I’ve been wanting to try couchsurfing since I heard about it on the Indie Travel Podcast. I’d heard the term “couchsurfing” but wasn’t aware it had become organized around a bona fide social networking site: Couchsurfing.org. The premise is simple: You set up a profile and then either host travelers or stay at host’s homes. Couchsurfing is free, no money is ever exchanged. Profiles establish who you are what you have to offer potential hosts or surfers. The site also has a system for verifying members identities via post cards and small Paypal deposits.
If the prospect of staying with strangers based solely on their Web profile makes you a bit leery, I’m with you. I was both eager and apprehensive about the whole notion. It’s discouraging how just a few Stephen King novels in one’s youth can foster a lifetime of subtle concern for encounters with axe murderers. ;)
Taking the plunge proved far less melodramatic.
After posting several requests I ended up staying with the nicest couple ever: Kim and Dina in Tallahassee. Both were very accommodating and endlessly interesting to talk with. They have a great house and two very cute dogs. They fed me several meals (something a coushsurfing host is in no way obligated to do) and directed me to some nice local sites. I don’t think I could have asked for a better first couchsurf.
And best of all, “Heeeere’s Johnny” was never mentioned.
Couchsurfing is a great way to save money traveling but it’s real utility is in meeting interesting local folks. It can get a bit lonely on the road so a few nights of quality company via couchsurfing is a great way to make solid connections with people.