Hello there Bliss Seekers, I thought we would talk travel today. Have you ever heard about couch surfing? Couch surfed yourself or hosted a couch surfer? It is a fabulous idea that enables the couch surfer to enjoy their destination as a local with locals. The basic concept of it being a completely financial free exchange of hospitality by connecting members to a global community of 6 million members in more then 100,000 cities world wide. Once signed in, you complete a profile and list your details. You may be a host who lists the type of accommodation you have on offer and for how long its available; a traveller who would like to stay with a host or; as a local point of contact who doesn't have the facility to host guests but is willing to be local tour guide of sorts.
My lovely sister Ms K and her partner Mr J have been members since 2008, as both couch surfers and hosts. I have seen the positive experiences they have gained by it and met some of their lovely guests. Although I haven't used the service myself, I have had lots of chats with Ms K about it. Her over all opinion is that it has given her some amazing experiences. She has made solid friendships with a large majority of her guests and is still in contact with most of them. Ms K and her partner also live a very coastal lifestyle and have listed this in their profile. One couple that stayed with them from Holland wanted to experience such a lifestyle. It was negotiated between them before the couple stayed, that Mr J would teach them how to surf during their stay.
Mr J originally met one of his now best friends couch surfing in France. They paired up and travelled the rest of their way through Europe together for three months, using only couch surfing members for accommodation. Another fabulous experience was when Ms K was travelling through Scotland. Missing home, she logged into the couch surfing website to see if there was any other Aussie couch surfers near by. There was, so she spent the day with an Aussie girl, and had a wonderful shared experience that re-energised her with a bit of much needed Aussie spirit for the rest of her European holiday.
Ms K's Top Tips for a successful Couch Surfing Experience
*Only accept verified guests; these are the people with a solid history of excellent feedback and reviews
*Be honest with your profile; this will allow you to have a genuine authentic experience
*Be honest when writing your reviews; this will uphold the integrity of the service and allow future guests and hosts a true foundation to make their decisions on
*Find someone like-minded with similar interests; this encourages an automatic connection
*If your a guest, live up to the couch surfing culture by cleaning up after yourself and contribute in the home where possible; your accommodation is free so pay your guest back with helpful deeds i.e. cook a meal for your hosts
*Trust your instincts; if you don't feel right then it probably isn't the right match. Find alternative accommodation.
It must be said here that Ms K and Mr J have had many couch surfing experiences of which only one wasn't quite right. They decided not to stay with the host and parted on good terms.
So there you have it, Couch surfing in a nut shell. Seems like a fabulous opportunity for some amazing experiences to me. As someone wanting to encounter a truly local experience when they travel, I can see how great this service would be. It would also be an excellent way to build local connections at your desired location for travel. I love that it can connect members with other Couch Surfers while they're abroad, like Ms K experienced in Scotland. I've thought about becoming a member myself but feel that being a host doesn't isn't right for my family situation at the moment. I would however, be very interested in becoming a local connection. What do you think about it? Would you become a member?
Sending you much bliss, Heather xx
P.S. This is not a sponsored post
To go to the Couch Surfing website for more information here
All images by Heather W.