Why you should try couch surfing

Do you ever feel that hotels are sometimes unnecessary or expensive? Whenever I’m traveling for personal endeavors, they are often too much for me.
I like to explore new places, new scenery and push myself outside of my comfort zone. In 2015, I took a solo trip to Europe through G Adventures. That trip opened my eyes to a new hunger for  freedom, taking chance and embracing spontaneity. The group leader for that trip had many suggestions on ways to save money and create more serendipitous experiences. One of her suggestions was being a couch surfer.

A street in Rome from 2015.

What is a coach surfer? Someone who is going from couch to couch when traveling. It’s the title for someone who uses the app and website www.coachsurfing.com! I finally jumped the gun and used it for the first time with my sister on our recent road trip to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
+ Free housing!
The two places we stayed, neither host charged us for our stay. We connected on the app, messaged details back and forth of arrival, departure and needs and met them when we arrived. Sometimes, the host will request you assist with chores, cleaning or cooking. I think that is pretty reasonable for a night to stay free of charge.
+ Local recommendations!
I’ve stayed at numerous hotels where you approach the concierge or front desk clerk to ask for good dining or local activity suggestions and receive mediocre responses. When you connect with someone on coach surfer, they are usually knowledgeable of the area and giving a first-hand account of what you are looking for or would enjoy.
+ New friends & expanded network!
I now have people I know in NJ and PA that are more than just a circular photo on a virtual profile. After your stay, you review and recommend the experience you had with your host and vise versa.

When you are willing to try something new and take recommendations, you can see things that would otherwise remain unseen.

– Selecting reliable hosts!
My sister and I had a positive experience with hosts. I would advise looking at the reviews and recommendations of hosts nonetheless. You can become verified by providing a credit card and paying a nominal annual fee (don’t forget, free housing versus $100+/night in a hotel) and add safety to your experience in finding reliable hosts.
– Unclear sleeping conditions!
The host may not tell you if you will be getting a bed, air mattress or couch. If you have particular needs, I suggest asking or preparing before you leave. I always bring extra pillows and blankets when I travel, as you never know what you might need.
– Concerns from loved ones!
If you’re like me, you have caring family and friends. They sometimes care more than you want and get worried about your vagabond activities. I have found it helpful to talk about the positive experiences, new friends and genuinely good people in the world. Then, just go for it and keep them posted on your progress! 🙂

New friends from Coachsurfing have great local food recommendations too. This egg white omelette was awesome to say the least.

Have you tried couch surfing? How was your experience? What advise would you share for others who have not couch surfed before?
Here’s to more adventures and moxie in 2017!