Let me be the first to say that I LOVE couch surfing. Couch surfing can be a fun way to meet the locals in a destination you are traveling to. By meeting the locals you can go off the beaten path, learn a new skill, go on adventures and make new friends. I have couch surfed both with friends I knew in the places I traveled to and with strangers. For the strangers I went through the site couchsurfing.com and found hosts in the places I was wanting to go to. I have couch surfed in England and Canada and hope to add to the list!
I know what some people reading here are thinking, couch surfing with a stranger!!! That’s down right stupid and dangerous!! You could be, robbed, attacked, raped and……… fill in the blank. Believe me when I first heard about the site couch surfing.com and the idea of staying in people’s houses I’ve never met before, I thought it was crazy! I had a number of the fears that I listed above. I thought, “Is that really smart or safe?”
The thing is, we as a society have built up so much fear around each other. I’m not saying we shouldn’t take precautions and abandon all common sense. Don’t wander down a dark alley way drunk late at night waving your wallet around – that’s common sense! However its almost as if we’ve become so disconnected in this society. We sit on the bus in our own worlds on our mobile device and don’t make eye contact with each other. The beauty of couch surfing is it allows you to connect and have experiences with people in a meaningful way. You can share adventure, learn a new language, share a meal or two or a skill that you never would if you were just staying in a hotel somewhere.
My mentality has changed when it comes to couch surfing. I have done both hosting and have been hosted through couchsurfing.com. As a host I have had the privilege of meeting some awesome people, seeing my city through the eyes of a tourist, having my guests cook me a meal and providing a safe place for travellers to spend a night or more. Since I am a single woman and live in a bachelor suite I mainly host only women. But there are tons of other couch surfing guests that host men as well.
As well I have been hosted by people on couchsurfing.com. These have been some the richest and most rewarding times of my life! My first couchsurfing.com experience was on Bowen Island, BC with a French girl named Noemie. She let me have her room and had two of the most adorable cats! Her and I went on a day hike together up to the top of Mt Gardner. Such a great experience! I also stayed on a campsite with a fellow named Dylan in Tofino, BC. Another couch surfer named Mikiko from Japan joined us. We had a a blast sitting around the camp fire and Dylan taught me the right way to chop wood with an axe- haha. More recently I stayed with a really hospitable lady named Liz in Toronto, Canada. Liz was in her 60’s and had hosted hundreds of couch surfers from all over the world.
Now like anything in life use your discretion, listen to your gut and take precautions is a wise thing to do. I will generally stay with hosts or host people that have a couple of references – you can leave a reference on their profile. I generally as a young female don’t stay alone in a closed space with a male. I stay with people who have pictures on and have completed their profile. As well I use my intuition. Knowing the destination where you are traveling to is key as well. Having a back up plan like a hostel or hotel to stay at is also a wise thing too. You can read the safety guidelines for couchsurfing.com here.
I plan to use couchsurfing.com more in the future as I explore the world. As well this spring and summer I plan to host more surfers too. Couchsurfing.com gets two thumbs up and I can vouch for it. Remember to do your research, read a persons profile, use your gut and most of all have fun!! You won’t regret it!