Couchsurfing is a community of cultural enthusiasts and travellers that runs on kindness and trust. A kind host and a trusting traveller is the recipe behind the Couchsurfing community. So, if you have an open mind, I highly recommend it. If you don’t, I still recommend it as it will open you up to a world of love and kindness. It is definitely the most unconventional way to travel on a budget. Basically, the accommodation is free unlike living in Airbnb or a hotel, it a personal exchange of culture and experiences.
Couchsurfing is an alternative way of travelling and once you take the leap, you will never want to do it another way. For me, it was life-altering, authentic and the most heartwarming way to travel. I met the most amazing, gracious and helpful people, a reminder that this world is truly full of kind souls. So if you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, away from tourist traps, go Couchsurf! https://www.couchsurfing.com/
An avid traveller with limited funds that show up somehow magically last minute, I live and love to travel. My biggest passion is travelling globally through quaint villages, living with the locals. To immerse in their culture and learn local traditions, gastronomic habits and ‘secret’ family recipes. I wondered how I would embark on this journey and lose myself to the spontaneity of a nomadic life!? How will I get to meet the locals in any country? How will they be receptive to opening up their lives, their homes, their kitchens to a complete stranger? How will it all work out logistically? Most importantly, how will I achieve this with the funds available to me. I didn’t have a conventional source of income if I wanted to make this a way of life? That’s when I found my answer, I had to go Couchsurfing
My Nomadic soul’s persistence to find answers
Albeit, thanks to my wonderful supportive parents (despite their concern) I travelled extensively around the globe besides studying and working in different cities, countries. Yet something was missing, the Nomadic life, the life of a free wanderer. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock! Years passed and my dreams started to fade away. Maybe I was being pragmatic, had slipped into my comfort zone or simply trying to figure out my next step. But in the process, my dreams were floating away. However, baking, my new found career and passion which I honed in New York seemed to be my redemption. I wanted to share my skills and meet new people. I love food and I love meeting people. I started hosting eattogether events in my parents home to connect people over my food. It was really a great way to connect strangers together on my table. As much as I enjoyed my hosting’s, my nomadic spirit was beginning to get restless. The need to learn to travel and experience the local cultures was swelling. And I knew it was time to take off.
Taking the radical leap- Couchsurfing
It was at that moment, August 2014, I took off on a solo backpacking adventure ironically with my parent’s persistence. An unmarried, Indian Woman backpacking solo was not so common in India back then and radically challenging for many Indians. Even though my parents were freaking out but they took a leap of faith and let me go. Thanks to their encouragement, I finally landed solo in Europe. To rediscover myself, my lost dreams and to explore the spontaneity within me, I had arrived. I still had to find a way to connect and discover the local cuisines and cultures authentically. Financially constrained at the time, I opted for couch surfing, a life-altering decision that I am grateful for till date.
Couchsurfing was the way to go
I too had always been sceptical about staying for FREE with strangers. I could be robbed, abused, and what not!! Compromising on my privacy and comforts along with the obligations that might follow. Anyways, I decided to take the plunge, mostly for my need for an adventure and for cultural immersion. Inevitably, it was the best way to connect with the locals, share stories and exchange cultures. To rely on the kindness of others is truly humbling and opens you up in so many ways. It was also a challenge to survive in as little means as possible, unlike my holidays in the past. I learnt so much about myself, my own strengths and capabilities. To embrace the unpredictability and spontaneity, to go with the flow was challenging but also freeing. To be open to staying in any given condition and placing faith in the kindness of others, something inside me had changed forever.
If you decide to couch surf
Couch surfing is a global community for like-minded travellers and hosts who open up their world to you out of kindness. The hosts give you access to their homes, time, food, stories at no cost. After all hospitality and experiences unite kindred souls. The bonds that form through couch surfing are on a different dimension than anywhere else in life. Hosts go out of their way to receive you from the station/airport, take you out for dinner, cook with you, show you their world and city and treat you like a VIP to make you feel at home and as comfortable as you can feel. In return, the hosts get to meet people from all walks of life, different nationalities and learn about cultures and food. As a token of your thanks, you can present them with a local gift from your country, or cook for them. Believe me, it will be warmly and graciously received. I love the slogan of Couchsurfing: “friends you haven’t met yet”. It’s a revolutionary way of globalisation and travelling and I absolutely love it! Have you couchsurfed before or hosted anyone in your home?
I will definitely be sharing many more stories of kindness from my days of couch surfing and hopefully you too can get a taste of the generosity of all the kindred spirits out there and the amazing connections that last forever.