Couch surfing ~ short-term travel is fun again

Back in the days of escudos and francs, traveling abroad used to be a lot of fun. However, as the wave grew, everybody and their hamster decided to roll under humongous backpacks and head out for what turned into a rite of passage. Now, the competition for even crappy hostels and bathroom-sharing hotels can be completely annoying (then again, those are the nights that you also might end up sleeping homeless on some balcony over the Mediterranean). Well, couch surfing provides a new way to get even more out of short-term travel than you could before and to make friends along the way.

For as much as people think that the Internet has brought the creeps into our homes, an even stronger statement can be made that it has actually brought an even greater number of good people together. The Internet-born travel social site couchsurfing.com exemplifies this fact.

This site allows people around the world to find spare beds and couches to crash on people’s homes from Brazil to Bremen. It’s probably the greatest thing to happen to foreign travel since study abroad programs were started. Many of the people that I know who have done it have said that it was the single best decision that they made on their trips.

Personally, I will avoid traveling to a place if I don’t know someone who lives there. I prefer drinking slow coffee in the morning to jumping up and running out to see every touristy site. Couch surfing takes out some of the time required to actually meet people from every side of the globe. And thankfully, for those afraid of the creepier side of the Internet, reputations carry forward too — whether you’re a guest or a host.

The key to couch surfing is to make sure that you treat your host with respect and that you host people yourself when you can. Great hosts earn great reputations and certainly deserve to be treated in a similar manner when they head out to surf their own way around the world. Occasionally, this repayment comes in some sort of third-party karma because the hospitality is paid off in greater sized circles. It seems to work and hopefully it won’t be spoiled. The best way to think of it is as “guest currency.” You won’t always barter your couch for theirs, but you will be remembered if you leave an impression, either good or bad.

Another site you might like if you’re interested in traveling, is matadortravel.com, which is a website started by a friend’s brother. You can meet new people to potentially couch surf with or just get advice on where to go. You can create your own profile and offer advice as you see fit. Or you can just sit back and soak it up as you surf from your own couch.

Check both of these sites out and read this article from Sydney too if you want to know more about the history of couch surfing. Then get out there. Banjul awaits.

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Posted on September 30, 2007
Filed Under Surfing, Travel | Leave a Comment

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