My FIRST Couchsurfing Experience, in Osaka (Japan Accommodation)

January 25, 2017


I first discovered Couchsurfing while editing an article on budget accommodation for my company's travel blog. Since Japan is infamous for its expensive accommodation and I'm travelling solo this time, I decided to try Couchsurfing for the first time in my first Japan destination, Osaka. After I tried Couchsurfing, a lot of my peers, most of whom are fellow avid budget travellers, asked me about my experience and I thought I could share my Couchsurfing experience on my blog.

What is Couchsurfing?


Screenshot from Couchsurfing dashboard

Couchsurfing is a website that connects travellers to locals. You can get an authentic experience in a local's home while on your travels, host travellers who are coming to your country or meet up with travellers in the city you are/will be in.

Couchsurfing is completely free, although you may wish to bring a souvenir or two from your country as a gift, and people are doing it because they love travelling, meeting new people from around the world or hearing stories from different travellers. Think: hitchhiking, but for accommodation. You can find out more on Couchsurfing's About Us page.

Is Couchsurfing Safe?


It's the same with Airbnb — there are risks involved have an discerning eye when choosing your hosts or the people you're meeting and you'll do fine. Check out their Couchsurfing profiles, read their reviews, get to know them more before meeting them, and don't ever exchange personal information.

My Couchsurfing Experience (in Osaka, Japan)


About two weeks after putting up the date I'll be in Osaka, I had 4 hosts offering to host me in their city, all of which could speak English and had decent amount of reviews on their Couchsurfing profile.

  1. A couple in their mid-fifties
  2. A small family of three
  3. A man in his twenties
  4. A man in his thirties
Now I would prefer staying with the couple or the small family — pretty self explanatory — unfortunately their houses were out of central Osaka. As someone setting foot in Osaka for the first time, I didn't want to deviate too far from the city, especially when I only had a day in Osaka.

My second choice was the guy in his twenties because, I presume, we would have more conversation topics since we don't have much of an age gap. Unfortunately, he didn't have an extra room to offer me and I wasn't too comfortable with sharing a room with a guy I don't know.

I went with the man in his thirties in the end because he had the most amount of positive reviews on his Couchsurfing profile (50+ of them) and his place was 10 minutes away from Nishi-Umeda, which was pretty near to transfer stations like Hommachi, Shinsaibashi and Namba Station.

Messages sent on Couchsurfing's website

After a few message exchanges on Couchsurfing, we exchanged numbers to continue the conversation on WhatsApp, where we set a meeting time and place. That was pretty much the end of our communication till the day of my flight where my Couchsurfing host sent me a message to confirm our meeting.

The journey from Kansai International Airport (KIX) to our meeting place near his apartment at Nishi-Umeda Station took a little longer than expected because I was confused about getting out of Osaka's airport, had to purchase my Osaka Municipal Subway card, figure out the stations and lug my >20kg up and down Osaka's merciless stairs.

My Couchsurfing host was forgiving about my tardiness even though I was thoroughly embarrassed because I was already asking for a huge favour by staying in his place! He brought me to his apartment, gave me instructions how to get in, showed me my room and his place, taught me what every button is for and which buttons to avoid because we know Japanese toilets and bathrooms are insanely complicated.

What not to do before a 7am flight: drink till 3am

After I was done unpacking / repacking my luggage, it was about 2pm. My Couchsurfing host sent me to the door and we agreed on a meeting time at night. I started exploring Osaka, and returned to my Couchsurfing host's apartment at our agreed timing, about 9pm.

I actually went to the wrong apartment because a lot of Osaka's buildings look similar and had to trouble my Couchsurfing host to put on his winter wear so he could look for me outside *face palms*

I didn't have the opportunity to interact much with my Couchsurfing host because I only had one night in Osaka and I spent the most of my day out exploring Osaka but I'm glad my first experience with Couchsurfing was a positive one. I have to admit I was a little scared given my petite frame and the fact that I was travelling solo for the first time but my host was funny, warm, polite and accommodating.

After wandering through Osaka for a day

Couchsurfing Tips

  • Always have a backup plan in case your host decides to back out because they are not obligated to be responsible for your accommodation plans.
  • Some female solo travellers choose to only meet up / host / stay with other female couchsurfers
  • Don't be afraid to reject someone you're not comfortable with meeting / hosting
  • I felt really bad that I didn't have time to talk to my Couchsurfing host, so I think it'll be great if you can buy a gift for your host in case you don't have time to chit-chat. At least your Couchsurfing host has a piece of your country to remember you by!
  • Take photos of your Couchsurfing host's apartment in case you get lost like me
  Lastly and most importantly,
  • Be alert at all times and listen to your sixth sense.

All in all, Couchsurfing is definitely a great alternative for budget travellers as long as you're careful and selective of who you meet :) Here's to staying safe while travelling solo!

(This blog post is based on my true opinion from my personal experience, and is in no way sponsored.)

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