I live my life very deliberately – and I have very few regrets. In fact, my regrets are the usual…I wish I would have kept up my violin skills, I wish I would have learned how to ski at a young age, and I really regret I didn’t learn a language in college. But now I have one more to my small list…I regret I never tried couch surfing until this summer.
The usual reaction from friends and family was, “You’re going to do what?” “Do you know these people?” “How do you know it’s safe?” Couch surfing stirs up some valid concerns in people, but I decided I needed to finally give it a test run after 4 years of somewhat traditional travel and living nomadically. By signing up for couch surfing, I was going to stay with complete strangers while in Europe this summer. These weren’t my normal complete strangers that I often meet and talk to (aka internet/twitter friends), nor were they friends of friends – they were strangers; strangers with a couch, an open mind, and a love of travel.
For those of you who have never heard of couch surfing – it’s been around since 1999 and it’s here to stay; it’s now the world’s largest ‘hospitality exchange’ network with over 2.2 million members in 237 countries and territories. This isn’t a fad. It’s the ultimate travel community; encouraging people who love to travel to interact in various ways. This can be simply meeting for a coffee, walking around a city together or welcoming strangers into your home for a few nights.
It was my friend Lisa Lubin who was my tipping point to couch surfing finally. There are a myriad of articles that have been written on how couch surfing works, so I’m not going to re-write a fact based article – but to learn more on the ‘how’ here’s some great resources:
How it works
How to be a good guest
Instead I want to talk about my specific experience of staying with 4 different strangers who I know call friends in the Netherlands and France.
Meet My Couchsurfing Hosts
Before arriving in the Netherlands – I had organized 2 homes to surf in through the online network; a single man and a couple. I wish I could say that I chose them very carefully from a journalistic research point of view – but quite honestly, they were the two people who accepted my couch surfing request!
My first host in Amsterdam was a Canadian expat who had lived in Amsterdam for over 15 yrs. Graham was a veteran couch surfer; having played both roles as host and surfer. When I arrived at his apartment, he showed me his space, we sat and talked for a bit and then went out for an evening walk together around the city. He explained the layout of the city, pointed out buildings, things to do, explained how the transportation worked, and then we went to dinner together. That night I indeed had couchsurfing regrets…
The regret was simple, why did I wait 4 years to try Couch Surfing?
I quickly learned anyone with good manners and social skills can be a good couch surfer. Yes, you are getting a free place to stay, however that doesn’t mean that your host’s apartment is a hotel and they are the concierge. Since I have spent time house sitting, I simply approached it the same way I do when I stay in someone’s home for house sitting. The key is to give back more than you get.
Graham was the perfect introduction to couch surfing. I stayed on his super comfortable couch for 4 nights and he completely opened his home to me providing me a key, a large bag of maps and guides, and access to the internet! We talked endlessly about travels, cultures, photography, our families, the Netherlands, and expat living. Every time I had a simple question about where something was or how to get there, he helped me.
He accompanied me to the Aalsmeer Flower auction, on a bike ride to see windmills, and on a canal boat ride. I’d like to believe that I actually showed him things and places he didn’t know about in Amsterdam; but maybe I’m that’s a bit much to assume! My favorite times with Graham were the dinners. He made me dinner one night, and the next night I made an Asian feast for both of us; it’s about give and take. You are a guest, and you need to be a grateful guest. Considering I have no home – trust me, I’m totally grateful when someone opens up their home to me!
Next I moved on to a new home in Amsterdam for 4 more nights; the home of Akshay and Payal an expat couple from India who were somewhat new to Amsterdam. This time I didn’t have a couch, I had a whole room to myself! The first night we must have stayed up until 1AM talking and drinking beer. Payal cooked up an Indian feast including homemade roti…yum! I hadn’t had homemade roti since I volunteered in Delhi years ago. I had just met this couple but we immediately clicked. We talked endlessly about India and I had a hard time remembering where I was – India or the Netherlands; as these cultures collided in my head like bumper cars!
As we talked about our cultures and travels, I realized that one of the big benefits for hosts is they can sort of travel the world without leaving their home. By opening their lives to travelers from around the world they learn about cultures from around the world. So far, my experience with CSing hosts was they were thirsty for travel. Akshay and Payal went out exploring with me one day and in true adventurous traveling fashion I even convinced Payal to have her first raw oyster at the farmers market!
