When I have travelled overseas, I have used Couch Surfing quite extensively, but I have never slept on any couches. You see there is more to Couch Surfing than just finding a free place to sleep for the night.
There are two aspects to Couch Surfing that I found to be very helpful when travelling in new countries and cities. The first was the regular events that seemed to be held by locals in so many different towns. The second was the groups that allowed me to connect with locals and travellers alike.
Through three of my major overseas trips, I have made use of Couch Surfing to meet locals and tourists at local events. Especially in America, I found almost every city I visited had at least one weekly event or gathering.
The first Couch Surfing event that I attended was in San Francisco. Around a week into my second overseas trip, and after staying with a friend in Seattle, I found myself exploring San Francisco alone. I decided to see if I could find anyone with whom to explore the city.
There was some good timing as I arrived in San Francisco on a Tuesday and at the time there were two weekly events. One just so happened to be Tuesday evening and the other Thursday night. What better way to meet some locals and maybe find someone to explore with.
I must say the first event was pretty small but none the less I met a couple of people. Over the next couple of days, I met one for coffee, and another to walk the streets of San Francisco. All in all, it was a pretty positive and successful experience.
Since the first event, I have attended events in Las Vegas, San Diego, Dallas, and some other cities. Due to the way I have planned my travel I have also just missed a lot of events, but that is where the next bit comes in.
Couch Surfing Groups
Another aspect of the Couch Surfing website is the discussion groups. They are somewhat like any online forum or discussion board. Anyone can join a group and start a conversation.
It by posting to a group that I first met someone via the Couch Surfing Website. It was on the very first day of my second overseas trip. I had organised to stay with a friend in Seattle, but the timing was not perfect, and I had a day and night in the city before meeting my friend. Thinking of how to fill in the time I posted a message to the Seattle group on Couch Surfing.
At the time, it almost became a missed connection, due to issues with internet access on my part. But in the end, it all worked out well, and I met a local for coffee and spent a couple of hours chatting and walking a little of Seattle.
Since the first meeting, I have met so many people in many different cities. On the first night I arrived in Las Vegas for my third overseas trip, I met with one person through the group. Before the evening was out this one person had turned into a group of 12 Couch Surfers exploring the Las Vegas Strip.
Likewise, I have met people in more cities than I can remember. Sometimes just for coffee and other times spending the day exploring.
Getting Started With Couch Surfing
Getting started with Couch Surfing is rather easy, you can visit their website www.couchsurfing.com. If you are not already a member go through the process to sign up. Just by signing up does not mean you are going to get people showing up wanting to stay on your couch. Of course, this is an option if you like, but you can set your host status to, “Not accepting guests” or “Wants to meet up”.
Once you are signed up there are two options towards the top right of the page. The first is events and the second is groups. You can use these two areas to find events or groups that are near to you and might be of interest.
Everyone Is Different
While Couch Surfing has its place as a way to meet people and find a couch to crash on for the night. Many people use Couch Surfing in many different ways. If you are travelling and looking to meet locals or even other travellers it may be a great option. So why not take a look and see what is on offer.