Probably you know the idea or at least you heard the word “couchsurfing”. And if not – you really should!
Couchsurfing is the world’s largest social travel network, connecting a global community of travelers. Although it is a worldwide community of more than 6 million people in 100,000 cities who will open their homes to guests at no charge, Couchsurfing aims to bring like-minded, travel-oriented people together for the sheer good of it—the cultural exchange, the personal connection. And one of the benefits is that you can obtain insider, locals-only travel advice before you leave home, and a comfortable place to sleep free of charge when you get to your destination.
I first joined Couchsurfing because, well, I needed lodging in Singapore and could barely afford a hotel or hostel. I was intrigued by the concept of staying with residents of cities I was visiting, but it was financial necessity that made me take the plunge for real. I signed up for the website, filled out my profile, and reviewed a couple friends in hopes that they might return the favor.
I went into my search for lodging in Singapore with no real reviews from actual couchsurfers, but managed to find a place to stay with a friendly host. I ended up staying for 7 days in posh condo in Orchard Road, and it made for a really lovely experience of the city.
BUUUUUT. The charm of this idea is totally not connected with this “for free”. Staying at somebody’s living room means getting immediately into a local community, local habits, family or guests of your host, sharing stories, sharing experiences. During one breakfast together you will get more information about the city and places to visit than from any of the travel guides. If your host has time – he will show you his places, places you cannot get without a local, you might meet his friends.
I love the slogan of couchsurfing: “friends you haven’t met yet”. It is like this, indeed. We met so many amazing people by surfing or being surfed!
Sounds uncomfortable and dangerous? Hmmm, like the whole life! 🙂 Of course couchsurfing is not for everyone. If you need a lot of comfort and privacy – better don’t risk. If you are difficult, complicated person, who usually fights with others – better don’t risk.
You might meet somebody, funny, boring, smart or stupid, with very different points of view. You have to be open, for new experiences, for new ways of preparing food. But, from my perspective, the worst what can happen is that somebody will snore in the next room.
Couchsurfing has been a really cool way for me to meet new people and get out of my comfort zone. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try if you have a couch to spare. Or even not.
Has anyone else used Couchsurfing in their travels? What would you show someone visiting your city that might not be on the typical tourist’s itinerary?