Planning a Vacation? Try Couchsurfing
For college students, travelling abroad during summer vacations is an almost necessary experience. It’s one of the few times in your life that you can spend your summer free from responsibility, and are able to go to far-away places for months at a time. But, the paradox is that college students are also not famous for having an abundance of money. So how do you manage to take the trip of your dreams without breaking the bank?
One of the best ways for students to see the world is by using Couchsurfing.org, a website where people in countries all over the world offer to host students, often for free, at their own homes. It’s a novel and social approach to travel that not only takes away the burden of having to pay for lodging, but also gives you an opportunity to meet scores of new people who want to show you their home, whether it’s an apartment in London or a yurt in Mongolia.
It works by simply creating an account on the site that describes who you are, your lifestyle, and what you’re looking to do while travelling. You can then browse hosts in your destination area and read reviews of different hosts to find exactly the right match for you.
While it may sound slightly unsafe at first, the people at Couchsurfing.org have provided materials to ensure that your trip is both fun and free from danger. And those who have given couchsurfing a shot tend to have more good things to say about the experience than bad.
“I didn’t really have much expectations going in, I had no preconception of what it was,” said Michelle Tobin of Seattle, who used Couchsurfing on a trip to Vancouver, BC. “It was actually the greatest experience ever. There were 20 people staying at this place, all from foreign countries. They were all about our age, and we went out to the bars together. We got to see Vancouver from their perspective.”
The ability to engage with other travelers and seeing a new city through the eyes of someone who truly knows the city is just one of the benefits of couchsurfing. Couchsurfing.org also gives you a display of any events held by other couchsurfer hosts as well, giving you a unique insight that your average tour won’t provide.
According to those who have hosted couchsurfers, the experience is just as rewarding as it allows you to speak to people of different cultural backgrounds that you may never have had the chance to meet otherwise, and make life-long friendships in the process.
“I’ve had really great experiences hosting people,” said Lindsey Tibke, a coachsurfer host. “I’m still in contact with some of them years later.”
So if you’re wanting to see someplace new this summer, couchsurfing is one of the easiest ways to do so without having to pay an arm and a leg. All it takes is the will to engage with someone new.
“I would definitely recommend it,” said Tobin. “It takes some energy, planning, and effort, as well as an emotional willingness to stay at someone else’s house and interact with someone you don’t know, but it was definitely worth it.”