That evening it was my turn to cook. Since Indian cooking doesn’t really require an oven Payal wanted to learn how to use her new European oven. I decided to cook an American classic – my mother’s chicken casserole. We went grocery shopping together and I showed Payal how to make Midwestern American food; a processed food nightmare including canned cream of mushroom soup and Velveeta cheese. I felt a bit guilty for propagating unhealthy American food…but she said she wanted to learn it! Sharing cultural foods and stories with Akshay and Payal were a highlight for me.
Next I moved on to unplanned couch surfing for a few short stays. I stayed with a gay couple Rotterdam who opened up their amazing flat with two pudgy adorable cats. Daniel was Dutch and Oliver was Lebanese. This was perfect because I had yet to stay with someone actually from the Netherlands and I was looking forward to meeting Oliver since I was planning to be in Lebanon this winter. Daniel and Oliver treated me like a family member…cooking up a multiple course feast! They also helped me with all of my transportation for the next day when I wanted to go out and photograph the Kinderdijk windmills.
My final CSing experience was in Paris. I wanted to go to Paris to do photography so decided that I was having such good luck with CSing, I might as well continue down that path. Audrey and her cat Eros took me into their apartment for my very quick trip to Paris. I learned that Audrey not only used hosting as a great way to ‘travel’ without going anywhere, but she also used it to keep her English language skills up to date. Another great benefit for the hosts!
I was lucky enough to experience 4 very different environments from large to small flats, men, women, couples, expats, natives – but the one thing they all had in common was their generosity and interest in the world and other cultures.
I look back on my previous travels and wonder why I never tried this before; I feel silly for waiting so long. No more regrets – couch surfing will be a part of my travels moving forward. And if I ever do own a couch again – I will be thrilled to host travelers from around the world!
The benefits to couch surfing are numerous for the surfer AND the host.
Couchsurfing benefits that I discovered:
Doing Good – Let’s face it, the sharing of cultures and love of travel creates a better world
Social outlet – for a solo traveler like myself, CSing allowed me to go out and explore on my own, but have people to come ‘home’ to and talk about what you did that day which is one of the things I often miss when traveling solo. You can share your experiences with someone!
Insider information – every host armed me with guide books, maps, and sometimes even bikes or public transportation cards. I really had no need to buy any guide books before arriving in a new location.
Local Knowledge – I learned things about Amsterdam I never would have learned if I had stayed in a hotel or a hostel – like how steep the stairways are in an average Amsterdam apartment!
Lifetime Friendships – everyone of the hosts I stayed with are now friends of mine on Facebook and I converse with them regularly in the hope to see them again some day!
Saving Time – I saved oodles of time by simply being able to ask my host questions about how to get around or ideas on what to see/do. Transportation can be tricky and time consuming…but in my situation my hosts were able to provide me the information I needed to easily get around.
Saving Money – yes, you save money…but that really shouldn’t be your motivation for why you want to couch surf else you are missing the point.
The couch surfing motto is “Participate in creating a better world one couch at a time.”
Based on my experience, I think they are achieving it.
Thanks to my awesome hosts – Graham, Akshay, Payal, Daniel, Oliver, and Audrey! I no longer have any couchsurfing regrets as now I’m finally a part of the community!
It’s projects like this that give me faith in us as a global human race. It reinforces to me that even though we all come from different backgrounds, religions, families, cultures, and experiences – we CAN all get along.
By Jenny October 12, 2010 - 2:34 am
Couchsurfing is awesome. I regret not doing it more during my trip to South America. I’ve been host several times here at my apartment in Houston, TX though. It’s been an interesting experience and I love getting a snapshot of someones life.
By admin October 12, 2010 - 10:12 am
So glad to hear that you host too! If I had a place to offer I would totally do it!
By Audrey October 12, 2010 - 4:22 am
Dan and I have a similar regret – that we didn’t tried couchsurfing earlier. As we usually move at the last minute, we figured that it would be impossible to organize. But, the few times that we’ve been able to do it we’ve had great experiences like yours. And, we were treated to some homemade gelato that was perhaps the most delicious we’ve ever had!
By admin October 12, 2010 - 10:12 am
Actually the when I stayed in Rotterdam that was planned at the last minutes and they took me in. I realized that you don’t always have to have a host planned out in advance. Granted – I doubt that always works – but it’s worth trying. Plus – I found that many locations have groups on the CSing website which handle last minute requests. I never had to use it – but I think it’s also a good way to still CS if you didn’t plan ahead!
