As I was doing my travel research, I kept noticing several references to the website  On the surface, it seems like a site where you can find a free place to stay when you travel.  A deeper dive makes one realize just how amazing this community is.  Simply put, Couchsurfing is a hospitality exchange where hosts provide a couch, room or bed for travelers to stay for free.  In exchange, the guest or surfer shares their travel experiences and stories.  In the end, we end up understanding more about each other and how we’re really more similar than what we might think.

So isn’t this dangerous?  It could be, but the site has numerous methods for verifying and social proofing yourself.  You can check out the site yourself for more details as to how this works.  I’d rather talk about an aspect of the site that I didn’t expect to find, but have been pleasantly surprised about.  It’s probably one of its best features.  The site gives you the ability to connect with others in your local CS community.  These are all the kind people who actually live in your city full-time.  Of course, it’s implied they exist for them to host, but CS allows community members to setup local events and activities for other CS’ers to attend… locals and travelers.  A veteran surfer pointed out to me this is needed to help you get friends and references so surfers will actually stay with you.  This has been a truly awesome experience of being a part of CS.  I’ve made a lot of new friends in the Columbus community, hopefully lifelong friends.  I started by going to a few events, and then eventually started hosting some of my own.  The experience has opened up a new chapter in my life.  I’m finally moving away from being completely work-obsessed to someone who is much more well balanced.  Life should be about experiences and forming good relationships with the people around you.  Of course, you need to work to make money, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of sacrificing other aspects of life that can be equally, if not more, fulfilling.  All right, I’m starting to get preachy and I hate that, so I’ll end this topic for now.  In my next entry, I’ll go into some details about my experiences of hosting surfers thus far.  Yes, I have actually invited complete strangers in my house to stay the night.  It can be an incredible experience if you open yourself up to it.

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