Finding accommodation while traveling could be both difficult and expensive. You could save a lot of money on traveling by not spending much on accommodation. If you want to travel long-term, spending a lot of money or any money at all on accommodation shouldn’t even be an option. Couchsurfing is my favorite means of accommodation because Couchsurfing is free.
What is Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing is a website that connects over 10 million people in 200 thousand cities around the world. To find the website, simply google Couchsurfing. When you first look at the website, the first step would be to create a profile. You write your name, age, location, upload some pictures and boom– you are a officially a Couchsurfing member!
When using Couchsurfing, you can host people, surf, or do both. I’m not an expert on hosting people, so I will explain what it is like to be a surfer. If you are visiting a new town, city, or country, you type in the name of the place you are visiting and click find host. Numerous amounts of people looking to host you will pop up on your screen. When you find someone you think looks good enough to host you, you send them a request. When sending a request, you will write the day you will arrive, the day you will depart, and how many guests will be accompanying you. You also should write a short description explaining the reason for your stay. You can get a good sense of whether or not someone will accept or deny your request by looking through their profile. Their profile will usually tell you how much room they have in their home, how many people they’re looking to accommodate, and the type of sleeping apparatus they provide.
When looking for a host, you can learn more about the person by looking at their references. Most people on couchsurfing have excellent references. You can read through them to see if you think staying with this person would be a good match. The person hosting you also has the ability to give you a reference, so make sure to be on your best behavior!
When sending requests to prospect hosts, I would highly suggest sending numerous requests. I’m sure many people are eager to host you, but hosts may have other plans or may be hosting other people when you send a request. I would send 10-15 requests to pretty much guarantee someone agrees to let you stay. Don’t get discouraged when you get a copious amount of denials. All you need is for one person to say “yes” in the location you plan on visiting. Here is my couchsurfing profile: Matt Treglia’s Couchsurfing Profile
My Couchsurfing Experience
I knew about Couchsurfing years ago, but just recently began testing it out in May 2015. Marilyn, Marilyn’s parents, and my parents were a little skeptical about us sleeping at random people’s houses. I understood staying with strangers could be a little uncomfortable, but we had no choice because it was our cheapest option. Our first couchsurfing experience began in Montreal.
I lived in New York most of my life and never visited Canada. I convinced my girlfriend that we should take a trip up to Montreal, Canada. I figured Canada is pretty similar to the United States, but Montreal may be the most culturally unique. After creating a Couchsurfing profile, we sent out numerous requests to people who live in the area. After a plentiful amount of denials, we were finally invited to the home of a man named Sermad.
After driving for 6 hours, we arrived at Sermad’s apartment in Old Montreal. We anxiously waited for our first Couchsurfing host to greet us and it turned out that Sermad was a great guy. He was funny, smart, and provided an excellent source of information about Montreal. Sermad took Marilyn and I to Chinatown our first night. This is where I experienced the best Chinese food I have ever eaten. Sermad recommended numerous amounts of restaurants for us to sample throughout our stay. Little did Marilyn and I know, we would end up eating some of the best food in our lives. Some of the restaurants we ate at were Schwartz’s , Fairmount Bagel’s, and Lallouz Cafe & Kebaberie. Lallouz Cafe & Kebaberie was found on the event page on Couchsurfing. When you are using couchsurfing, there is an option labeled “events.” When you click that, a numerous amount of events comes up located in the area. Couchsurfers can meet up with other couchsurfers by attending these events. My girlfriend and I decided to attend our first event, which was hosted by Lallouz Cafe & Kebaberie. The event was to come to the restaurant, meet other couchsurfers, and enjoy a mystery dinner for only $10. When Marilyn and I arrived, we were unfortunately the only couchsurfers attending the event. Fortunately, though, we were blessed with an amazing steak dinner and homemade fries. Montreal was an amazing experience. Our host Sermad was an overall great person and good host. Here is Sermad’s Couchsurfing profile: Sermad’s Couchsurfing Profile
Montreal Photo Album: Montreal
A few weeks after Montreal, Marilyn and I had job interviews in Houston, Texas. We didn’t have a serious interest in this particular job, but the company was paying for our flights and two nights in a hotel. We thought we would take advantage of this opportunity and explore Houston longer than the two days. We decided to Couchsurf for six nights after we finished up with our interviews. We found a host named Roberto. Roberto is native of Mexico and is working as an engineer in Texas. When we arrived at his house, Marilyn and I chatted with Roberto for an hour or so before he decided he would take us out. We were excited to explore the Houston nightlife.
Roberto took us to an overcrowded bar in the heart of Houston. The crowd was lively because their hometown NBA team, the Rockets, were playing in the playoffs. The Rockets unfortunately lost and the life seemed to be drained from the crowd. About five minutes later, a man spoke on the microphone telling the crowd to gather around. This quickly changed the atmosphere of the bar. He spoke to the crowd and told us the turtle races would begin shortly. Yes, you heard, or read, correctly: turtle racing. There was an arena specifically designed for turtle’s to race to the edge of the battlefield.
Houston was filled with silly nights like these. During our stay, Roberto hosted another couchsurfer whose name was Nathan. Nathan was a really cool guy who was originally from the Bay Area in California. Nathan was driving cross-country to explore the wonders of the United States. His final destination was New Orleans, where he would begin a new chapter in his life. Nathan drove Marilyn and I around Houston for about eight hours. In a city where a car is a necessity to do almost anything, it was really enjoyable being able to explore Houston from a vehicle instead of on our feet. After about a week at Roberto’s, Marilyn and I headed back to New York. Here is Roberto’s and Nathan’s Couchsurfing profiles: Roberto’s Couchsurfing Profile Nathan’s Couchsuring Profile
San Jose/San Francisco
My friend’s Sean and Carly are currently traveling cross-country. I mentioned Couchsurfing to them before their journey and they had never heard of it. They researched the website and couldn’t agree more that it is a brilliant way to travel. I had the pleasure to be Carly and Sean’s first Couchsurfing host. Carly and Sean arrived late last Wednesday night. Sean and I traded stories about our travels and headed to bed because we decided to go to San Francisco the next morning. San Francisco was incredibly interesting. We went around and saw the usual San Francisco landmarks, like the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street. We finished the night off by attending a famous Tiki Bar, which we discovered on “The Layover” starring Anthony Boudain. A few drinks and appetizers later left us with a bill of over $150. We surely won’t be going back there anytime soon. Here is Carly’s Couchsurfing profile: Carly’s Couchsurfing Profile
Couchsurfing is a brilliant way to save money on accommodation. Once in a while we all get greedy and crave the nice, big, comfy bed in the 5 star hotel. Once in a while, it’s okay to give in, but for the most part, stick with Couchsurfing if you are on a traveling budget.