By Efrutik October 12, 2010 - 8:45 am
I have never participated in CSing yet, however have heard about it for a while now. The only thing I did was set up a mediocre account and serve through different profiles, in awe of people’s experiences. Your post today inspired me to finalize and update my profile. Most importantly to begin gaining faith in the true goodness and genuinely of people. I’m itching to travel far and beyond now…
By admin October 12, 2010 - 10:14 am
That’s great to hear! It really was a surprising bit of goodness that I felt like I stumbled upon! Do spend some time on your profile as the better the profile the more chance people will accept you. I was worried since I didn’t have any ‘references’ but people still accepted me because I put together a pretty detailed profile with lots of photos and ways people could learn about me. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
By Phil October 12, 2010 - 10:33 am
Yes, this is awesome! I am always happy to read these stories. It has been huge for me as well. I have been couchsurfing west africa the past couple months, and had similar feelings of regret – for not trying it sooner!!! Great post and your list of benefits is spot on!! B well, Phil
By audrey October 12, 2010 - 2:33 pm
Hi Sherry!! thanks for the nice funny pic!!!!
By admin October 12, 2010 - 3:26 pm
It’s the ONLY one I had of you! After taking all of those pics of Paris, I was running out the door and remember I needed on or you and Eros! Thanks again for your hospitality and comfy bed!
By islandmomma October 12, 2010 - 4:04 pm
I keep reading about this, but because I tend to move a lot (if I can’t actually travel, moving house makes me less restless!) I’ve been reluctant to sign up. You’ve definitely made me rethink and feel more secure about it!
By Anis Salvesen October 12, 2010 - 9:46 pm
Hospitality exchange is definitely awesome, and I share your regret that I did not encounter it earlier in life. I did a lot of traveling in Europe alone in my early 20s, and it would have been amazing to connect more with locals!
You are right on regarding the benefits! It is about making the world a better place. And I love getting and being able to give travelers the insider info. There’s nothing like seeing the real city, getting to know what life is actually like there.
My husband and I most recently had a really great hosting experience through Tripping (https://www.tripping.com) hosting a guy named Joseph from Dallas, Texas; it was wonderful! He had us laughing until well past the point where our sides hurt, and we told him about a place in San Francisco’s North Beach where they have sandwiches so good, he wanted to FedEx one home to himself! Joseph is a great guy, and we are invited to visit him in Texas – which is cool, since my husband and I have never been there.
For anyone considering staying with locals, I totally agree with you that it’s awesome – they should totally try it!
By sasti October 13, 2010 - 4:08 am
yes, CS is a great way to travel & make friends! Haven’t tried to surf the couch yet, but I had welcome several CSers to surf my couch… If you’re coming to my city, you def. welcome here! 🙂
By kale l October 13, 2010 - 7:44 am
man, what a small world! I stayed with graham for about 2 nights back in june, 2009.
We went out to bike and saw the windmill as well. It was even better, the windmill was opened when i visited. It only opens like 4hrs a week. Cheers.
By Gray October 13, 2010 - 11:50 am
The more stories like this I read, the more I think I really have to sign up for couchsurfing. I’m not sure I’d want to stay in someone’s home, but just to meet cool people from around the world would be great. I hadn’t thought about it being a good way to brush up on your language skills. That’s a good idea!
By admin October 13, 2010 - 12:16 pm
Gray – remember that you don’t HAVE to stay with someone overnight. You can also use the CSing website/community to simply meet for coffee – or walk around a city with a local. That’s a super way to ease into it and I’ll be doing more of that myself too! I hope you try it – if you do – please stop back and let me know what you think!
By Gray October 13, 2010 - 5:18 pm
That’s what I keep hearing, and it’s been a surprise to me, since I didn’t realize that.
By Alisha October 13, 2010 - 3:03 pm
I think couchsurfing is the best thing since chocolate covered strawberries, and I have had nothing but amazing experiences with truly great people with wonderful stories! I’m glad you’ve jumped on the couchsurfing wave, and I hope there are many more wonderful people you will meet along the way!!
By John Linnemeier October 13, 2010 - 3:17 pm
I traveled around the world for 3.5 years and probably gave my name out to a couple hundred people saying that if they ever came to Bloomington, Indiana to look me up. In all that time, only one person ever took me up on it, and I’ll be darned if I can ever even remember meeting her. Believe me though, after all the hospitality I’ve received on the road, this woman got treated like a queen.
