CouchSurfing – a different kind of travel experience
by Emma Jackson
I love travelling abroad, but two years ago I didn’t have much cash to spend on my holiday. At first, I was planning to go camping again, but then a friend suggested an alternative: CouchSurfing. I had no idea what that was, so she explained. ‘CouchSurfers’ are people who stay as guests in other people’s homes for free, and visit the sights in the local area. You can do the things that most tourists do, like sunbathing on the beach or sightseeing in the town centre. Or your host could give you a language lesson, teach you how to cook local delicacies, or take you to places that visitors never find. It sounded much more fun than my other holidays, so I joined the website and sent emails to about twenty hosts in France and Spain right away.
A few days later, I already had ten replies. After a week or two of emails, I made arrangements with four hosts in three different cities. I’m quite talkative and they seemed very friendly, so I wasn’t concerned about spending time with strangers. Two weeks later, I was arriving in Paris, and meeting my first host, Claudette.
Over the next ten days, I stayed in four very different homes, improved my foreign languages, and made some great new friends. Sometimes the places where I stayed were basic – a sofa to sleep on, or even just a floor, but sometimes they were luxurious – much nicer than the hostels that I usually go to. I think it was probably the cheapest and most interesting holiday I’ve ever had!
I’ve done CouchSurfing again twice since then: in Italy, and here in the UK. I’ll definitely do it again. In fact, I’m going on a trip to South America next year. And I’ve had five visitors at my place, including Claudette. I’ve discovered that hosting is as much fun as exploring a new place. CouchSurfing is a fantastic experience. Try it some time!