Some of my recent posts talk about traveling with a host and leveraging Couchsurfing as a way to save money and meet locals. In line with that, I have gathered several stories of stellar hosts and memorable experiences with Couchsurfing! The authors of these stories have graciously shared their memories below. Couchsurfing allows travelers and hosts to connect in an organic way; because there is no financial exchange, intentions are often more pure. These stories are a great collection of examples. If you have the chance to Couchsurf, I highly recommend it!
Take it away, fellow travel advocates!
Rohan from Travels of a Bookpacker
Destination: Klaipeda, Lithuania
We had three weeks to make our way from Frankfurt [Germany] to Tallin [Estonia] and back. We had no real route in mind but decided to see how cheaply we could do it, so we packed a tent and sent out some Couchsurfing requests to see if we could meet and stay with some locals along the way. Within a few hours we had a reply from a couple in Klaipeda, Lithuania offering us a room. Their message also said, “You do know it’s the Klaipeda Beer Festival the day you leave, right? Are you sure you don’t want to stay another day and come with us?” Naturally, we agreed.
When we arrived, our hosts showed us to a whole separate apartment above them with three bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. Another couple was staying there, and we all hit it off straight away. That evening, we got to know each other over homemade pizza and a variety of Lithuanian craft beers.
In the morning, our host baked us Lithuanian cookies before going to work. She then met us during her lunch break to show us the “Best burgers in Klaipeda”. Afterwards, we headed to the Beer Festival. The festival that evening had great food, excellent live music, and, of course, some delicious beer. We enjoyed the experience so much that we stayed another night and travelled on with the other couple to Latvia! Thanks to Facebook, the six of us are still friends and keep in touch about our travels and adventures. I had never heard of Klaipeda before our stay but now it is a place I’ll never forget.
Follow Rohan & Travels of a Bookpacker
[Recommended Read: The Ultimate Guide to Saving Thousands with Couchsurfing]
Alexa Hohenberg from Still Stoked
Destination: The Thompson Pass Highway in Alaska, USA
In spring every year, hundreds of die-hard skiers and snowboarders make a pilgrimage to Alaska. Alaska, with its 5,000-foot peaks rising out of the water, offers some of the best extreme skiing sites in the world. Taking it one step further, the dirtbag skiers of the world opt to stay that bit closer to the action, camping literally on the side of the Thompson Pass Highway.
I had just finished up a month of heli-skiing [where you are air-lifted by helicopter to the top of the mountains]. We stayed on the other side of the mountain range and needed to make plans on the go to keep living the wild Alaska dream. Problem was, my friend Lesley was still stuck working on the oil pipe line 5000km north of our location. I had nowhere to stay and didn’t know anyone on the Valdez side of the range. Lesley gave me a phone number of some guy she met who was building a cabin on the pass. “He’s a hoot” she said, “Likes to party, has a snowmobile. Give him a call and you’ll be fine.” Nervous, I gave him a call.
The kindness of strangers never ceases to amaze me. Pat welcomed me with open arms. He arranged for another friend to pick me up from the ferry when I arrived. I even got my own space in the 12ft x 15ft hand-built cabin he and his friends knocked up. Armed with a potbelly stove for warmth, gourmet food brought by a local Anchorage chef, and enough fresh coffee and snowmobiles to fuel an army of dirtbag skiers, the cabin was the envy of every other T-pass camper. It was a constant revolving door of wide-eyed visitors.
The cabin home improvements never stopped. We made a sauna out of polystyrene sheets, an old furnace, and a snowbank. An old wooden hot tub was put in the ice-cold spring with a fire under it for long soak sessions after skiing. Someone else tied a hydro-hammock between two trees! Donations for home decor came thick and fast with each visitor wanting to leave their mark on the cabin. I’m not sure how we ended up with the deer antlers on the front. But in Alaska, anything goes.
I spent two weeks with the Anchorage crew in that beautiful cabin. We snowmobiled when it was sunny, drank when it rained, and partied the rest of the time. The simple way of life and community up on that highway blew me away; it reaffirmed my desire to live a simpler life. It just goes to show all you need is a vision, some hard work and great company and you can build yourself a community anywhere, even on the side of the road in minus degree temperatures.
Follow Alexa & Still Stoked
[Recommended Read: Why You Should Start Your Travels with a Host]
Carly Heyward from Flight of the Educator
Destination: Zagreb, Croatia
I tried Couchsurfing in 2008 because someone stole my passport on the very first day of my trip. I budgeted some emergency money, but spent it all on a new passport. Someone suggested Couchsurfing so I could save money, and I ended up trying it in Zagreb, Croatia.
My host took me out to a Croatian diner and insisted that I try something I definitely wouldn’t have if I was alone. We went to an “American” bar so I could see what Croatians thought Americans were like, then went a club where they did traditional folk dancing!
The next day, he drove us to a small town outside of Zagreb to eat a traditional cake (delicious)! I ended up missing my train to Budapest that night, which would have been awful if I didn’t Couchsurf. Instead, my host let me stay for another night, which was so helpful. In 2012, I was back in Croatia to go to Korcula Island for Scuba Diving for a week, and my host ended up coming and surfing on my couch on the Island!
Even though I started Surfing because it was free, I continue because it’s a great experience. I love seeing a city through a local’s eyes. The host will translate for you if you don’t know the language, teach you some silly things in that language, and is invested in your loving their city too!
I try and find a way to give back to the hosts because they don’t do it for free; I bring dollar bills from America that I’ve folded into rings. Also, in the case of my first experience, I did his dishes while he was at work (he had complained about hating dishes) and bought him dinner when he let me stay an extra night.
I’ve since hosted a few times, but Surfed many more. Hosts enjoy guests who don’t just use the place as a free crash pad, but instead are interested in a cultural experience.
Follow Carly & Flight of the Educator
[Recommended Read: How to Overcome Your Travel Nerves]
Naty from Why She Lives to Run
Destination: New York City, USA
The only reason we chose the place we stayed at was that we had a car and needed a parking space – not easy to come by in New York City. We stayed in the basement of a house directly across from Manhattan, in New Jersey – it had a pool, a Jacuzzi, and a fully stocked kitchen. Mike, the owner, also had a yacht. One day, he offered to bring us to Manhattan by boat and show us around. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. On our way back, he asked if we wanted to stop by the Statue of Liberty. We obviously agreed, and we got there by sunset. The view was truly something I’ll never forget.
Destination: Quebec City, Canada
One of my first Couchsurfing experiences was in Quebec City, where I stayed with a student. When we got there, we climbed onto the roof to drink beer. Later that night, he took us to his university. He was a radio show host and asked us if we could do an interview. He spoke French and we answered in German – I thought nobody would’ve understood a word, but it was a lot of fun!
Destination: Los Angeles, USA
While Couchsurfing in Tahoe City, our host told us about these hidden hot springs in the Sierra Nevada mountains. We decided to stop by and were lucky that we found them. There, we met two women from L.A. who we quickly got talking to. We mentioned that we were going to be in Los Angeles a few weeks later and they offered to host us while we were there. When we got to the house, Sharon gave us her keys, instructions on how to care for her two dogs, two bags full of groceries, her Netflix password, and said “I know that while traveling, sometimes you just need to feel at home.” Then she left for the weekend and we had the whole house to ourselves.
Follow Naty and Why She Lives to Run
Want to Pin this post for later?