Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

The Joys of Couchsurfing

by : 
Nicole Salomon

Have you ever dreamed of going to places all over the world without paying a lot of money? Have you ever asked yourself what you are doing in a boring club somewhere at a beach where everything is included and planned for you? Are you brave enough to jump on the next train or plane with one of your friends/older siblings without having booked a hostel or a room in a hotel? If all of this applies for you, you should keep on reading this article because I might have a solution for you.

Diving into a culture

Couchsurfing is the new way of travelling for open people who want to explore a country off the beaten tourist tracks.  You can discover a culture from a completely different perspective with the help of locals. All you have to do is register on couchsurfing.org and create your own profile. Then you have to make a choice: either you provide a couch (or bed) for other travellers to stay or, if you do not have any space in your house, offer to take people out for a coffee.

Turn around your Globus!

Now it’s already time for the big map of the world which you will find on the Couchsurfing website! Have a closer look: in almost every country people will offer you a place to stay! Sometimes they can only host you for a night, but often they seem to be quite flexible and will be able to take you around their area and show you the best bits personally. In that case, you can even benefit from their knowledge! I can promise that you will definitely prefer these guides to the ones you know from booked tours … Maybe check out lonelyplanet.com first to see which places in the country of your choice you would like to visit. This enables you to plan your trip a bit better and to select different “couches” on your route. Now send a message to your potential hosts and wait for an answer.

A great option: Slovenia

Whilst you are waiting, I am going to tell you about my first experience with Couchsurfing. My boyfriend and I had no idea what Slovenia would be like. The only thing we knew was that the country was a part of former Yugoslavia. We decided to go there spontaneously and sent off our messages. Obviously we were quite excited when we took the train from Vienna down to the capital Ljubljana. I have to admit that we were a bit nervous about Couchsurfing, too. Our doubts were, however, completely unfounded. I have never met people that were friendlier and more outgoing than the ones we stayed with. Not only did we see the beautiful capital (which is rather central) but we also went to the south and the north of the country. In Koper, which is a town right by the Croatian border, we lived five minutes away from the sea. Our (different) hosts cooked dinner for us every night. Up in the north we lived close to the mountains with astounding clear lakes and great ruins. We stayed in an artist’s art gallery, which was an old farm house. Our host even took us to a dance night in a bar. You ask which means of transport we used? Well, we did use the train during this week, but only twice. Locals told us that in Slovenia it is still common to hitchhike. Of course we would not have done it on our own. As a couple we felt safe though. People who took us in their cars were either our age or parents themselves.

Keep it in mind …

Right now may not be the right time for you to start Couchsurfing. Don’t worry, though! I promise you that it will certainly be popular in a couple of years. With the globalisation of our world, more people start exploring our huge planet. And you can be one of them, starting your first amazing adventure.

 

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Discussion

Do you like the idea of couchsurfing? Why or why not?