Couch Surfing is the best way to stay with amazing locals, make lifelong travel friends and live the real local experience while you travel.
It is not only for free, but you can even have a real local experience wherever you travel.
What the hell is Couch Surfing?
There is a website called www.couchsurfing.com where you can find hosts who offer free accommodation for travelers, anywhere in the world. It's the online hub and premier social site for helping budget travelers and backpackers meet potential hosts all over the world.
Some hosts are often traveler themselves, or former travelers, or even expatriates who moved to another country and want to stay in touch with the travel world. On the other hand, many hosts are locals who are interested in making friends from other countries or practicing English. They all have one thing in common: they all open their homes with warm heart to strangers for free.
Couch Surfing is so much more than just staying at some ones place for free.
I've travelled all over the U.S. staying at Couch Surfer’s homes everywhere; I spent 5 weeks in Hawaii without spending a dime on accommodation using Couch Surfing, and currently I'm travelling across Mexico, doing the same thing. I really love this way of travelling, because besides saving a lot of money on accommodation, you meet so many interesting, great and generous people, who you would never meet if you stayed at a hotel. I like sharing stories and life experiences with them and listening to their stories, too, because you can always learn something from everybody.
On the other hand, they can show you the real face of the place you visit. I don't like being a real tourist. Obviously I visit touristic places, too, but I love hanging out with locals, going to places where they go and doing things what they do. In my opinion this is how you can have a real picture of foreign places. When I was in Maui for example, my host took me to lots of places which are not even marked on the map or in guide books, they are only known by locals who have lived there for ages. Sometimes there were just the two of us hiking in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by nature, beautiful birds and waterfalls, without meeting anybody during the entire hike. It was wonderful!! And I wouldn’t have seen those places if I didn't stayed with him.
That's Jonny (my host in Maui) and I
And these are our feet after a barefoot hike in the jungle
Is Couch Surfing safe?
So far I had only good experiences. All my hosts were really awesome. I made so many friendships through Couch Surfing already, I still keep in touch with most of them.
Do you know how you can make sure your host is a good person? You can read all the reviews about the hosts written by other couch surfers, who stayed with them already. So if you read the reviews, it can be a kind of safeguard.
First of all: I only write to those hosts who have reviews on their page already.
Secondly: I read all, or most of the reviews. After reading a couple of them, you can tell if it's a good idea to send them a request or not.
Thirdly: If someone has quite a few good reviews already, but all of them say only like "It was nit staying with him", or "Everything was good", etc, it gives me the feeling that they just didn't want to sand a bad review to the host. If you really enjoyed staying with someone, you definitely write a great, long explanation why you it was so memorable.
Last, but not least: most hosts are boys for some reason. Travelling as a young girl, you also have to make sure that they are not on couch surfing only because they want to hook up with somebody, so I always check if they welcome only girls, or girls and boys, too (they have to set it up on their page which gender they prefer). If they host only girls, it also tells something to me, so I don't send a request to them.
Actually, hosts can have the same problem sometimes that travelers try to hook up with them. My host in Maui for example didn't want to host me when I sent him a request, because he said he had some troubles with single girls already who stayed at his place. Then I told him my story that I've just got divorced and I'm going to Hawaii just to clear my mind and enjoy my life, then he accepted my request, because he could totally relate to my story. And guess what, I was supposed to stay at his place for 5 days, and I ended up staying there for 3 weeks :D We became such good friends form the first moment we met each other. We still keep in touch and he is planning to visit me soon :)
Jonny and I doing a 30k hike on the top of the Haleakala Crater
Currently I'm in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, and I have such blast with my host. He is a 65 years old guy from Texas, who moved here 5 years ago. He is such an awesome person. He showed me around the city with his motorbike, he took me the two different local's market (because I looooove local markets), we had a great BBQ dinner last night along with very nice conversation. He even gave me his room to stay and he moved to the sofa in the living room. Isn't he cool?
He has a very cute home with lots of plants in the garden and had a great rooftop terrace overlooking the city, as well. The city center is 10 minutes walking distance and the local's market is right next to his house.
We are having a lot of fun together, I wish I could stay longer than 4 days, but I gotta keep going to see other places, too :)
That's Kim and I, heading to a city tour by his motorbike
I hope you got some inspiration if you have't done Couch Surfing yet. If you have, I would love to read your experience about it in the comments ;)
P.S. I will post about my travels in Mexico soon, keep updated by watching my feed. I hope you'll like it :)