Rewind to summer 2009.
One evening I got a text from a friend, which read something like this…
‘I’m walking to the bus station to meet a girl who is coming to stay at our flat for the night. We’ve never met before’
‘It’s called Couchsurfing. Look it up.’
These words opened up many doors over the next few years! When receiving the text I was in the process of planning my 5 month trip to South America. I clicked onto the Couchsurfing website and spent many hours searching through the website looking at profiles. I also created my profile; with just my name.
For those of you who don’t know; CouchSurfing is a website where you advertise your couch/bed/mattress/floor for travellers to sleep on for a few nights. You send requests to hosts and afterwards leave reviews for your hosts. The idea being that you get to see the ‘real’ country/ city by staying with locals and getting to know the culture.
Anyway, fast forward a few months. I met up with an old school friend, who loves travelling as much as I do, and we got onto the topic of CouchSurfing. I said I’d heard of it and had looked at the website. He raved about it and said that he had surfed around many countries. Now I’d had two raving reviews to use Couchurfing. So that evening I went home and completed my profile – added information about me and pictures. I then began searching for couches in Rio.
My first stop on my 5 month trip was Rio during carnival. I knew that carnival was going to be a VERY busy time for Couchsurfers so I sent off around 4 requests to hosts. The next day I received a message back from a host saying they’d be happy to host me. At the same time I was looking on the group for Rio and saw a post from Kelly asking if anyone was interested in travelling around after carnival. I hit reply. As if by fate Kelly had also messaged the same CS host I was staying with. We chatted on Skype and planned a few places to go after carnival.
In February 2010 Kelly and I met at Rio airport and headed to our CS hosts place. She was hosting another 6 CSers at the same time; I told you carnival was busy! A few days later she said we could stay with her friend, another CSer from Rio, as she was heading to her mum’s house. Our next CS host was hosting 8 CSers in total from all over the world. He had keys cut for all of us. During carnival he took us to all the local parties and street parties. Ones that we would have never know about without CS.
After carnival was finished we travelled to two other places in Brazil; Florianópolis and Porto Alegre, where we were hosted by amazing hosts. Brazil was the start of my love for Couchsurfing and seeing the ‘real’ country with locals. I was addicted!
During the rest of my travels I met many CSers who showed me local places, shared food with me, gave me advice etc. I then also surfed two couches in Paris later that year. When I then moved to Chile at the end of 2010 it was my time to finally pay back for all that my CS hosts had done for me; it was my turn to host. I was so excited! I kept this up while living in England. In total I have surfed ten couches and I have hosted nine groups of people too. Life got quite busy and so weekends became full up and hosting slowed down but i’m itching for CS again!
Have you ever Couchsurfed? If you’re in doubt I couldn’t recommend it enough!