I got my Couchsurfing verification postcard today and it made me think- I must do a post about Couchsurfing as it is one of the best things I have gotten in to, despite my initial fear, and has lead to me meeting some great people as well as enhancing my travel experience.
My first taste of Couchsurfing was through a friend who was hosting a few people and I went to an outdoor film festival with them. We got to know each other, swapped travel stories and I spoke to them about my future travel plans. My favourite part of the experience was meeting people who were enthused about travel as I was. I think it's experiences like these which inspire you to pursue your interest in travel and with you ultimately catching the travel bug, which then stays with you forever.
I already had a profile but had not really used it before. So I started to build it up, filling in all the sections, putting up a few photos and asking my friends to write references for me to, show I am a trustworthy sort of person. These steps came in handy when I would then go on to couchsurf myself during my time in the US.
I have to say I was nervous about going to stay with strangers at first but from their profiles they had a lot of positive references and seemed to have host many people before. I took the added procaution of telling my sister the address I'd be staying at and set off, vegan cookies in hand, for my first night of Couchsurfing.
I stayed in a very lovely shared house, sort of like a housing co-operative really, near Cambridge in Boston. They were very hospitable, chatting to me in the evening, offering suggestions of places to go the next day and even letting me share a meal with them. My next experience of Couchsurfing in Philadelphia was equally as good. My host invited me out for her birthday dinner and took me for a beautiful walk to the art gallery.
Couchsurfing has not only been great for the actual surfing bits, but also for meet ups. I went to a couple of Couchsurfing meetings at the pub during my time living in Melbourne. They were great chilled out evenings, where everyone was friendly and wherever you sat down you became part of a conversation. It something I will use again in the future, as I'll be moving to a new city in September and it is fantastic way to meet like minded people.