on December 5, 2013
So now you have made a profile, made some friends, and earned some references, but you still don’t have any Couchsurfing experience. The next step is to be off to a new place with the hopes of making local friends through the CS network.
First, a word on timing. You'll find that some hosts like to have a while to prepare for surfers while others won't know if they can host until the last minute. I've found it reasonable to start looking for hosts about a week before you plan to arrive. Send some requests and wait to hear back. If you haven't found a good fit in a few days, you've still got time to send more requests. If there are important details about your trip, like specific dates or arrangements, you should probably start getting in touch with hosts a little earlier. That way you're more likely to find someone who can accommodate your schedule.
Once you have your dates worked out, you'll need to know whether you are looking to surf a couch or just make friends in a new place. If you are just looking for friends the best resource will probably be the city's group message board. You might find that there is already a planned gathering for when you're in town. Or you can post your own. Mention that you'll be in town and would like to meet up. This way everyone in the group can see your post and any replies. You'll likely get responses from locals and fellow travelers alike.
If you're dead set on surfing a couch, it's going to take a bit more work. Start with the Surf link on your couchsurfing profile or homepage. It will take you through a method for entering your destination, the number of people you'll be traveling with, and a description of what you plan to do on your trip. The third step of the method shows you the profiles of all your potential hosts. Depending on where you're headed, you might be looking at tens of thousands of potential hosts.
Just relax and start by being more specific in your host search. Use the options given to apply filters. Would you prefer to surf with a host of a certain age or gender? You can even look for people you might already be associated with through a friend or group. Play with the filters and put in the time to read a few extra profiles.
If you're concerned about safety and security, try filtering out any potential hosts you wouldn't be totally comfortable surfing with. If the filters don't cater to your preferences you're just going to have to go through and read some profiles. If you're particularly concerned, look for potential hosts with plenty of positive references. You can learn a lot about someone through what their past surfers have to say.
When you’ve found a few hosts that you think would be a good fit, send them a couch request.