I tried couchsurfing for the first time yesterday and if my dad reads this post, I’m sure he might have a heart attack. I would go ahead and say that Filipinos (especially the older generations) are not very trusting of strangers. So couchsurfing at a stranger’s home is something my family members wouldn’t approve of me doing. But, hey papa! I’ve done it and I’m still alive!
What is couchsurfing?
Anyways, for those who may not know what Couchsurfing is, it is a website that connects travellers and hosts. A traveller may stay in a host’s home for a few days for free. Some hosts provide a couch while some provide a private room.
What are the benefits of couchsurfing?
First of all, it provides free accommodations to budget travellers who are in need of a place to stay temporarily. It is also a great way to meet local people and make friends.
Where did I couchsurfed?
I couchsurfed in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada but works in Drayton Valley, Alberta, Canada.
Why did I couchsurfed?
There are a few reasons why I finally decided to couchsurf. Here are some of the reasons:
- I was going to be in Edmonton for a two-day symposium and my company was only paying for one-night hotel accommodation. I wanted to stay another night and another day to check out the ice castle so I needed a place to stay.
- I did not know anyone in Edmonton so I don’t have a free place to stay. I didn’t really want to pay for a hostel or hotel because I am saving money. I decided that if I can’t find a place to stay for free in Edmonton, I might as well just drive back to Drayton Valley for about an hour than spend the night in Edmonton.
- However, I hate driving at night and my symposium ends at 5 p.m. So, I really wanted to spend the night in Edmonton if I can.
- One of my guy friends suggested a long time ago for me to use couchsurfing but I was scared of the idea back then. But recently, I thought to myself, I should try couchsurfing in Canada. At least, I know the place, I have a car, and my house is just an hour away, so if anything goes wrong, I won’t be totally helpless. Unlike, if I try couchsurfing in a country I’ve never been to before, don’t know the language, and don’t know anyone.
How was my experience of using the website?
The couchsurfing website was easy to use. I just typed in the name of the city I wanted to stay in and a list of people who are willing to host travellers came up in the search results. I messaged two people and one person messaged me. It was fairly easy for me to find someone to host me. I actually thought I wouldn’t find someone to host me since I do not have any references on my profile and I felt like hosts would be willing to host travellers with references. I was glad that I found a host! 🙂
What was my host like?
My host is a student at the University of Alberta. Brendon (yes, papa, I stayed at a random guy’s living room for a night, please don’t get mad at me) was the second person I messaged. Thirteen minutes after I sent him a message on the couchsurfing website, he called me and asked if I still needed a place to stay. I liked that he was quick in responding to my message and I also liked that he called me instead of texting or messaging me back. It made me feel he is someone I can trust.
When I texted him updates about my symposium, instead of replying to my texts, he just calls me which I also like. I think people who picks up the phone aren’t shady so plus points for him. After my symposium was over, I told him I was on my way to his place. Forty minutes later, I still wasn’t at his place and he texted me and asked me where I was. That was nice of him to check up on me. I picked up food and got lost which is why it took me a while to get to his place. It was good that he followed up and for me that was a thoughtful gesture!
Anyways, he provided a comfortable couch, bed sheets, really warm blankets, and two pillows. For entertainment, we watched Netflix and played a video game.
How did I say thank you to my host?
Although it is not required, I felt like I have to bring him a token of appreciation for letting me crash on his couch for a night. I decided to bring food for supper. I bought us a large pizza to share for the night. I was thinking of bringing him beer but I thought, food will be more appropriate and I also did not know if he drinks or not. Also, I wasn’t sure how a gift of beer would come across to people. I didn’t want my host to think I was trying to get him drunk! 😛
How was my experience?
It was surprisingly a great experience! I have no complaints about my host and the place was decent. I guess the only thing was, my host’s cat scratched my leather bag. 🙁 I can’t blame it on my host though, because it was stated on his profile that he owns a cat. Plus, it’s not that big of a deal.
The couch itself was pretty comfy and big enough for me (but then again, I’m Asian so I don’t need that much space :P). My host said it is the same size as a twin bed.
Would I recommend couchsurfing?
I was forewarned by a girl friend about people using Couchsurfing as a tool to get laid and that Couchsurfing is kind of the new Tinder. I’ve also read articles about couchsurfing experiences of people who meets creepy people on it. All I can say about that is, if your host or guest initiates something like that and you don’t want to engage in that activity, leave. You have a choice. I believe you can also contact the Couchsurfing team to report any issues about safety.
Thank god, my host was not creepy and I did not get killed. I did not feel unsafe at any point during my stay. I would recommend couchsurfing but I would tell people to obviously, be careful when choosing a host or guest. If you have a bad gut feeling, don’t say yes to a host or guest. If you arrive at the host’s place or a guest is making you uncomfortable, you have the right to ask a guest to leave or if you are the traveller, leave. Always trust your gut feeling. I would also suggest letting a family member or friend know details about the host you are staying with just in case something bad does happen, at least they know where you are and who you are staying with.
There you go, my friends! Another bucket list item off my list! I still need to try staying at a hostel!
Do you have any couchsurfing story? Please share it with us by leaving a comment below! 🙂