The real reason I started checking out your blog was because I just published a book called “How an Average Man Lived an Adventurous Life” and was looking for ways to promote it online.
Check it out and if you like it and want to say something nice about it on your site, that would be great. I’ll send you a free copy if you would like. The website for the book is included in this message. In the meantime, I’m subscribing to your blog.
By Natalie - Turkish Travel Blog October 14, 2010 - 8:08 am
I have never tried couch surfing and don’t think I will. I am the type of person that likes my own company a lot of the time. When i want to be alone, then i will be alone whether the person picks up on my hints or not.
You can not really say to someone though, when you couch surf in the house. Go away and leave me alone.
By admin October 14, 2010 - 11:30 am
Natalie – I do agree – if you don’t want to partake in the social aspects of couchsurfing then staying at someone’s place might not be a good idea. However – as a solo traveler myself – I think there’s also advantages to potentially using the couch surfing network to simply meet locals and have a coffee with them or walk around their town. The Couchsurfing website/network is not only about staying overnight – but it’s about meeting locals in other ways too. I love traveling solo – but it is nice every once in a while to have someone to meet and talk to for a bit – especially if I can learn more about their city.
I know Csing isn’t for everyone and you certainly have to do what you are comfortable with – the important thing is to know yourself!
By jessiev October 14, 2010 - 11:24 am
VERY cool. i am intrigued by this, but for us (family of 3),i am not sure it would work. we need to host! 😉
By admin October 14, 2010 - 11:31 am
Jessie – you should look into hosting – I bet you’d love it! It’s such a great way to ‘travel the world’ without actually traveling!! Let me know if you have any questions about it!
By bdubz October 15, 2010 - 4:58 am
If you’re a family please don’t be put off. We’ve hosted families and we traveled to Germany for a family wedding and cs’d with our 15 year old son in tow. Our host had never had a family to stay but he said he would again. It’s such a great experience:) Our son loved it so much he’s planning on spending a year cs’ing around Europe before university. A train ticket, a backpack and off he’ll go, proving the theory that, given a chance, people can be bloody lovely.
By Mark H October 14, 2010 - 5:02 pm
This will be my trigger to try out CS. Great review.
By Lisa - LLWorldTour October 15, 2010 - 12:07 am
Thanks for the mention…and so glad to be a tipping point for you into something so worthwhile! I also wished I’d started sooner, but once I did…it became a bit addictive. Whenever I did opt for some alone time in a hotel…I wondered what fabulous local was I NOT meeting??
I’ve surfed in so many situations (many private rooms!) and with so many different people (older couples, locals, expats, etc). The beauty is…you pick them and they have to pick you back! And also…many hosts do understand folks like their alone time too…so it usually was a nice mix.
I am hosting now in Chicago and when i finally got a flat…it was an important thing that i had a ‘space’ for my futon for Couchsurfers!
It is something I never thought I’d do before, have strangers stay with me, but now it seems like the most natural thing b/c most Couchsurfers just ‘get it’ and have the same open attitude. Love it!
By Barbara at Hole in the Donut Travels October 17, 2010 - 10:51 pm
I’ve been a member of CS for a while now but have yet to have my first experience. Loved reading about your individual hosts and experiences! Your article convinced me I need to actually do it.
By Connie October 19, 2010 - 11:35 am
Aww, I’m so happy you enjoyed your CS experiences and writing positive things about it! I’ve been an active member since 2005 and I absolutely love it! Some of my best travel experiences were with CS’ers and I love sharing the concept of CS with other people! Thanks for sharing the love!
By Catia October 19, 2010 - 11:42 am
I’ve been putting off couchsurfing so far while backpacking and after reading this I’m really wondering why. I hosted briefly before I left Toronto and met some wonderful people!
This post might have pushed me in the right direction again, thanks!
By admin October 20, 2010 - 8:46 am
Catia – I hope you do try it! I can’t believe I waited so long!!!
By Shannon October 24, 2010 - 5:47 pm
As a mom, I guess I’ve never really considered couch surfing, although I’ve read stories of families doing this with other families. You’ve written a very convincing post on the benefits of couch surfing. Maybe one day I’ll brave the wilds and try it 😉
By Mohsin October 19, 2013 - 3:47 am
This post might have pushed me for CS. I never tried it but now am planning to explore some new places I love to meet new people. So any suggestions??? Where to start with?
