Couchsurf the World

17/12/2013 19:51

Have you ever thought that an overnight stay in London, Berlin or Rome completely for free is possible? And that’s not even the best part of that. Apart from this, you can have a welcoming host who shows you the most secret places which you won’t find in a guidebook. From now on you don’t have to pay for hotels and hire guides to get to know the city. You just need a positive attitude, some time to find a host who’s got a free couch and… it’s time to hit the road.

The idea of couchsurfing arose in 1999 when Casey Fenton wanted to find a place to stay in Iceland. He sent an e-mail to over 1,500 Icelanders with a request for the possibility of an overnight stay. Surprisingly, he got 50 positive replies. This fact has produced the beginnings of the Couchsurfing project, and today over 6 million couchsurfers are signed up to it.

 

How to become a couchsurfer?

Firstly, you have to create an account on the website couchsurfing.org. In addition to your name and surname, you are obliged to give some information about your hobbies, the knowledge of foreign languages, or things you can teach others. Now comes the matter of the couch. If you don’t have a spare one, you can still offer your floor for others (remember to clean it before your guests come). As you probably know, having a sleeping bag allows you to sleep wherever there’s an empty space.

A person who is looking for a couch can write a direct message to a possible host or create an open request which everyone can see. Each profile includes comments and recommendations of the given person, so you don’t have to be afraid you will come across someone who will leave you with bad memories only. The user decides on his own if he feels like hosting someone or being a surfer in the place of a particular person. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

 

Let the journey begin

Couchsurfing isn’t just providing your couch for someone. It’s not a database of free hostels where you can sleep without paying and then go out. You are not only exploring the city you’ve come to, but also getting to know your hosts and hanging out with them. Who knows – maybe you will have an opportunity to drink a beer in the best and secret bar in the given city?

My adventure with couchsurfing began a few years ago when I hosted a couple from Warsaw who travelled over 300 km to take part in a movie festival held in my city. It turned out that the guy was the founder of a famous charity event and ran across Poland in one month (from the west to the east in one year and from the north to the south during the next year). Two months after their visit, I went to Warsaw to meet them once again and visit our Polish capital. We are still in touch, and if it’s necessary, we help each other in different ways.

During my “host career” I also had a great pleasure to meet a Scottish guy with whom I took part in a real football match and discussed plenty of different issues concerning Scotland. At the end, he gave me the most lovely gift I could get – some typical Scottish food. You can’t imagine my happiness!

However, the real fun starts when you couchsurf abroad. New places, new surroundings and people who you may never meet again. A Korean boy in Berlin, a Czech girl in Wrocław, or a Polish guy in Vienna. You never know who will remain in your memory forever. That is why we should appreciate every second of our journeys and people who we run into on our way.

So now it’s your chance. Sign up, update your profile and prepare for the best experience of your life.

 
Katarzyna Szuba

 

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