free and open-source platform
- Trustworthy core team
- Limited members in the community
- Limited options outside Europe
According to some reviews about Trustroots, the platform is more prevalent in Europe than in North America. I did not come across anything negative except
Warmshowers – For Cyclists
Next on the list, Warmshowers is a haven for cyclists to explore new destinations and share experiences with people on the way. The platform offers an active community of 185,000 users around the globe.
Create your profile and then search the host by name or location. Get all the information about the hosts through their profiles with their contact details. Once you pin down the host, you can connect with them for new experiences.
- Offers an active forum for users to share information
- Offers a live podcast to share new information with all cyclists in the community
- Better response rate for hosting than other alternatives
- Like Couchsurfing, the platform has put a one-time joining fee of $30
According to the cycling forum, the users enjoy a reasonably good response rate for hosting their accommodations, and the joining cost is worth every penny.
Servas – For Promoting Peace Through Travel
Being one of the oldest platforms in hospitality exchange, Servas aims to promote peace and understanding among communities through travel. The name of the platform Servas translates to “To Serve” In Esperanto. The platform aims to connect people from different regions, ethnicities, and nationalities to foster cross-border friendships.
Currently, the company has a community of 15,000 hosts in hundreds of countries. The low member count is due to their strict joining process. Contact the Servas team through the online portal in your current location to arrange for the interview. Pay the membership/travel fee, which varies according to the country, and complete your profile to access the Servas website. If you are a traveler, you can search for the hosts and contact them.
- Safe place to connect with verified hosts around the world
- Offers numerous hosting options around the globe
- Strict interview and joining process
- Not free
According to the review site, the platform is safe and allows you to connect with verified people and share new experiences. The joining fee will depend on your country of residence.
WWOOF – For Organic Farming Enthusiasts
WWOOF originally meant Working Weekends On Organic Farms. Over time, this acronym transformed into World-Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms.
With an aim to enable people to volunteer and live on different organic farms, WWOOF has created a global network to connect Volunteers (WWOOFers) with hosts. WWOOFers provide a helping hand on the farm and home for 4-6 hours a day, and in return, the hosts provide accommodation, food, and new learning opportunities to become self-sufficient on the farm.
Once you pay the registration fee, you can easily set up your WWOOFer profile and contact different host farms that pique your interest. Being a reasonably independent program, all volunteers work directly with the hosts throughout the process.
- Easy Sign-Up Process
- Around the Globe, service provision
- Hands-on learning of new organic farming techniques
- Paid membership with additional costs
- No Visa Support By WWOOF hosts or organization
Many WWOOFers post online reviews, primarily positive ones. On the other hand, others find it disappointing because of exploitation and leave it in between.
We have tried to cover all the platforms that are just as safe as CouchSurfing.com and offer great options. Gladly, most of these platforms don’t come with any membership fee. So, you save on that front!