Today we want to talk to you about a topic very dear to us: Couchsurfing.
It is a social network, a community of travelers that provides a night shelter for "cultural exchanges".
Couchsurfing is a way of traveling that offers, in addition to free accommodation, the opportunity to meet new people and gain new experiences.
We found out just before leaving for a long journey through Southeast Asia that took us from Nepal to the Philippines and since then we haven't been able to do without it.
We fell in love with this travel philosophy not so much for savings, which in any case is a fundamental point when undertaking long journeys, but for the wealth of experiences it has given us.
We met so many people, one more hospitable than the other and we immersed ourselves completely in their customs and traditions under their guidance!
In India we were guests of a wonderful family who made us live their daily life, starting from the morning puja, to the preparation of lunch with chilli for the 5 year old granddaughters. We have been guests (I would almost say of honor) at various weddings around the world (India, Uzbekistan, Indonesia).
Living like the locals is priceless for us.
Those who host are passionate about doing it, they make you live their reality 100%.
In each of our travels, we have always tried to carve out a small parenthesis of couchsurfing because there is no more direct way to fully get in touch with the locals, a source of great cultural enrichment for us.
We have experienced some of the most intense and unforgettable adventures of any trip; thanks to our couchsurfers friends we had the opportunity to savor, to enjoy experiences that we would never have been able to live without them: the locals! And so we found ourselves in Costa Rica with Carlos to see the villages of his childhood; in Guatemala to cook typical dishes with Sandra and her wonderful family; in Japan soaking in an onsen in the forest with Masahisa, in New Caledonia to toast the sunset on the highest hill in Noumea with Mathieu and Angele; in Quito, Ecuador, with Jimena's family getting lost in their local market and I could go on forever. What we love most is mixing cultures and ways of doing so far away from us and then at some point, you wake up one morning and you feel a little bit yours too. What I mean is that it is not enough to go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower to have experienced that place but you have to get into the heart of the place to assimilate it and understand it more and couchsurfing offers you this opportunity!
Then Nora was born (and most people told us that the trips would be over ... let alone go guests to strangers' houses ...).
And we immediately responded with a nice trip to Iran. Nora 14 months. We were guests of Meysam and his wonderful family from Tehran. People we still carry in our hearts today.
The great thing about Couchsurfing is that you can search in a very specific way. For example, for Iran, since we had a child, we looked for families with children.
The search can be done in two ways: by location, sifting through the individual cards of the people who offer hospitality, or by itinerary, entering the stages of your journey and waiting for others to contact us.
Pay attention to the type of accommodation that is offered, because everyone can offer what they have or want: a place on the sofa, the guest room, the annex or a space in the garden on which to pitch a tent! We rehearsed from a garage in Bikaner, India to our entire apartment in Matsumoto, Japan. It is also advisable to pay attention to the exact location of the house, with respect to the place you are going to visit, so that it is not too far away or in a dangerous area.
A further selection must be made based on reviews / references. If they have several good references, they are likely to be good people. Also check how “active” they are in the community. Couchsurfing shows the dates of the last accesses, so it allows you to discard users who have "abandoned" their profile.
Once this is done, write a personal request to the host, where you introduce yourself and then provide some reasons why it might be a good idea for them to host you. To be clear, if the person you would like to be hosted by is a lover of Italian food and you do well in the kitchen, you could offer to cook a dinner (as we almost always have).
In addition to cooking an Italian dish, we are used to bringing a small gift from our country, a tribute to our hosts and usually we bring one of our travel bloggers gadgets: a magnet!
It is wonderful to see our little magnet Born2travel.it attached to the fridge of the kitchens scattered around the world! For their creation we have relied on Sticker Mule one of the leaders in the marketing sector with whom we have collaborated and whom we recommend!
Starting from May 2020, Couchsurfing becomes paid for almost everyone.
Due to Covid-19, both national and international travel are limited, this entails the inactivity of the platform.
For this reason, the administrators asked all registered users for a small support contribution. (On the website you will find all the info.)
But how much does it cost to join Couchsurfing? The donation to support Couchsurfing can be monthly or yearly. The monthly fee is € 2.39; the annual instead of € 14.29. It can be done by credit card or Paypal, and once the transaction is completed, it will be possible to continue using the site.
Fortunately, for underdeveloped countries Couchsurfing will remain free.
Because of the wonderful philosophy behind this whole world of hospitality, we are proud to contribute to the annual donation!
Life experiences are priceless… encounters during a journey are what we are most looking for.
The union of different souls can change the world and we will always believe in this!
If you like, on couchsurfing you can find us here: Mark & Stefy