Couch Surfing 101

Australia, Couch Surfing — By on October 15, 2010 8:45 AM

I had my first “couch surfing” experience last night in Darwin.

For those of you who may not know, Couch Surfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Couch surfing has been around since 1999 and has become the world’s largest hospitality exchange network with over 2.2 million members. Couch Surfing members share hospitality offering a unique form of cultural interaction. Hosts offer travelers a couch to sleep on and in exchange they have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world without leaving home. “Surfers,” or travelers, are able to save money while participating in the local life of the places they visit.

Ludovic and Stephanie were couch surfing at the home of a Canadian guy named Sean in Darwin. He explained that Sean would consider hosting us too during our stay, but he would meet Stacy and me first. The first thing I noticed as we followed Ludovic inside Sean’s very nice condo was a huge couch followed by a huge patio with a view. After determining that we seemed like normal enough girls he agreed to let us stay at his place both nights we would be in Darwin. His hospitality saved each of us the $50 we would have spent for a bunk bed in a hostel. Ludovic and his girlfriend Stephanie stayed in the guest bedroom and Stacy and I took the very large and comfy couch.

We decided to have a bbq which turned into a large gathering of fellow travelers that Ludovic had met on his road trip in addition to a few local friend’s of Sean. It was a fun evening with interesting people, great conversation, and delicious food.

Stacy manned the barbie and grilled up a meal representative of the various nationalities at the dinner table. One French couple contributed two large pieces of brie cheese. They instructed Stacy to heat the cheese on the griddle and serve as dessert with bread. I was impressed that they were able to find an alternative to Tasty Cheese which appears to have a monopoly on the Australian cheese industry. But then again, the French do love their cheese, as do I.  All countries represented unanimously agreed that Australia has the worst selection of cheese in the entire world. Your choices are Tasty, Tasty, or Tasty. For those reading who have never had Aussie “Tasty Cheese” – Tasty is the literal name – not and adjective describing flavor.

That night as I stretched out on the comfy couch with a full belly feeling the cool breeze offered by three hug ceiling fans above, I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t done this before now?

I realize the idea of couch surfing will stir up valid concerns for many (especially my mother) and although I have known about the idea for a while, even this “why not girl” was hesitant to try. After a great first surf and having read about other travelers experiences with the network I intend to couch surf in my future travels.

Like other social networking sites, to become a couch surfer or host you have to create an online profile. As members gain friends and meet people on the network, they write references for one another. On any given profile, you can see the references that person wrote for others right next to the references other people wrote for them.

Read  How it works to learn more about Couch Surfing.

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