Why Couch-Surfing Is The Coolest For A Solo Traveller
Shipra Arora is a 34-year-old scriptwriter, based in Mumbai. Travelling is her passion and she has just returned from a 3-month-long backpacking trip from the US after quitting her last job, only to share her experiences here! #HauteStories
I speak from personal experience. So trust me, when I say that there’s no better way to get imported to another country while sitting on your own couch, just by couch surfing! The idea itself is bewitching enough to blow my mind. It’s not just about sharing your space (which is a lot too!), but it’s also about sharing your life. Exposing your inner self to strangers. And it’s so easy; because you have nothing to do with them, you have no idea who they are, that gives you an opportunity to be whoever you are. Maybe the real you! The ‘You’ that you probably don’t even show to your closest friends.
I’ve hosted couch surfers for a while now and I’ve couch surfed myself during my 3-month long sojourn in the US. Here’s everything you need to know before you try it.
Lesson To Note
It’s not a set rule, but it’s my rule. Hosting really teaches you a lot about CS — what to do and what not to. Like my Spanish CS taught me not to eat chocolates from other people’s fridge. My German CS taught me that it would be a wonderful surprise for my host if I lay a breakfast. My Indian CS taught me how to make a mess in your host’s house *not pleased*. While my Vietnamese CS taught me how I can be spectacularly clean. Hosting teaches you almost all the dos and don’ts, until of course I embarked on my US trip.
Vietnamese, Italian, German, Swiss, Chinese, Croatians, Israeli — I hosted all these nationalities, and more, before I planned my trip to the US to experience my first surfing experience. Mind you, however, there’s a huge difference between hosting someone and surfing at someone’s place. While I hosted different nationalities in my small apartment in Mumbai, I always wondered, how come there were no Americans ever sending me requests on my CS site.
Truth is, Americans don’t travel much. Do you know only 46% of Americans have legal passports? So, aware of their idea on travelling, I started my journey to America, accepting the fact that I might not end up getting a couch everywhere I go. But then I’m a woman! And chances of us getting a place is much easier than a dude! *winks*
To begin my trip, I booked an Airbnb for my first two days in New York. I didn’t want to end up on a road all alone in a new city, and I wanted no hassle from immigration.
Oh, New York — Where everyone is busy, and no one has the time; where houses are the sizes of pigeon holes. The first guy who hosted me expected me to sleep with him on the same bed as that’s all he had. He was a creep, and I ran away! But then there was this wonderful guy who offered me a separate floor with a very comfortable room to stay in. While in New Orleans, my host expected me to clean his house; in Texas, two beautiful girls made me feel at home. And I ended up finding sisters from another mister!
The moral of the story is that you and me will always have different experiences; we are different people in different situations. But these are pointers that’ll always come to your rescue (in a good way!).
— It doesn’t matter how many references he or she has, read all of them carefully. Sometimes there is something hidden and we just miss it.
— Always share your host’s address and your surfer’s profile with someone close to you before you start your journey.
— Always have another option ready so you don’t end up on the road. If not another host, keep the address of the nearest hotel ready.
— While surfing, bring your host something small but special from your country; and while hosting, show them a part of your country.
— Be clean whether you are surfing or you are hosting.
— Lastly, respect, show gratitude, and learn!
If you ask how safe is CS? Hear it from the horse’s mouth — there’s a bigger chance of you dying in a road accident than being killed at a host’s house! (LOL) If you really wish to trust people, just host and surf!