Traveling With Kids | Couch Surfing
gerund or present participle couchsurfing
1. stay temporarily in a series of other people’s homes, typically making use of improvised sleeping arrangements.
Last summer, while visiting Canada, I ran into an old friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in ages. While catching up on each other’s lives, we shared our mutual love of traveling—it doesn’t take me very long to broach that subject.
That’s when my friend enthusiastically told me about his all-time favorite travel accommodation: Couch Surfing. He told me all about his couch-surfing experiences in NYC and Western Canada and how he has made some life-long friends with the “surfers” he hosted in his own home.
Couch-surfing is a free social website that started in 2004 that allows people to “travel like a local, stay in someone’s home and experience the world in a way money can’t buy.” The network boasts over six million members in 100,000 cities worldwide.
I had heard of couch-surfing before and even visited their website, but I always thought it was for the younger backpacking crowd. I didn’t think many hosts out there would willingly accept families—especially, one with three kids. But, after chatting with my friend and re-visiting the site I realized it can be very family-friendly. There is even a Family Welcome Group with almost 100,000 members.
Any of you traveling families out there will appreciate how much more affordable and accessible couch-surfing would make a family trip away. Apart from the financial benefits of couch-surfing, is the fact that you can immerse yourself with locals who can help you integrate in the culture and give you insider tips/information. That is absolutely invaluable.
Of course, one of the first concerns that comes to mind is safety. At least for me. Luckily, the site has a strong review system put into place. It lets you read about the experiences of past couch-surfers and their hosts. One bad review ruins a host’s reputation and they don’t last long on the site.
The site also recommends you have lots of contact beforehand with your potential host regarding your expectations, daily schedule and how much contact there will be between you.
Obviously couch-surfing isn’t for everybody (we still haven’t decided if it’s for us) but I love the fact that it is all about making connections while traveling and sharing your space, knowledge and time with fellow travelers.
Have any of you ever couch-surfed? Is it something you would be willing to try or offer to fellow travelers?