These days, nearly everyone has to have an online profile,
My Meager Online Profile Credentials
So let’s be clear, this is nothing I take lightly. As someone who is fairly introverted and somewhat shy (unless there’s fermented deliciousness involved), and also a solo entrepreneur who often works alone, I’ve seen my share of online site profiles, mostly in the dating world prior to travel sites.
I’ve seen if from the guy’s view (obviously), but also from the women’s view (when helping my girl friends out with their profiles). And as a side note, I’ve seen some “interesting” profiles from women, but you women deserve a medal for some of the BS that I’ve seen us guys shoveling!
One Friday night long ago I was hanging with two female friends while they sat and brainstormed one of their profiles. I literally couldn’t take it anymore, as the potential results seemed imminently frightening, so I handed them the bottle of wine, thanked them for their well-intentioned yet I’ll-fated attempts, then proceeded to channel my inner “Kristy” and write the profile.
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Don’t be a Hack Monkey
So let’s get back to the real reason we’re here, which is to get you set up on your budget travel way with a proper and rockin new profile. The beauty of this is that if you knock one profile out of the park, say Couchsurfing, you can essentially just take excerpts and duplicate elsewhere on the travel sites, so do it right the first time. And… Go!
Know your Audience
The people reading this are going to be up against the choice of whether or not to let you, an essential total stranger, into their home. That’s a big deal! They’re not going to want some rando with very little background info and a hazy picture from when they were 14 and no background info setting up shop in their humble abode. Who would you trust in your place? Keep this in mind as you’re going through the next steps.
Don’t Skimp on the Profile Pictures!
Look, we all know you’re the selfie king or queen of your rightful corner of the world, but excess selfies on a profile screams “I don’t have enough friends so I have to take all of my pictures myself.” This might seem far fetched, but people on travel sites (and others) want to see that you’re normal and interact well with people, not that you’ve been banned to a self-appreciating life of selfie mastery.
Use Your Words
Here’s another place not to skimp. There’s just no excuse for being skimpy on offering up information in your online profiles. Tell them your background (education, where you’ve lived, where you’ve traveled, what your profession is) and then tell them your foreground. Wait, is that a thing? No, seriously, these are people that are willing to help you see a new place by either harboring you or letting you live in their house for an extensive amount of time. They deserve some details!
The travel community is extremely giving, and they will appreciate seeing and hearing about your dream destinations, then they’ll likely help you get there through tips and stories of their own travel. Give as much background as you’re comfortable with here, since you’re just trusting them with info, while they may be trusting you with their home!
Get References as Quickly as Possible
Nearly all of these sites are based on a referral and rating system similar to Amazon. But here you’re getting rated on being a good, normal, and often helpful traveler. You may think this has to happen after you travel, but actually it doesn’t. First, you can have other friends sign up and then give each other references.
This is two-fold; you’ve just got your first reference, and now you have a potential travel buddy! Next, look inside the site community for posted local monthly meetups in your hometown community. Couchsurfing and AirBnB, have opportunities for you to go out and be social with people in your own town at which point you can get some references. In the long run, more references equals much easier travel accommodations!
Get your online profile “Verified!”
This is huge in my book. I don’t want to think badly of people, but it’s inherent that if I see a profile where someone hasn’t even gone so far as to validate their identity by supplying a phone number, that I’ll get a little skeeved.
Yes, for some sites these cost a little bit of cash and time, but it’s usually minimal, and to me it tells the viewer that you’re truly interested in making a real impression and that you’re taking it seriously. And the minimal fee is typically a wash the first time you have a free or cheap place to crash instead of an expensive hotel!
Be Responsive to profile questions
This one is really kind of an extension of your online profile. If you’ve done all of the above and (hopefully) proven that you’re legit and worthy of a host inviting you into their dojo, but then you are completely unresponsive during the communication phase, you’ve essentially just shot yourself in the foot.
When you request for a place or for a surf spot, make sure you do it at a time when you’ll be able to be responsive for a day or two to hash out the details. Be legitimate and swift in communications, and you’ll reinforce all of the great things you put in your profile.
There you go! Now you’ll have a rocking new travel profile on all of these great sites that are just brimming with cheap travel destinations for you to try out.
Enjoy, and let me know where you’re going first!