Couchsurfing: A Survival Guide


Judit has travelled the world on a budget making the most out of it: she has transformed having little money to spare into an advantage. For the past few years, she has seen and experienced countries in a more authentic way thanks to the countless hosts who have offered her their couches.


Can you tell us how you got to know about couchsurfing?
Judit. Well, long story short, in 2006 I was taking part in a European volunteering program in the Czech Republic, where I was teaching English in villages with a bunch of other students and sleeping on a mill. Among the other students, there was a French girl who told me she was going to visit the Balkans for very little money, and she said something about a sofa. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself but obviously I had no clue what she was talking about. The idea stayed at the back of my mind and once I had access to the Internet I googled it.

When was the first time you used couchsurfing?
J: A year later, I managed to convince my boyfriend, he was so terrified, he kept repeating “Judith, we will end up in a fridge!”.

You did survive, though, how was that first experience?
J: Yes, it was quite memorable actually, we were not killed or trapped in a fridge but I do remember that the host was leaving his place earlier than us so he gave us a set of keys and told us to leave them in the post box, I put them in the wrong box and I tried to get them out with my toothbrush…

And, what has been your best experience so far?
J: Last year in New Zealand, I was in a very remote area on my own and I was happy to see that there was a man offering to host me in the middle of a National Park, Queen Charlotte Great, he had so many references I went for it, without thinking too much about it. He picked me up on his boat in the closest village, then we fished on the way home what we would later eat.

He had been a very successful business man who was sick of civilization, he quit his job and started building his house from scratch. He was such an interesting person and had so many different topics to talk about…

Did you speak about the stock market?
J: Haha, didn’t get that far….

At this point our philantropist friend Ola interrupted our conversation.

Ola: …Oh you girls are talking about couchsurfing?  I remember being in Bolivia with a family who had lots of animals, they kept giving me loads of food and I got a bit suspicious, I began to think they were going to feed me to the dogs…

J: Actually, your hosts do not have to feed you, couchsurfing has changed so much since I first went for it. There are too many surfers and not enough hosts. You have to keep in mind that every host is different and it is not a free hotel.

As our couchsurfing guru, would you like to share some tips?
J: Just remember to check the host’s profile, do check his references and just trust your instincts, keep in mind that you should first meet them in a public place.

Photo credit: couchsurfingproject


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