Couch Surfing Etiquette 101

Whether you’re pursuing your dream — or trying to get back on your feet after a minor setback — it’s a good chance that couch surfing will be apart of your journey at some point. And if you’re not the one sleeping on the couch, you’ll probably be the one opening up your doors for a few weeks to help a friend out. To assist with keeping those friendships strong, here are a few tips to make your couch surfing experience one to remember.

  1. Be honest about how long you need to stay.

If you know you’re going to need more than a few weeks to crash, tell the person who’s opening up their home to you. In many cases, you’ll get at least a couple of weeks to live before the host asks you to start contributing to bills and rent. Planning out the arrangement will keep the lines of communication open, which keeps all parties involved happy during the transition.

  1. Invest in a storage unit no more than 1-4 miles away to house your bigger items.

To couch surf successfully you want to make the living space appear the same as it was before you arrived, perhaps even better. Keeping all of your belonging in a storage unit will help keep the place nice and tidy. This also forces you to spend less time at the house. As for what to keep with you — work/causal clothes for the day, fitness attire and something comfortable to sleep in should suffice.

  1. Keep the kitchen, bathroom, living room and your sleeping space clean.

You definitely want to make sure your sleeping space is clean. However, helping to keep the bathroom, living room and kitchen clean is a common courtesy that lets your host know you appreciate them opening up their space to you. Keeping the dishes washed and pearly white will easily make you one of the hosts’ most favorite guests.

  1. Make sure the house is filled with cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

Find out what your host normally buys and make sure the house is stocked. The host should never have to buy any cleaning items while you’re staying there. In case you’re strapped for cash, or just don’t want to spend a fortune on supplies, it may even be possible to find what you need at a dollar store in the area.

  1. Do not enter the house with shopping bags if you’re not chipping in on bills or rent.

I’m not saying don’t treat yourself, but if you do decide to go on a shopping spree, it’s probably a good idea to take all of your new things straight to your storage unit. And be sure to rip the tags off before bringing anything new into the house.

6.  If possible, keep working from home to a minimum.

Comfort and complacency are your biggest enemies during this time. You need to stay hungry and develop an adventurous spirit to get out and make things happen for yourself again. LA is filled with plenty of cool places for artists to work. If you don’t have a car, buy a metro pass, pack a lunch and prepare for day full of adventure.

7. If you can’t split the bills, at least try to pay the difference you’ve caused.

Before your arrival, the gas bill was about $40 a month, now it’s $50 due to the additional showers and meals being made. Offer to pay the difference. There’s a good chance the host will decline to accept, but showing effort and willingness to help out even during tough situations will go a long way.

8. Keep in mind that this situation is only temporary.

Having to sleep on someone else’s couch can be a very humbling experience, and can easily cause an individual to fall into a pit of self-doubt and self-pity — comparing your shortcomings to successes of others. However, during those times you must find it deep within yourself to believe that what’s going on in the present moment is working for your good in the future. Use that time to conduct a thorough self-evaluation where you examine the actions, habits and decisions you’ve made that have lead to your current situation. After your evaluation, commit to a plan of action that will produce change in your life.

While couch surfing might seem stressful, and like a never-ending tale of cluttered spaces and limited sleeping positions, it’s a good way to measure your progress and have something to look back on. Hopefully you’re off to big things in LA, but if it’s slow and you find yourself couch surfing for a while, just remember that “you’re only facing what other men and women have met.” Happy creating folks.

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