For a good decade, CouchSurfing was an extremely popular hospitality exchange website, with 100x the membership of alternatives like bewelcome.org. However, CS commercialized, and gradually started becoming restrictive in search of income/profit, until eventually it became subscriber only during the covid-19 pandemic. A telling of its "downfall", so to speak, can be found here.

I'm assuming the vast majority of CS users are no longer on the platform, considering the upfront demand of payment (although obviously I can't verify this). I also know that BeWelcome has seen a surge of new members since 2021 - but, still, they only got ~50K-100K people. I know there are at least a couple of other hospitality exchange networks, like trustroots and warmshowers, but IIANM they're even smaller.

My question: What's happened to all those CS users? Have they completely stopped engaging with hospitality exchanges? Are they on sites I'm not aware of? Or perhaps - were the CS numbers inflated somehow, with the vast majority of members not really ever active?

Note: Please don't post purely speculative answers. If you have solid information, that's great; if you have anecdotal information, it depends on how much of it you have.

  • 5
    Without asking all those people where they have gone, how can we answer your nominal question? BUT .. given the multiple links only to "bewelcome" and not to any of the other sites you mentioned, this "question" could be construed as a promotion of "bewelcome".
    – Peter M
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 13:59
  • 1. I don't understand your question. 2. Added links to the other sites. BW is the largest AFAICT, which is why I linked there.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 19:48
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    It's just like money in the economy... it's possible that they went nowhere and couchsurfing is a lot harder now than it was in 2012.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 22:40
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    I concur, remember the Yogi Berra quote: Nobody ever goes there anymore — it's too crowded. When couchsurfing was a smaller, presumedly tighter knit community, trust was easier to establish. Also, airbnb. Why give your couch up for free when you can get money from airbnb for it?
    – user4188
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 3:46
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    @chx: Size trumped trust for sure with CS. With the other sites, in most places there's barely anyone to ask for hosting; with CS there were lots and lots everywhere (well, relatively speaking). And you used profile content and people's comments to give trust.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 6:36

2 Answers 2


A partial answer based on, well, claims on the CouchSurfing subreddit and other gossip here-and-there:

  • Indeed, BeWelcome.org seems to be the most common alternative people have chosen.
  • Couchers.org was started recently, with the CS paywall coming up. It may have more users than you might expect for a new initiative which is still in beta.
  • The number of users on TrustRoots has increased significantly, and is now apparently 60K.
  • It's possible that more people stayed on CouchSurfing than I expected, and have been willing to pay. But there isn't any meaningful evidence to back this possibility.

Finally, one needs to remember than the number of CS users was likely inflated. That is, many accounts were likely tombstones; and I've heard it argued that quite a few account were bot-created, although I haven't seen any evidence to support this claim. It is not easy (for me) to estimate how many active users CS had when it had 12M registered users overall.


Impossible to know many active members are on CS, but searching for recent logins shows poor results in most locations (recent logins < 6 months/reply rate). BeWelcome.org has 200,000 members, and do a annual clean up, that turns profiles with non-functioning email address/ lack of logins to inactive in search. 200,000 means you are likely, when using the right approach (personalized messages, full profile) find a host in most locations. Of Couse, no paywall/ no ads/ no verification fee/ registered charity/ volunteer based are the bonus points.

  • "searching... shows poor results" - can you be more specific? How are the results poor?
    – einpoklum
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 9:32
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    -1, because BW doesn't not remove inactive accounts. Its own statistics show that 2/3 of the members have not logged in for at least a full year, and only ~10% of members have logged in during the last month.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 9:34
  • 6 months ago - a clean-up of inactive BeWelcome.org accounts was carried out (suspending those who didn't log in after 5 reminders). 18632 accounts were suspended. Members need a platform of active members with an active email address. That is why accounts accounts with an invalid email address were also suspended. We remain transparent about our active membership, our non-profit nature, our mission, purpose and values, as well as where every penny or cent of your donations go. bewelcome.org/communitynews/206 Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 8:58

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