April 19, 2012


Couchsurfing has been around for ages, and almost everyone has done it to some extent.  Nowadays though, there are numerous forums to meet up with complete strangers and couchsurf or just meet up over some coffee and exchange stories.  Through these new websites it is more formalized, standardized, and has some safety features added.  We have used Couchsurfing.org a number of times and have had great experiences.

You start out by creating a profile about yourself, where you've been, where you want to go, and what you are looking to get out of couchsuring (CS).
Our Profile
If you want to surf and once you know when and where you are going, you can look up who is available to host you in that city.  Peruse their profiles and find a couple that you think you like.  Then you can send them a request, detailing info about yourself and travel dates, and why you chose to ask them to surf with.

If you are looking to host, you can look for posted itineraries of couchsurfers coming to your area and see if they want to stay with you, or you can just wait for a good request.

There are a number of things that you can do to enhance your chance of having a successful CS experience.  Many people choose to get verified by the CouchSurfing organization, which costs $25 and they simply verify your name and address.  Another option (which is free) is to have other folks on CS "vouch" for you.  In order to vouch for you, they need to have at least 3 vouches themselves from other CSers (this is to ensure someone can't just create 3 accounts and crossvouch themselves) and they had to have met you in person.  The last and most commonly used method is references left on your account profile from people you've either hosted or surfed with in the past.  Through these methods and the CS profile you can get a good sense for who the person is.

Of course, there are additional precautions you can take, like talking with the person over the phone  beforehand and meeting them in a public place prior to surfing/hosting.

With all that in mind, we've had nothing but positive experiences through this program.

Our first surfing experience was in San Diego, CA.  Since we had very little feedback (we had two vouches from friends of ours) on our profile, the host was hesitant to accept us, but after a quick phone conversation, he gladly allowed us to stay with him.  Once we arrived at his house, the initial formalities went very easy and we were instafriends.  That night he grilled us fish and vegetables in his back yard and invited friends over and we spent the night rockin' and rollin', eatin' and drinkin'.  The next morning we woke and hopped on his beach-cruiser bikes and rolled less than 3 blocks! down to the beach to eat famous San Diego fish tacos.  Overall the experience was great, easy-going and we had way more fun than if we'd stayed in a hotel.

Another great experience we had was when we were heading through Fredericksburg, TX.  We reached out to Brett, who owns the Peach Tree Inn just 3 blocks from downtown.  We thought we were coming through for just a night or two and he said it would be no problem to let us park our trailer on his property.

Making Ourselves Comfortable
We ended up staying 30+ nights (we liked Fredericksburg that much and we had a bit of car trouble), to which he happily accommodated us.  We had plenty of time to explore this cute town and swap travelling stories with Brett.  One of his cool stories was about his 4.5 month journey as a "thru-hiker" of the entire Appalachian Trail.

We made Brett and his family dinner as a thank you.

Pad See Ew 
Dinner With Brett and His Grandmother
We also got invited to a pool party that was next door to the Peach Tree Inn.

The Shindig
Having a Beer with a Fellow Couchsurfer
Maria, Brett, and I.
At Brett's we also met two other couchsurfers that were cycling across America. One of them was traveling city to city performing Shakespeare to promote his Speare Bearer website.

Cross-Country Cyclists
Our next CS experience was in Roswell, NM, and no we didn't stay with aliens...  The family we stayed with welcomed us into their home, where they offered us chicken and rice dinner, brownie cake and almond tea (a first for Maria and I).  We had conversations throughout the evening, ranging from solar panels, to real estate, to travelling, and ended the night with a couple of tequila shots!  When we left to head back to our trailer, we were handed a bag of goodies!  See Below.

Farm Fresh Eggs, Chicken and Rice and Brownie Cake.
In the morning, they brought us yummy homemade breakfast burritos!

Breakfast Burritos
So far we have had nothing but positive experiences with couchsurfing and we would recommend it. With a bit of due diligence, it is definitely worth it!


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