Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Oh, the Joys of Couch Surfing!

I just hosted my first couch-surfer ever, and the experience was everything I’d hoped it would be! On Friday afternoon, Suzanne A. (31, of San Diego), messaged me through my couch-surfing account to see if I might have a couch available for her to crash on for Sunday & Monday nights. Suzanne was traveling through the North Carolina area (Charlotte and Raleigh) to see if either location would make for an ideal move for her. Her reasons for traveling and couch-surfing profile seemed legitimate, so I got in touch with her and said: “Sure! Come on by!”

To some, my self included at first, this type of connection may appear risky and dangerous, and it honestly has the potential to be both (as does getting on the highway). CouchSurfing.com is a website project put into place by a few folks who wanted to increase connections among young travelers in search of temporary refuge with locals. Presently, the network has grown to nearly 1,158,586 people around the world! I was shocked to find that 350 people are hosts in Raleigh - although that's a relatively small number compared to other cities. I became a host after my wonderful experiences as a surfer around Europe with my boyfriend Phillip (that particular journey will be documented in my next blog entry including pictures!*).

Suzanne and I spoke briefly to straighten out plans and exchange directions and next thing you know, she was here! We were so excited about sharing our city with our FIRST couch surfer! We connected instantly. On Sunday night, we met the neighbors for a cook out and shared our Raleigh perspectives with our visitor. Monday morning called for a quick trip to Krispy Kreme, a tour of the down town area followed by the colleges and universities, then a swoop through North Hills shopping area and finally, a walk around Lake Johnson. It wasn’t much on my part to drive my guest to all of these places. I was happy to show her around, especially if Raleigh becomes a comfortable destination for her in the future.

The whole concept is like paying it forward, in hopes that someone will treat you to the same hospitality in the future! Suzanne wrote a wonderful review & recommendation for me which will serve to inform future surfers. Couch surfing puts you in touch with people who are able to accommodate your visit in many different ways, plus you’re saving money, now who doesn’t like that?

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