Let’s say that somehow you missed hearing about couchsurfing. I’ll let you know everything you need to know as a beginner to decide if you want to join this community or not.
Couchsurfing rocks! That’s what millions of couchsurfers can tell you. But that doesn’t mean it would rock your world too. Here’s what you need to know as a beginner.
1. Is Couchsurfing for You?
Imagine the perfect (or less perfect) stranger coming to your home and you greet him with a smile, maybe a hug, and let him stay overnight.
Or you travel to a remote part of the world, after exchanging a few emails with someone, and you pop up at his or her door, and you get great hospitality.
Does it sound scary? Fabulous? If you are not sure about it, stop reading now.
2. How Much Does Couchsurfing Cost?
It Costs Nothing, It Pays a Lot. While some believe that there’s no such thing as a free meal or free couch, others believe that the best things in life are (still) free. Couchsurfing is the best thing to happen to many happy travelers.
Couch, floor, bed, single or king size, in a tiny apartment, hotel or villa, you can choose to surf someone else’s place. And more often than not, the ride is magnificent.
Visit the Couchsufring website and register for free. You have no obligation to host. Still, you can travel and get a place to stay. It’s free. It’s like traveling to visit a friend that you didn’t know you had.
Don’t think that this is all about saving money. There are lots of couchsurfers with houses with pools. Some live on Palm Island in Dubai. There is a former Senator of Cleveland living in one of the 4 remained Victorian Style houses in the city.
And still, they are all part of this world-connecting concept. The idea is not to make the trip cheaper, but to make one richer. Couchsurfing is for those that instead of products and services choose to consume experiences.
Couchsurfing makes you see how the locals live. You get to see the places, taste the food, and do the traces that no guide will make possible even if you follow the off-the-beaten path (how long can the path be offbeat once it gets published in a Lonely Planet guide?).
Traveling is not only about seeing the world. It’s about seeing yourself in a different world, from a different perspective. And if you don’t travel, but have someone visit you instead, you get a chance to see your own town with new eyes, eyes of a traveler.
3. Is Couchsurfing Safe?
Surfing someone’s couch can seem like an extreme sport. But millions of people throughout the world are up for this adventure.
If you are concerned about couchsurfing safety, let’s just say that meeting someone in the bar and taking him home is riskier.
There is a verification system on the site, plus references and vouches. There’s always a chance, but it’s not likely you will meet a mass murdered (or someone that have decided to kill you specifically), and when it comes to someone stealing from your home, one surfer, I mean couchsurfer, said: “If someone comes all the way from another part of the world to steal my TV, oh well, he needs it more than I do.”
The biggest danger once you fall in love with couchsurfing is that eventually you stop doing sightseeing, and you only care about life seeing.
People are the greatest sight of all. There are spectacular sunsets, incredible beaches and mountain peaks, but it’s the people that leave the deepest mark at the end. It is people we connect with that stay when traveling is over. Until the next time. And when you are a couchsurfer, it doesn’t take long until the next time.
If you don’t travel to see the world, you open the doors of your apartment and the world comes to you. But not the media meditated chewed-for-you kind of world. It is the world you can get only from the first-hand experience. When you dig deeper and deeper below the surface, when you take a look behind the curtain, behind the walls of the old towns, you get your own story mixed with local smells, flavors, and sounds.
Cover photo: travellikeavagabond.tumblr.com