If the idea of a free place to stay seems too good to be true, then you’re smart. Yes, Couchsurfing is free monetarily speaking. No money changes hands. But proper “surfing” etiquette calls for some form of reciprocation. Whether it’s cooking a meal for the host, buying drinks if you go out, or something as simple as doing the dishes, you are expected to pay them back in some form. Think of favors as Couchsurfing currency.
When Couchsurfing think hard about what you will give in exchange for your rent-free room, because nice gestures lead to nice references and nice references lead to an edge when there’s a rush in the market and you need to compete with other potential guests. If you folded the sheets and did the dishes you might just have the edge over the guy who flooded the bathroom when he showered.
So is Couchsurfing free? No. Feel free to show up with shallow pockets, but have a few solid ideas on deck to help out your host. When it comes to Couchsurfing, little gestures go a long way.