Couch Surfing 101: The Essential Guide to Dirtbagging at Your Buddy’s Place

Proper etiquette is key. Photo: Courtesy of Paolo Nicolello/Unsplash

Maybe you’re on a road trip. Maybe you missed your flight. Maybe you’re broke and biding your time before you become a full-blown dready woodsy. Whatever the reason, you are surfing couches from one pal’s house to another.

Many a mountain folk have ridden the frothing wave of vagrancy, but not everyone can do it for extended periods of time and still remain a welcomed return visitor, as well. Remember, you’re just three couch cushions and one friendship away from being completely homeless.

There are rules and regulations to be minded, but couch surfing is the highest art form of the mountain town skid. Here’s how you can do it, and do it in style.


Think of the refrigerator the same way you thought of the door to your parents’ bedroom when you were a kid – when “funny” sounds came from behind it … For the love of sweet Mary, keep it shut.

Bring your own grub. And don’t be the guest that warms up two-day-old tuna in the microwave. No stinky nosh allowed. You’ll have to make your kimchi, salmon, hard-boiled egg, lutefisk, Limburger cheese, pickled pig-butt smoothie somewhere else. And buy TP, ice cream, and LaCroix for the house. (Buy in generous quantity and buy often.)

Visitors bearing gifts are asked to return, and typically not kicked out.

No Smoochin’

No. Absolutely not. This isn’t college. Nighttime gymnastics in co-habitated spaces ain’t cool. It doesn’t matter if it’s a childhood crush you’ve pined over for decades, a Thelma & Louise Brad Pitt look-a-like, or Cindy Crawford from those 1990s Pepsi commercials; you are not allowed to hook up in your friend’s house. No one – not never – was ever allowed to stay couch surfing following a low-tide love affair.

So, think of yourself as asexual as a Ken doll, and as unattractive as Beaker the Muppet. You are a sexless neutered tree stump, but a tree stump that has a place to sleep. Sorry, there are no exceptions to this rule.

Photo: Courtesy of Annie Spratt/Unsplash

Flatulence Is Not Cool

You sick monkey, don’t you dare. Not even if it’s the size of half a mouse sneeze, a butt trumpet of any kind is inappropriate. If you must, get at least a mile away from your pal’s abode and wait an hour before returning.

And if you can’t do that, make your lower GI reverse the direction of the yuck vapor until it can be expelled out of your mouth as a complimentary remark of your friend’s interior decorating capabilities. That’s not possible, you say? Not with that attitude. Figure it out. Because toots will get you sent packin’. Nobody likes the stinky friend on the couch.

Be Conscious of Deuce Detail

Can you employ the “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown leave it around” rule? Will your friend appreciate your water rationing green initiative? No, no not at all. You need to be mindful of usage and frequency of use. And also, with gratitude for saving your dirtbag life and allowing you to occupy their dojo, you need to clean the bathroom. A lot.

It doesn’t matter if their loo looked like some moldy cheese furry science experiment when you arrived. Don a HAZMAT suit if need be, but get your keister in there and make it look like you used a turbo-charged power washer. Get all the cracks and crevices; use your floss in the fissures of the shower and your toothbrush in the hard-to-reach angles of the toilet.

In fact, the commode should be so clean when you’re finished that you could eat a bowl of Cheerios out of it.

Leave No Trace

The same leave-no-trace principle used in the outdoors – leave only footprints and take only memories – should be applied to your pal’s casa.

Get out of the house before they wake up for work, return after they’ve gone to bed, and pack out what you pack in. Scour the house for your micro-trash, bits of food, wrappers, dandruff and other skin flakes, loose hair, bad breath, carbon dioxide, your existential essence; anything at all that is yours or could be traced back to you in any way should not be left about.

It should be as if you’ve been sleeping outside behind their trashcans, like they never even met you, like you’ve never been there at all. In fact, you should probably just do that. Just leave. Leave right now.

Surf’s up, friends. Happy skidding.

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