Two weeks on the road is exhausting. It’s also expensive. So I came up with a brilliant idea. “Let’s stay on strangers’ couches in unfamiliar cities!”
Now to his credit, Steve was game. He actually has a friend back home who hosts couchsurfers from all over the world. Everyone else thought I was bat shit crazy. Especially Mom, who was apparently convinced my hosts were probably vicious serial killers.
In reality, couchsurfing is pretty awesome. It gives you the opportunity to sleep for free and make new friends. New friends who know the local hot spots and can point you towards the best pizza in town. Because let’s be honest, it’s all about the food.
I couchsurfed in three cities: Chicago, Denver, and Colorado Springs. We had totally different experiences with each surf, all of them good.
In Chicago, our hosts were a twentysomething couple living downtown. Amazing views! They invited their friends over and we had a barbeque — complete with burgers, guacamole, and beer. We slept on an air mattress in their living room. In the morning, they made us coffee and pointed us to the local attractions — including the Bean, Navy Pier, and Michigan Avenue. Before we left, they also pointed us to their favorite pizza place, Pequod’s. AMAZING.
In Denver, we didn’t see too much of our host. We went out to dinner with Carrie the night we stayed with him. Sleeping arrangements included our own bedroom and bathroom. The next morning, he made us coffee and told us about his past travels and his current travel aspirations in South America. Very cool guy.
In Colorado Springs, our host actually lived full-time at his girlfriend’s place so we had his entire house for 2 nights. He was available by text any time we needed food recommendations, but other than that we did our own thing. It was nice after so much traveling to have a house we felt comfortable just relaxing in.
If you are interested in couchsurfing, I highly recommend it. We saved some cash, met some cool people, and were given local guidance on the best restaurants and activities. Check out Couchsurfing.org to create a profile and begin surfing and/or hosting. If for any reason you feel uncomfortable or unsafe during a surf, you should obviously leave. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way to be polite.
By the way, I’m not affiliated with Couchsurfing. Just dig the program!
Have you ever couchsurfed? Does the stranger factor creep you out?
[Images from Buzzfeed]