Summer is here! Time to start planning a fabulous vacation! Of course, a great getaway can be super spendy, but it doesn’t have to be. And that is where couchsurfing.org comes in. On couchsurfing.org you can find free lodging just about anywhere in the the world. Woah, yeah, i said it… FREE LODGING ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD! That’s a huge chunk of the vacay budget that you can just knock out of the equation. It sounds too good to be true, but it is absolutely true.
This is how it works: Friendly folks all over the world offer up their couches and fill out profiles that you can browse to find the perfect place to stay. Couchsurfing.org currently lists 834,377 couches in 232 countries! Just shoot off an email and if the host is free during the days you’re looking to stay with them, and they like the looks of your profile, you’ve got a free place to rest your head.
Now, you can check their website for more specifics, but I want to just share my super experiences with couchsurfing/hosting:
One weekend two friends and I decided to make the drive from Portland (where we lived, at the time) to Seattle. It was Thursday night and we decided to drive up the next day! We browsed around couchsurfing.org and found some friendly looking hosts that had been recommended highly by other couchsurfers, and sent out a few emails. We received a quick reply from Robin, who was not too busy in the coming days and happy to have us. A few emails later and we had the logistics all worked out, Robin’s phone number in hand, and we headed off toward the great wet north. As we drove closer to Robin’s house we called to report our ETA and mentioned our plans to head into downtown for the evening. When we arrived at Robin’s place she had a map showing the route from her house to downtown all printed out for us, with points of interest circled. Couchsurfing hosts are super at making recommendations for awesome things to see and do (and eat) in their home-cities! That’s just how sweet couchsurfing hosts are. For little more than gas money and the price of a beautiful flower bouquet we picked out at Pike’s Place Market to show our gratitude to Robin, we had a fantastic weekend (of course we spent money on food, but we would have had to eat if we sat at home all weekend too).
A free place to stay is stellar, but if you don’t have the time for a getaway, consider hosting couchsurfers! It’s loads of fun.
After our great couchsurfing experience in Seattle, my roommates and I listed our apartment and our lovely gold velvet couch on couchsurfing.org. In the next couple months we hosted a several couchsurfers, and always had a blast. It’s always fun to meet new folks and travelers tend to come with a lot of fascinating tales of where they’ve been and where they’re going. It’s also fun to be the expert on your hometown, ready to recommend your favorite restaurant or park. And here’s a BONUS: on more than one occasion, we had couchsurfers offer to cook a meal for our apartment to repay our hospitality! A lovely canadian couple cooked us a top notch curry. One dude, got in our apartment’s fancy start-of-autumn dinner and contributed a delicious veggy/cheesy dish that knocked our socks off.
I think I’ve set a new record for gratuitous use of the exclamation point with this post, but that’s just how enthusiatic I am about couchsurfing! Check it out. No, seriously, check it out.