This term has been rattling around in my head for some years now and it was only until recently in Vietnam whilst waiting for our bus to Hoi An that I decided to go into depth and actually research it online and see what it was all about. I think my main reason for researching into this modern lifestyle obsession was that it can save you some serious wedge compared to using hostels and you can meet some great like-minded individuals who can also act as local tour guides! Here is what I found out about couch surfing…
So what exactly is ‘CouchSurfing’?
The words which Couchsurfing themselves use is “Our mission is simple: Create inspiring experiences”
- Over 5 million members
- In 97000 cities
- In every country across the globe
Couchsurfing connects locals with travellers via the internet to meet in an offline face to face approach allowing cultures, stories, ideas and experiences to collide. This doesn’t just happen in the homes either, there are countless stories of how people have come together in one place and spent months and months together on the open road sharing interests and countless memories maximising their life ambitions and experiences. Fair play.
The idea of Couch-Surfing was derived in 1999 by somebody called Casey Fenton. It was through his experience at college where he studied computer science which led him into his new role as an internet and technology consultant, a job role which largely involved helping clients establish client databases online. Fenton subsequently sold one technology company in 2001 after starting many technology companies beforehand. It would be 2005 before Fenton began working full-time on Couchsurfing after having worked as the director of Internet Strategy for Alaska Governor Tony Knowles. The strategic skills acquired from working for Knowles was projected into the Couchsurfing website at the cost of tens of thousands of hours from the years 2003-2009. It is fair to say that among the board of directors for the Couchsurfing website, Fenton was the dream child and continues to contribute successfully to all areas of the now massive website.
Couchsurfing was an idea to link people with similar interests together in various locations around the world. There are hundreds of thousands of people around the globe looking to meet friendly like-minded people and show them what their town, city or even country has to offer, so this linked with the fact that there are tens of thousands of travellers and backpackers wanting a great host and a bed or couch to stay on begged the question ‘Why don’t we combine these two factors?’…Ladies and gentlemen, this was the birth of the ‘Couch-Surfing’ and the endless possibilities which come with it.
The website surprisingly named www.couchsurfing.org is the premier spot to fix yourself up with a legendary host and of course a couch to crash on. On this site you will find hosts from … countries all willing to offer up their beds and couches or even floors in exchange for decent banter and new friendships. Personally I take my hat off to …. And thank him for his ingenious idea of bringing people together who would otherwise never meet and just be passing strangers in the street!
How do you get into Couchsurfing?
This is extremely simple guys and girls; you simply register to couchsurfing by writing down all your credentials whether they be unusual or phenomenal. There really is someone for everybody on this site. I think that even if you were an ‘anti-pollution’ activist with a bladder problem you could hitch up with an entrepreneur in the oil business. Although I previously mentioned that you can shack up with like-minded people I feel it important to mention that whilst I subscribed to the site I read testimonials of completely different people colliding and having an absolute ball! So be open-minded and go for gold!
If you are a backpacker or long term traveller then you really must give this a shot to gain new friends and say you have been part of the couchsurfing revolution. It would be a shame not to take part in something which is both free and socially liberating so to get your slice of the action have a scout through the couch surfing website and see who you can meet for the next city you arrive in. It’s simple, easy and something which everybody on the move should have a go at.