I’ve been asked to write a little about my experiences from couchsurfing so I decided to start where my couchsurfing story starts – in my homeland Israel.
As my friend Itamar Beck wrote, I too believe that couchsurfing is the best way to really BE in the place you are travelling at.
But that was not the reason I joined the couchsurfing community. The big thing for me was an unfulfilled wish to travel. I wanted to go anywhere and hike, meet people, see nature and have a good time. Instead, for a lot of reasons, I found myself digging in Israel’s history books as part of an incredibly difficult course required by the Israel Ministry of Tourism to become a tour guide. It seemed endless and got me in the library instead of what I really wanted at the time.
Than a friend told me of a great experience she had with couchsurfing while travelling in Europe and explained to me what couchsurfing is. It lit a light above my head.
Since then I started hosting people from all over the world, helping them travel happily and cheaply while helping myself to a little feeling of the wider world. Forgetting my own life for a night to hear of other people’s great adventures. I hosted Some German girls, one at a time, learning about the current view of holocaust in Germany – which influenced them as much as it influenced Israel. I hosted a couple of girls from Poland to discover that they live close to where my great grandmother was born and also that models can be smart and funny- breaking all of the stigmas.
They made me realise how my home and my country seem in their eyes, which really opened mine.
After a while I even got the idea that I can use couchsurfing in Israel myself, and it helped me travel in very low cost in places I didn’t have friends at (yet) and met people this way.
One of my guests reached me some time after I finished that book-digging course, while she was still studying the same thing. We didn’t know each other at the time but I took her in as a normal couchsurfer with her boyfriend at the time. We hiked some together and talked a lot and since that day (2 years ago this week) and until now we are good friends. Her name is Rotem, and she showed me what happens when you put your initial thoughts aside and do what you wish.
So, I can only tell that you can find lots of good people via couchsurfing, you can discover a lot about the places you and others travel this way, save a lot of money, and with some luck, make some life-long friends.
What is couchsurfing for you guys?
What do you find in hosting others and what do you find in couchsurf-travel?