The newest style of accommodation for young ex-pats travelling the world; Couch Surfing is so ‘free’ is seems suspicious. And is it? Well maybe. Its almost the 21st-century form of hitchhiking, but in this case you enter their house and STAY there.
I discovered Couch Surfing when I moved to Berlin. One of my friends recommended it and I told her I would never be interested in such a thing because it was so random and unsafe.
Six months later, I am using this incredible service every month on my European adventures.
So there is the obvious. It is completely free. You can catch a cheap fifty euro flight on Easyjet and stay in free accommodation and the only costs you accrue are food, drink and entertainment. It is worth taking out travel insurance from a reputable provider like Asda Travel Insurance before you begin any kind of trip really. Somehow, travelling across the globe- into a new currency and a new language can be afforded for under two hundred euro. All of a sudden, a weekend trip to bathe in Spain’s hot sun, is foreseeable.
The way that Couch Surfing works diplomatically is that it is usually, well in most cases a trustful ‘swap’. The person takes you in, in his/ her country and at some point if they are travelling to yours, you should so kindly take them in. If you don’t have a couch available you are almost certainly not going to be as successful finding accommodation.
Another way that it works in this ‘trust’ business, is that, after the experience, you write positive or negative criticism on their wall- and they do the same for you. This way, you show their potential ‘surfers’ or ‘hosts’ what type of person they are and how they treated you. There is also a service which allows you to ‘report’ the host. This brings me to my next point.
What do you do when you have arrived at this host’s place and he/ she makes you feel unsafe? There is really not much that you can do. This is the glitch in the system. When it comes down to it- YOU are taking the risk.
I usually couch surf with a friend which does make you feel safer- knowing that two are stronger than one. Just recently though, I couch surfed in Barcelona alone. I also basically made sure I had plenty of credit, the local emergency telephone number typed in my phone and a friend who knew where I was.