By Sherry October 22, 2013 - 11:53 am
Just make sure you have a good profile set up and completely filled out with pictures- that’s the best way to start.
By Tran October 24, 2010 - 8:01 pm
New to couchsurfing.com. Any recommendations on how to get a good rating fast?
By admin October 24, 2010 - 9:35 pm
I don’t know about any ‘rating’ – but I do know that if you want your requests accepted you need to put some time into creating your profile. It needs to be thorough. Plus – You really need to be attentive and learn about the person who you are requesting a couch from. Make your request personal and let them know that you aren’t just looking at this as a place to stay. I was able to get my requests accepted without any couch surfing ‘friends’ or ‘references’ I did share my website with them too and encouraged them to look at it to learn more about me if they wanted to. That’s my best advice – and it seemed to work for me!
Good luck and let me know how it goes!
By Tran October 24, 2010 - 9:59 pm
Thx for the tips and for taking the time to respond!
By Christine T October 25, 2010 - 1:59 pm
Great that you jumped on the cs wagon. We did too after our year of travel. It’s funny, we hosted a few csurfers in Seattle before we left on our year long trip and didn’t cs for almost the entire year of our travels since we were travelling too fast. Then, in Ireland, we tried it and loved it. Our first host home was so good we stayed an extra night. Then, our host told us about a woman out in the sticks (not in the direction we were heading at akk) but she sounded so good, we sent her a request and she got back to us within hours. Next thing we know, we are visiting her and then she told us of a different way to go around the island that wasn’t so touristy. We trusted her advice and had the best experience. We sprinkled csing in with some hostels and had a heck of a great road trip around Ireland. Now that we are in Edinburgh, with a spare room, we are looking forward to having some surfers soon.
By admin October 25, 2010 - 3:01 pm
Oh – now I have one more reason to go to Edinburgh!
By Christine T October 25, 2010 - 4:05 pm
you are welcome anytime 🙂
By William K Wallace October 31, 2010 - 6:43 pm
I wonder how many Couchsurfers have unexpectedly ended up being kidnapped and held prisoner in some weirdos cellar for their captives pleasure. There is a downside to everything…
By admin October 31, 2010 - 9:14 pm
I think if you do a little research – you’ll find that it is as safe as other forms of travel and accommodation. However – if you are someone who doesn’t feel that it’s for you – then that’s fine; don’t try it. It’s not for everyone. I do encourage you to take a look at their website though and learn more about all of the safety measures which are in place through the hospitality network. You’d be surprised. I can only tell you of my experience – and never once was I worried and as I said, the people I stayed with are all people I would call ‘friend’ now.
By Emily Davis November 9, 2010 - 12:00 pm
Sherry – great website you have here! Thanks so much for sharing. I am on a 4 month sabbatical right now which has turned into a year (9 months in africa) – a mixture of working, traveling, volunteering, personal development. The experience has been amazing. Currently I am CSing! Have been doing a lot of surfing in Europe and Africa and cant imagine my life without the experiences and people I have met. Am trying out some long term CSing as well..am in Greece and have been surfing for a month. My host and I have surfed and hosted together now even at his place – doublt couchsurfing! I am a runaway from US corporate life as well and thank my lucky stars each day that i stopped to reevaluate my life and myself. And so many CSers are doing the same thing even while at home! So it is a great network of amazing people. Thanks again for your posts!
By Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World November 27, 2010 - 11:03 am
Oh, I love couchsurfing. It’s the only time I actually don’t mind playing host and having ppl in my place 🙂 But since we moved to a small city 45 mins away from San Francisco (there’s like nothing to do here unless you like to explore empty office buildings on weekends) no one has requested to stay with us 🙁
By Priyank December 30, 2010 - 11:59 am
Hi Sherry! I concur! I didn’t discover CS until recently. When I went to Russia, I stayed with host families. It was fun to experience a real family and how essential vodka was to their diet! Now, I’m a fan for life.
By Graham (one of the hosts in the story) January 23, 2011 - 11:06 am
Great article…I must say. I don’t know how I missed this earlier.
Many thanks! Don’t I have any warts at all? :=)
By Sherry January 23, 2011 - 11:36 am
Darling – you are no frog…you are a prince! Such an awesome host!!
