Couch surfing…. What do these two words remind you of? For those who have never had any experience with it, it might not mean anything. However, when you look at the name, it’s not hard to guess what this party is all about: a journey, experience, adventure, and more.
For any experienced couch surfer, it’s a whole lifestyle. A lifestyle that chooses staying with a local who knows the pulse of their city, the best places to be and events to see, full of stories you’ll never find in a guide book, and right in the gritty downtown, over some flamboyant 5-star hotel in the suburbs, with swimming pools and the ocean and the other perks of a rich, uncanny life. So, if you are still eager to know more about what couch surfing has to offer and why it could be your best friend on any journey, read these five tips below on how you can benefit from and use this program to your full advantage.
When I started couch surfing in 2012, I was studying at university and couldn’t travel at the time, but I was always happy to know people. Some travelers didn’t need a couch, but a nice hot cup of tea and a person to talk to. That’s how I made my first few surfer friends. However, if you decide to host someone, that’s great! You can bond with that person, get to hear their adventure stories (which are often mind-blowing) and even receive a gift from their country. I still keep in touch with all of my couch surfing friends—it feels nice to receive a message from your pal in another country asking how you are, reminiscing on the fun times you had years ago.
If you are surfing, choosing to stay with a local host might not be such a bad idea. In fact, it might turn out to be the best decision of your life! First, you have to pay “nada!”, which means more money to save for some other fun things on the road. Second, this host can introduce you to the best places you’d never be able to visit if you were following a tour guide. That said, you’d be honored to get to know the place from the inside…and, frankly speaking, wasn’t that your ultimate goal?
Plus, you get the bonus of actually connecting to your host, making friends, and even, in some cases, meeting others if your host decides to introduce you to his community. So, you better behave well, smile, and be open to all the amazing things this place has to offer. Be careful, however: with this tempo, you might become a local expert yourself.
When it comes to safety, most people would probably get away from staying in some other person's home or even hosting someone with three backpacks from Germany. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. Nobody should let themselves feel unsafe. But if putting your trust in complete strangers worries you, let me remind you that the main purpose of couch surfing is to make friends or feel familiar in an unfamiliar country or even save some pennies and get in touch with the local life. However, there are some hard realities that cannot be avoided.
There are situations when you simply can’t get along with your host. That's life, not all people can connect! In which case you just walk away and find someone else to stay with. Besides, with a modernized platform like Couchers.org, you’ll be able to see all the ratings and reviews of that particular member, which is genuine and can’t be altered by the system itself, only by real people who already met this person. There certainly still remains an issue of trust, but that’s the same trust you exercise when you embark on a journey or decide to meet a stranger. At least with Couchers.org, you can consult the community and make an informed decision about a potential host.
I’ll say it: couch surfing can open a whole new world for you. That’s the truth. Deciding to meet hosts or staying with them in one house brings up incredible opportunities to immerse yourself in the real lives of local people, seeing how they live and living with them every moment you are there.
When I lived in Bali, I lived with an incredible local man who not only introduced me to his many friends but also showed me places the tourists never go. I had a chance to eat authentic Balinese food, learn some Indonesian, swim at beaches that were free of noisy crowds and flashing cameras, and even witness how devoted the locals are to their everyday prayers and religious lifestyle. It’s breathtaking, as it makes you feel, even for a moment, that you are a part of this life, of this community.
My fifth point is a summary of all the points mentioned above plus one more. Convenience—that’s the word I would use to describe Couchers.org. It’s easy to register and find people. It’s easy to check the safety of each person and even get to know more about their personality traits and habits, as you can read everything from the reviews to their personal albums. You can also easily chat with them before meeting face to face. The system provides you with all the necessary tools to make sure that’s the host/surfer you’d want to be around.
After surfing or hosting, you can share your own experience with that person, and I guarantee it’s going to be a positive one. As I said before, there is a big chance you might even stay in touch with them for a while and share memories or stories of your adventures for many years to come. Couchers.org is a great platform that has kept developing and flourishing over the years because underneath there exists a genuine, kind purpose of connecting people all over the world and making their travels more convenient, memorable, local, fantastic, unforgettable, and fun. Trust that it can be fun for you too. Take a step in a couch surfing community and I promise you’ll fall in love. Open your heart to a life of adventure and life will open itself up to you.
Written by Anna. Published on 2022/01/26
Anna is a graduate MA student from Russia, living in China since 2016. She has been an active member of Couchsurfing, hosting people at her house in Russia and China as well as being hosted by locals in the South East Asia, making friends along the way. She is keenly interested in international community and is eager to give her best to make this world a better place for all the humanity and beyond.
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