Couchsurfing is a great way to save on holiday.
Have you always dreamed to see the most beautiful and amazing places of our planet, but you always pushed off a whole mountain of difficulties, which often arises on time trips? You are not afraid of difficulties, but the financial side of the issue did not always allow you to fulfill your cherished dreams about the most beautiful and interesting tourist zones in the world?
Traveling is now much easier and cheaper, especially if you do it with couchsurfing! If you translate the name literally, you will get something like "sofa surfing," although close, but not entirely understandable for a Russian person. Let's figure it out!
After adaptation, in Russian it means approximately the following: "I'm looking for a free sofa!" Or "Traveling on the couch", although definitions are free, but much more closely describe what is hidden behind this new, completely unknown phrase. What it is?
CouchSurfing is such an Internet portal, similar to all sorts of popular social networks like Facebook or Vkontakte, the main goal of which is to unite all free travelers of the world into one strong and friendly community.
The idea is that members of this community can visit each other, while overnight accommodation is provided free of charge. Couchsurfing is not just a way to search for a free overnight stay, it is also an opportunity to exchange cultural values, to learn something new, to find new friends all over the world, as well as good language practice!
How to become a couch surfer?
There is nothing complicated in this, it is enough to register on the site of the same name, then create your personal profile. Before the user opens the whole questionnaire, which will have to fill in English (as it is the most common in the world), regardless of what country you are planning a trip.
The service was founded in the distant 2004 and since then has united in itself more than 7 million real users! Now the vast majority of members of the community are residents of America, Germany, France and other European countries, but, not least, recently, our compatriots have begun to actively pursue them.
Registration on the site is absolutely free, for everyone there is an opportunity to make a symbolic donation to the couchsurfing fund.
It should be noted that the personal data that the site requests from you is better to enter real, the more information you provide for other couchsurfers, the higher the level of confidence in your questionnaire, and the chances of being invited to visit increase.
The site will need to be sure to place information about the languages that you own, as well as tell about the experience of travel and the goals that you pursue, overcoming thousands of kilometers. You must also specify your own living conditions, preferably with detailed photos, as well as clarify who you would like to host.
Sometimes members of such a community do not have the opportunity to host someone, in this case, he can offer his company for meetings and walks: who, like not the local residents themselves, will be able to best show the local sights, the best places and streets, and , unknown to the masses, fascinating routes.
Sometimes such walks can be much more interesting and memorized much brighter than official tourist “trails”, advertised with glossy booklets.
How to travel with the help of couchsurfing?
On the CouchSurfing website immediately after registration, you can proceed to search for places where you would like to go. Especially for this, there is the “Start a Journey” tab in which you must specify all the search criteria you are interested in to get a list of people who are potential “hosts” (that is, those who are ready to receive you as guests).
After reviewing the list of possible options, you can write a detailed letter to the community member who most caught your attention and, by luck, is a local resident of the city that you would like to visit.
The letter should be competent and detailed: tell us why you are going on a journey, what plans you have for it, and why this city has interested you most.
Be sure to pay attention to your common interests, because it is much more pleasant to communicate with those people in whom they coincide.
Of course, you can use the services of couchsurfing and stay in different countries with travelers like you, not only alone, but also with friends, this is much more fun and, of course, safer.
Naturally, this point needs to be discussed in his request for a "match" from another couchsurfer.
A few tips for the novice traveler
- When searching for people from whom you would like to stop, you should not send inquiries to everyone, inserting text copied like a carbon copy into messages. It is better to choose only a few people, having carefully studied their profile, hobbies and interests, to start writing a detailed letter. It is important to show that you are really interested in staying with these people, tell us a little about yourself and show you what a versatile, interesting and cheerful conversationalist you are with whom it will be interesting to spend time.
- On the possibility of living, agree in advance, preferably in 3-4 weeks. If it turned out that you were in a foreign country without lodging and money, then for this purpose there is a function on the site “last-time request” or “last-minute request”, where the “list” can be found very quickly without prior agreement.
- Do not rush to the most popular and rating profiles, usually these community members have housing for several months ahead and the likelihood that their answer will be positive is rather low.You can always stay on less popular options.
- According to the rules of the system, you can stay with the receiving party for no more than 5 days. But, if you make friends, then perhaps the owner will shelter you for a longer period.
What about security?
It is absolutely normal that many travelers are afraid to stay overnight with completely strangers in an unfamiliar country, because the cases are different. That is why the site is exactly safety is given a lot of attention.
First, there are levels of trust. They increase depending on the donations that a community member is willing to contribute to the couchsurfing fund: transferring funds from a bank account or card, there is a verification of your personal data.
The important role is played by feedback from other participants, which each couchsurfer can leave on the page of another participant after a personal acquaintance with him. Even one negative review can greatly affect the reputation of the participant, therefore, in the interests of couchsurfers, behave as cordially as possible.
The advantages of such travel:
- The opportunity to learn the country “from the inside”, imbued with cultural traditions and foundations, communicating directly “inside” the local society.
- Financial savings.
- Excellent practice of foreign languages.
- Intercultural exchange.
- Mutual assistance: members of such a community are always happy to help each other, give advice and help get started without getting into unpleasant situations in a foreign country.
- The need to adjust to certain dates.
- The need to harmonize the home mode: the owners can get up early and go to bed when they go to work or their business, you may have to walk for a long time on the street.
- Accommodation is not always comfortable: a separate room with a bed and a private shower is a couchsurfest dream.
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