You’re not the average traveler. More concerned with hitting the “locals only” spots with a local guide than a continental breakfast and a pool area for the kids, you often ask yourself: “why do I travel like normal travelers?”. Why should I stay in a hotel with no personality and all this extra space that I don’t need? Both are good questions. Enter the world of Couchsurfing. Made for travelers like you, this accommodation site aims to set you up with a host who will open up their home and often serve as an authentic source of information for exploring the local area.
Here at AllTheRooms, we’re familiar with every type of accommodation and every type of accommodations site. Couchsurfing is one of the best for solo travelers looking to get a more a more hands-on experience than what they would find while staying in a hotel. You get the bed (or maybe a couch, hence the name) and some excellent local advice without the cost or wasted space of a hotel room. If that formula makes sense to you, then Couchsurfing may be the way to go.
The Couchsurfing Edge
So let’s say you’re from New York City with plans to do a little exploring in Hawaii. You’ve been before but you stayed at a resort, played golf and shared a beach with other resort-goers. Looking back, your more adventurous side wonders what’s out there beyond the grounds and perfectly manicured golf courses? What kind of life do the locals live?
So, a return trip beckons. You plan to see the things through the eyes of locals. You want to hike in the jungle, eat traditional Hawaiian food at the best places and catch sunsets on the beaches that you can’t read about on travel sites. You’re also a surfer and you’re looking for someone to lead you to the area’s best-hidden swells. You don’t need a resort and all the pampered treatment. You want a real travel experience.
Couchsurfing is perfect. Find a local host with connections in the area. Ask them about surf spots, food and all the other things filling your Hawaiian fantasies. The host may only have a small mattress on the floor in the living room, but they know the area like the back of their hand and more importantly, they’re willing to show you around.
The Other Side
Remember to be smart and informed about your Couchsurfing selection. It’s not all perfect and there are plenty of reasons why you’re paying less than you would for a hotel or a private Airbnb. Let’s cover a few of the downsides.
One of the main flaws is privacy. We have a feeling married couples are probably not going to go for the living room mattress. You’ll probably end up sharing a bathroom and you might not like being woken up by the neighbor’s dog barking at 6 am. A Couchsurfing stay requires a certain “roll with the punches” mentality that not everyone has
Another issue is it can be difficult to find hosts that have what you’re looking for. They might not be into the same things as you or they might be used to different types of travelers. There’s a certain personality and interests match that has to be achieved and it’s not always easy.
Also, it should be noted that in some parts of the world, it can be harder for men to find welcoming hosts. Conversely, women may be more concerned about staying with a single male host and may have to do more research to decide whether or not they’re comfortable. The bottom line is that there is a level of complication you don’t have to deal with in the world of hotels and more private accommodations.
Perfections and imperfections included, Couchsurfing at its best is a wonderful cultural exchange. Whether it’s in another country or another state, it’s a great way to see things up close. The Couchsurfing community is also well connected, so once you commit to a stay you’ll likely find a whole new form of social networking. Whether it’s Hawaii or Hong Kong, you’ll be amazed at who knows who and where. We like to think that founder Casey Fenton had the adventurer in mind when he introduced the world to Couchsurfing. That’s exactly who it’s made for.