By Nestor February 14, 2011 - 9:24 am
Great article and blog. Am digging through all your articles now. I have couchsurfed once and it was awesome.
And for those who feel uncomfortable staying at somebodies place, you can also just meet locals through couchsurfing for a walk or lunch. Its a great way to meet up with like-minded locals.
By Tom March 24, 2011 - 9:30 am
So good to read you liked the CS experience. I’ve been a member myself for years, but I have only acted as a guest because nobody wants to come to the little town I live in, haha.
It does’nt always work though. That’s not the fault of the idea, just a fact of life. Sometimes you have to move fast or at unpredictable times. It’s insanely hard to find a host (well, for a guy it is) in that situation. So if you do find someone … treat that host like a saint! Hehe
And in some countries/regions there’s simply nobbody to be found.
CS’ing works best in Europe/America/Canada I guess.
Anyway, another good read, and I’m glad you discovered CS’ing =)
By Irina Sazonova March 24, 2011 - 6:37 pm
I am a big, big fan of couchsurfing. I have surfed and I have hosted, I’ve also met many people for coffee or a drink and after a while we became friends or buddies. In fact, everywhere I go I keep bringing CS up and sound like a commercial (so I’m told) when I outline all of the positive features of CS and the amazing experiences that I have had.
In my experience I too have been hosted more by expats living in this or that city, but I think it can be explained easily – expats can totally relate to the experience of traveling and/or living in a foreign country, therefore I think they’re more likely to open their homes to like-minded people.
In my family no one really understands couchsurfing and honestly, I’m a bit tired already of trying to explain that if a guy drove me in his car to see the Atlantic ocean in Porto, Portugal, it doesn’t mean I have to pay him back in a certain way, etc. Sigh.
Nevertheless I immensely enjoy it. I’m making a stop home (Russia) after my 3 months in Berlin and everybody I know there now but my roommates and two other people I met on CS. Weekly meetings, spontaneous meet-ups, parties, coffee or a drink, museums, etc, etc. And the amazing thing is, you already know you share interests in common (well, at least one -> TRAVEL), so it’s never awkward or unpleasant. It’s just… fantastic.
As I said, I’m a big fan. 😉
By Tom January 12, 2012 - 8:58 am
It’s nice to see you’re a big fan. However I do not agree that you should tell everyone about it. Couch Surfing is a great experience if a lot of people with the same thinking get together. In the beginning it worked very well. Looking for people was easy and finding a place to stay too. But as the popularity grew, so did the problems. A lot of people are now on CS because it’s the “latest thing” and it’s “cool”. 15 year olds with no travel experience have profiles that list their intrests as “partying and hanging out” …
This does not help the CS community. It makes it harder and it takes people longer to filter out the “bad” people. With that I mean the people who actually have no intention of letting you stay, or meet up. Perhaps they say they will meet up but in the end don’t, and leave you hanging because of lack of understanding and commutment to the idea.
On top of that, a lot of people joined CS with the wrong idea in the recent years. People who do not have the idea of learning, sharing, experiencing a different culture etc. But people who “want a free place to sleep”.
That is exactly why CS asked (and probably still asks) on their site to not just tell everybody. Only tell it to people who you think can really contribute to the CS community. I’ve been a member for 6 years now and I only brought 1 person in. But she has hosted people and contributed in other ways as well. The community does not need people who are just looking for a free place to stay, teenagers who just want to be cool or people who won’t return your messages etc.
So, I do share your fondness for CS, and I’m glad you’re a big fan. However I don’t share the idea of bringing CS up to everyone, certainly not up to the point where it sounds like a commercial 😉
Happy travels and good luck to you!
By Paul December 15, 2011 - 2:26 am
I’m glad you travel a lot. I haven’t been on a plane or out of my home metro area since 2006. I expect to die never having left the US since 1992. I’m glad you can just pull up stakes and flit about. I’ll flit about when I’m dead. Happy whatever.
By AmericanBearFilm January 6, 2012 - 1:12 pm
Dear Ms. Sherry,
Hello! It has been a pleasure to follow your blog posts and articles. I did notice your practical articles about packing, but also articles like this one which I found very inspiring and down to earth. I love how your articles encourage meeting people and include your spunky personality. As a fellow blogger, I have found that there are a lot of challenges to meeting and understanding the locals and discovering new places. I was wondering if you may have something to add about interactions with strangers?
