For those budget minded travelers that would rather not sleep in lockers, there are other options. You may find an assortment of budget hotels, hostels, private apartments, or, you could also try CouchSurfing.
The term “couch surfing”, by definition, is essentially staying on a friend’s or acquaintance couch, at their apartment, or home while traveling. For those on a small budget, or even not so small budget, the pros are that couch surfing is free and you can make new friends.
The organization, CouchSurfing, was started as a way to facilitate the sharing of culture and the creating of friendships. The site, Create & Share, put the mission and purpose of Couchsurfing very nicely:
CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using this system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding.
The goal of this initiative is to create inspiring experiences: cross-cultural encounters that are fun, engaging, and illuminating. These experiences take many forms. CouchSurfing’s initial focus was on hosting and “surfing” (staying with a local as a guest in their home). Alongside these core experiences, it now also facilitates a growing array of activities and events.
The CouchSurfing website is somewhat like a Facebook page. Each member has a profile, description of themselves, photos, and description of their “couch.” An individual can put their status as traveling, couch available, meet for coffee or tea, or no couch available. Locations can be verified for safety, and members that choose to be verified have a higher probability of finding couches to surf.
The website is somewhat archaic and hard to navigate at times. It’s difficult to find people who you actually know, and searching for couches is time-consuming and slow. Still, the concept is fantastic, and the people who couch surf are, from my experiences, genuine, interesting, and extremely hospitable.
Before going to Croatia in September, I connected with a girl through CouchSurfing. She offered her “Couch” and also emailed a detailed itinerary of what my flight attendant friend Emily and I could do while in Croatia. Emily ended up not staying with her, but we did meet up at a cafe in Zagreb. We had a great time chatting and getting to know each other. She was laid back, interesting, and funny. Meeting her was a highlight of the entire month I spent in Europe. We learned a side of Croatia that we would not have experienced had we not met through Couchsurfing.
Watch this video that’s from the CouchSurfing Website.
Become a CouchSurfer, click here!