What is Couchsurfing?
“A hospitality exchange and social networking website”.
It gives you the chance to host someone at your place, or (if you are travelling) to stay at a local’s house for free.
For me, CS will practically providing the opportunity to immerse myself in the world of a local and at the same time live my time abroad on a relatively low budget.
How it works?
Couchsurfers have an online profile stating who they are, why they are couchsurfing and if they are available to host right now. They also may have a picture of their house, or the room they offer. The wandering CSer sends a request to the host CSer, saying some things (duration mainly, the rest is on their profile) and this is how they arrange it.
I know, I know, you are gonna ask if it is safe to stay at a total stranger’s place. The good thing about that is that after someone is hosted, he/she can leave a positive/neutral/negative reference and write some comments on that. So if someone has, say 46, positive references, eh, it’s probably safe..
But why couchsurfing?
Apart from the “it’s free dude” factor there is another really important thing for me here. I feel that when someone opens the door of his house is like opening a window on his life. You can see not only his habitat, but also his hangouts, maybe you meet his friends, you get to know things about his country – what’s his point of view.
It’s so profoundly cool that I feel there is no need to write something more..
It’s kind of self-explanatory..
Ok, so, it’s just Couch-surfing?
No, there is also another great thing you can enjoy through Couschsurfing. There are events taking place, mainly in major cities, where travellers meet, have fun, share their experiences, tips, ideas etc.. Networking and socialising, apart from enriching your intercultural understanding can be really useful!
Ah! I almost forgot, there is another similar platform gaining credibility for some time now. It is called BeWelcome. Its main difference is not being a corporation (like CS is). It’s a volunteers-based platform, which may have fewer members, but, according to the BW site, they are more eager to host. Let’s see.
* Wherever there is no available host I will be staying on… hostels where I can take the bicycle with me or lock it in a safe place. To be honest though, I anticipate sleeping under the stars in a relatively warm and safe area of the planet. 🙂