Geir was the 4th host Stella and I contacted in our search for Couchsurfing hosts in Oslo, Norway. We typically send out 2ish unique and specialized requests in the areas we are visiting, and have gotten very good response rates. How?! You need to read the hosts profile, and in your request try to connect with them on a more personal level then “hey can I sleep on your couch for a weekend?”.
We ended up finding a host that would host us in Oslo (not Geir) about 2 months prior to us actually being there. I did all my safety checks (facebook friends, other reviews) and he seemed like a dependable stand up guy. After our initial conversations, we didnt hear much.. well anything.. from our host. We needed an address of where we were staying (I would always notify friends and family of where I was staying in the event of anything ever happening to me), and more information on when and where we were meeting. After countless emails sent, and none returned, we realized we were ditched. Our warm comfy couch in the center of Oslo was probably out on the street, or had a new room mate that didn’t want 2 Canadians hanging out with them. We realized this a week prior, and with our spotty greek WIFI managed to send out a few last ditch efforts to secure a couch for the week. Down through the rabbit hole came Geir.
Geir has hosted hundreds of surfers, in his 4 years with couchsurfing, and we were so blessed to have had this amazing weekend with him. He literally had an excel spreadsheet of when his surfers were coming, for how long, if they overlapped, where they were from just to keep it all organized. Our bed was a European pull out couch in his living room, which fit the two of us gals perfectly! We had 2 other surfers come and go during our 5 day stay with him, Maria from Spain who was so amazing and nice – we really enjoyed meeting her, and a girl from London who just seemed like she was out to get a free nights stay somewhere -… yes unfortunately people don’t always respect the community aspect of the organization…. Nonetheless, Geir quickly set up his inflatable mattress and made sure all of us girls were taken care of. His place was clean, centrally located, and safe, and not to mention he was by far the best host we have ever come across. He cooked for us, brought us out with friends, recommended restaurants and museums, helped us get around with public transport, kept us safe at night by walking around with us after dark and/or insuring we knew where we should and shouldn’t walk at night, took us to a festival, and he even drove us out to the airport at 4am on our last day. We lucked out, big time.
We always try to do something for our lovely hosts as a thank you for hosting us, so we made him a traditional Italian dinner one night along with a bottle of Vino (which costs a TON in Norway). Thanks Geir, you are truly the best, and the reason why this couchsurfing community continues to thrive. Stella and I had an amazing time with you, and still hope you come and visit us someday in Canada!
I cant stress enough how amazing the couchsurfing community is, and thanks to Geir and a few other of our hosts this summer in Europe, Stella and I feel as a happily contributing part of this community. You can make of it what you want, but I suggest:
- Getting started in your own city.
- Work on your profile. Make your profile interesting and unique. Get verified and put up a few pictures.
- Attend meet ups, host people or if you cant host them at least meet up with them and show them around. You will build great relationships, increase your friend count and positive reviews on the website, and have a blast while doing it.
- When you are being hosted make sure to help around the house, clean, cook, keep your stuff tidy. They are letting you into their homes so be extremely respectful.
- Offer to take your host out for dinner, or make them dinner one night as a gift for hosting you. (Or buy them something small that you noticed they need – we bought glasses for a host once because he only had 5 plastic cups – Ikea in Scandinavia, hear we come!)
- Have a back up plan (hostels/hotels) in case any hosts back out last minute. It happens, and it sucks, but its not the end of the world.
- Always tell someone where you are. I left my family at home with a list of names and addresses of the places I was staying in case they needed to get in contact with me, or needed to find me for any odd reason.
Get out there and try it out. Please come back and let me know how it goes, and what your experiences were. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!