couchsurfing

Home is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there

This Must Be The Place, Talking Heads

You won’t find a 1886 medieval mansion with a greenhouse and butler’s quarters on Airbnb. It is unlikely your hostel will greet you with a cup of artisanal coffee and I have never heard of a concierge at a hotel taking you to a punk house show.

If you are craving a more engaging or adventurous accommodation experience (because it’s more than just a change of scenery, right?) embracing Couchsurfing is a way to travel cheaply and meet locals around the world. A travel community based on global altruism, Couchsurfing connects like-minded travellers on an online platform where ‘surfers’ request to stay with a local host in a city. A fun fact – apparently there are more hosts on Couchsurfing than rooms at the Hiltons! The major difference is that Couchsurfing is accommodation at no cost.

In my six months of travel across North America, I have stayed with over 12 hosts in 10 cities so far. Before doing it myself as a solo female traveller, the idea of Couchsurfing made me nervous and I couldn’t help but think “what if they kill me?” (If you are having these same thoughts, don’t worry.) Arriving at my first house in Portland, I didn’t know what it was all about but I was curious enough to find out. And I am so glad that I did. I was on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure and I was going to waste a moment of it by playing small.

Turning up to a stranger’s home has been fertile ground for transformative experiences. In a matter of minutes, complete strangers have become good friends – sharing not only a place to lay my head, but also their time, friends, weekend plans and personal tours of the city. Couchsurfing hosts have gone above and beyond for me, and this weary traveller will be forever grateful for the goodwill offers of a fresh towel, hot shower, washing machine, a cup of tea, pickled preserves, bikes, WiFi passwords, cat hugs, spare keys, and shared time. The ethos of Couchsurfing: ‘Expect nothing, be grateful for everything’ makes you appreciate how big-hearted humanity can be.

Travel is a thousand unseen helping hands. – Joseph Campbell

The good intentions and generosity in the Couchsurfing community are unlike anything else I have experienced. Couchsurfing can open doors to new experiences – not to mention people’s homes – but there is some etiquette to keep in mind when using such a service.

How To Couchsurf Across The World

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The Pillars of Couchsurfing

The community is kept alive by a genuine intention for connection, where the currency of the service is presence – show up, leave expectations at the door, have an open mind and go with the flow. Invite to a band I’ve never heard of? Sure! Want to try Peruvian food? Would love to! Couchsurfing is not for you if you are looking for someone where to throw your bags, party all night and sleep in until 2pm. It’s a community for travellers, not tourists. Your host may well want to party (and those spontaneous nights in a new city are the best!), but also embracing the opportunity to hear someone else’s stories and perspectives (that lead to conversations late into the night) is where the magic is.

I have been driven across the Canadian border to catch a train, shown inside an abandoned church in Detroit, cooked vegan curry for a conscious community in Boulder, taken for a jaw-dropping leaf-peeping hike in Vermont, stayed with two male ballet dancers in Montreal, shared Korean bibimbap with a Turkish surfer direct from his first transatlantic flight, and serenaded by an all-male acapella group while being shown around MIT in Boston. I’ll never forget the midnight bike rides, sharehouse dinners, music swapping sessions, eating tours, wall jumping adventures, road trip sign-alongs, and every open-hearted soul who did not in fact “kill me”, in actual fact – they made me feel more alive than ever.

Far more than just a free accommodation service – Couchsurfing is a safe, fun and adventurous way to meet like-minded locals, have life-changing experiences and find out that we are made up of the same matter — human gold!

Hopefully, you are now ready to dive headfirst [sorry, bad surfing pun] into the world of Couchsurfing. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or find me on Couchsurfing.

Resonates

Comments

  1. Rola Lee says:

    Hi , did u write the article yourself ?It is unbelievable , it is the first time i see someone make it . COOL , wish that it is possible to stay at your couch for some days . Is the picture your living room ? so nice .
    Introduce myself a little bit :
    I am Rola , i work in decoration company in Macau right now.
    I planned to visit Perth in November , but my company give me some days off from 8/10–12/10 , so i am looking for hosts at last minutes .
    Hope i can get answer from you .
    Happy weekend !
    Rola

    1. Jayce says:

      The paragon of unnidstadreng these issues is right here!

Comments