How does Couch Surfing work?
I want to point out that although the title of this blog is Living with Lyft, the real theme is living by software; it has been both Lyft as well as Couchsurfing that have made this journey possible. Lyft was the vehicle I utilized to actualize my dream of traveling the country, seeing friends, and creating brilliant experiences on a budget, but lets be honest - there are many ways of accomplishing this other than driving with Lyft.
The real hero to this story is Couchsurfing because not only has it saved me thousands of dollars in lodging expenses, but it has led me down a path of discovery of friends, places, and activities I never would have dreamt possible.
You are probably skeptical of the idea; I used to be (slightly). It just doesn't sound very safe to be sleeping on strangers "couches", maybe a bit awkward, and definitely not comfortable. My goal in writing this post is to completely and utterly debunk this ridiculous myth.
So how does Couchsurfing work?
For starters, Couchsurfing acts in the same way as a hotel, motel, or hostel does in that it gives you a place to stay for the night; the world is a different place at night and it is nice to have somewhere to sleep without the fear of waking up to being bludgeoned by a steel pipe (just ask my brother; or don't but pretend you did). In my opinion, that is the site's primary objective; but there is so much more to it than just a bed. Let's look at some reasons why:
1. You meet locals and make new friends - lots of them.
The people in the Couchsurfing community are some of the friendliest, most interesting, worldly, well-rounded, and considerate people you will ever meet. They will invite you to outings, make you dinner, talk about life, and introduce you to other locals. It is a blast. every. single. time.
2. Learn the insides information of the places you travel.
Since you meet so many locals, they will take you to or tell you of their favorite spots in their town and surrounding areas. This is probably the best way to actually see what the places you travel to have to offer and since I am actively seeking a place I may want to settle - I want to know the insider information of the towns to which I travel before I decide to move there.
3. Stay absolutely free of charge.
For budget travelers like myself, this is an absolutely astonishing perk. Couchsurfing is a free service to sign up, a free service to host, and a free service to surf. There is a remarkable amount of generosity in the community and all that is asked is that if you surf, you repay the community by hosting in return.
Everyone has a story, some wealth of knowledge, and a different perspective to impart on your life and way of thinking. Meeting new people is like a reality show of The Discovery Channel or meeting the speakers of TED talks firsthand.
Now, for those of you who have no idea how the service works, here is a brief summary with examples.
Sign in with Facebook, answer some questions about yourself, and add some photos to make yourself legit.
Search for the place you want to stay.
Select hosts you find interesting and read about them to see if you would like to meet them.
Request a host. If he or she accepts, confirm that you are staying with that person.
My favorite part and the part that really makes this system work and makes you feel secure. Leave a reference for future travelers to read before they request that person.