I am currently assisting on a film that captures the spirit of traveling in the US, titled “American Bear: An Adventure in the Kindness of Strangers,” and thought your readers may be interested in learning about it? We were wondering if you would be interested in writing a post or doing a guest post about the film for the blog website? We are really trying to get the ideas and enthusiasm that you touch upon out to our audiences, and we would really appreciate the help.
“American Bear” centers on an exploration two independent documentary filmmakers take on as they travel across the country for 60 days relying on nothing but the kindness of strangers for shelter each night. The insight that they shed on subjects such as community, trust, patriotism, spirituality, and nature are very powerful.
Please feel free to check out our trailer at: http://www.AmericanBearFilm.com and contact us at [email protected]. Also on our website, if you would like, please feel free to submit a Your Voice post, where a contribution of your travel experiences would be a great addition. Thank you for your time.
By Vicky May 14, 2012 - 4:02 pm
Sounds great, and I’ve actually only ever heard good things, but for some reason I’m still a bit reserved. I guess if I was going to do it I’d just need to check their feedback and go in with my eyes wide open. Definitely something to think about – thanks for your take on it 🙂
By Lucy August 20, 2012 - 10:28 am
Interesting – I’ve not tried couchsurfing yet either. I gave workaway a go last year, but I’ve not tried this yet. You’ve definitely inspired me to try though…
By Bobbi Lee Hitchon March 14, 2013 - 8:04 am
I’m the same way! I still have not tried it and I really regret that. It’s such a great way to make friends in a new city and of course save money. I think this post might be my tipping point. Next trip I take I’m making an effort to Couchsurf and housesit.
By Christian Eilers April 3, 2013 - 2:48 pm
Very good article! I am completely in love with every aspect of CouchSurfing, and I’ve met many of the most amazing people through this system – friends for life. I’ve yet to experience a regret!
By nins April 8, 2013 - 4:00 pm
hi, im read ur article and it was great… Im new to couchsurfing…would love to try it…
By Canyoning Wales April 25, 2013 - 5:47 am
I’m in the same boat as you. Myself and a friend gave it a shot earlier last year whilst traveling through Europe. The people we stayed with were amazing and the experience was so interesting. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking of giving it a try.
By Morgan June 24, 2013 - 7:27 am
As a future RTW traveler (and a young female), I’m bombarded with questions like, “Isn’t that Dangerous?” or “What if they steal your things?” and “Won’t you feel uncomfortable?” Have you ever had any negative experiences or ones that made you rethink couch surfing?
By Carla Allen October 12, 2013 - 6:47 am
Come couchsurf with me! You’ll love Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
By Sherry October 13, 2013 - 11:47 pm
I would love to! I was in Nova Scotia this June…sorry I missed you!
By Charlie June 22, 2014 - 6:07 pm
I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed Couchsurfing! I absolutely love it, and always thinks it’s a shame when I hear bad experiences people have had.
I’m going to be running a collaborative guest post on best and worst Couchsurfing experiences if you’re interested in contributing 🙂
By Sherry June 27, 2014 - 9:51 pm
Sure – you can send me an email and depending on the timeframe I’d be happy to contribute!
By jane August 15, 2015 - 9:49 am
i am offering couchsurfing on a beautiful lake called Schluchsee. I am doin it so that people have a palce to stay and can experience the beautiful black forest.
I am only offering a place to camp, with sleeping bags etc .
It is aimed at people who like to explore on their own, although i conduct some hikes, offer the use of a kayak etc.
most of the awesome people i have met have visited by couchsurfing, not all stayed over.
There are also bad points, people expect they are having their meals paid for when they accompany me and my friends to a resturant (that is so embarassing) and they expect me to accompany them 24/7 taking them on touristy outings, picking them up from train stations with loads of luggage, storing their luggage, providing them with a room in a house, with a bed etc (even though my profile says “camping out in a tent”.
I get guys , who look creepy, asking to be my friend and to stay over, and yes, to have sex with me.
Aso, i lend things to these couch surfers, and they leave without remembering to return these items (torches etc).
These freeloader couch surfers, who come with nothing, contribute nothing, and leave with things you lent them, as well as expecting you to pay for their meals at resturants, are so annoying. They also tend to be the people who keep changing their arrival dates and times.
But the non freeloaders are awesome people and we have great times together, and it is well worth meeting them.
You just need to be very selective on WHO you host (pick people who have been nice enough to host other people – that way you know that they are not the annoying freeloaders !