Couchsurfing Characters

Couchsurfing Characters

Traveling around the world is an exercise in trust.  We constantly entrust our lives, gear and happiness to complete strangers. We trust that cab drivers will take us where we want to go, that guesthouses won’t steal our bags and that couchsurfing hosts aren’t serial killers.  For us these are ordinary leaps of faith, but when we talk to friends and family they always have the most concerns about couchsurfing.  Often the question is, what kind of people just let strangers stay in their house for free?  Why would they do that?  Is it safe?

The kind of people that will let you stay in their house for free are well traveled, intelligent, interesting, fun and the most accommodating people you will ever have the pleasure to meet.  Why do they do it?  Because they love it and they want to help you, a fellow traveler.  It’s not only safe, it’s changing the world, making it a safer place for everyone. Every single person we have stayed with in the last 18 months has become a friend and gone above and beyond to make us feel at home; not like a stranger that they met on the internet.

During our two month tour of Australia and New Zealand we only paid for ten days of accommodation, the other 50 days we surfed on 14 different people’s couches.  This was not just a money saving game, meeting these amazing people was the highlight of our time Down Under.  Time and again our hosts would go out of their way to show us their hometown, help us out, give us a ride or share a meal with us.  Let me introduce you to a few choice members of the couchsurfing community.

Right away we got off on the right foot with our gracious host, Alistair in Sydney, Australia.  Not only did he offer us a couch to stay walking distance from Circular Quay and the Opera House, but over New Year’s Eve.  After our Sydney stay we headed to Townsville and were blown away by the kindness of our host Andy.  Our original host fell through and we were looking for a place that night when we called Andy asking if he might be able to host us. He was on his way home from the airport coming back from a trip of his own, but without hesitation he offered to pick us up and host us.  That evening he hosted one of the best parties we’ve attended recently; a poolside BBQ with plenty of beer and his band playing music, jamming well into the night.

Thinking no one could top Andy, we headed to Brisbane where we stayed with Grant and Barb Charge. Our stay started with a delicious meal with Barb’s mother, immediately we felt like part of the family.  Over the course of our visit we learned more about the Charge’s passion for travel and plans to head out on their own round-the-world trip.  We spent each night together talking travel, exchanging tips and sharing our favorite travel blogs.

As hard as it was to leave the Charge’s we were excited to head to Tasmania where we stayed with Stefan and his roommates.  Not only did they have a view of the Hobart harbor to die for, but Stefan’s home brewed beer was incredible.  We were tempted to take all of them with us as we moved on to Melbourne and stayed with Guy, whom inspired us with his plans of future travel to Germany to learn the language.  After Melbourne we headed to Adelaide and became fast friends with Ria and Dave.  They were kind enough to send us on an excellent wine tasting adventure and then  host us and my parents for a BBQ.

Dinner with Terence and two fellow couchsurfers Pia and Alex from Germany

Our positive couchsurfing karma continued as we made our way to New Zealand.  Our first host, Terence, truly embodied the spirit of couchsurfing.  Before even meeting us he offered to leave the keys to his house for us and when we let ourselves in we found another couple staying there.  That was the norm at Terence’s large home, he hosted several people at a time, creating a family of travelers in his own living room. When more people requested to stay with him than he had a bed for he slept on the couch.  Each night we would all share dinner together and talk about our days, it was always an inspiration to hear about Terence’s day of work and then his long training session for his upcoming Ironman triathlon.

Another tough goodbye to Terence and we were on our way to stay with Rachael.  We were her first surfers, but it was as if she were a couchsurfing veteran, she picked us up from the bus, provided bikes for us to use and even took us kayaking.  She lives with her parents and we enjoyed dinner with them as if we were part of the family.  After saying goodbye to Rachael we stayed with another couple that welcomed us to their dinner table in Wellington.  Ursula and Marco had done a full tour of the U.S. via their motorcycles the year before and were full of travel tales to share over our home cooked meal.

Our couchsurfing host Christine in Nelson, NZ

Marco took the time to drive us to the ferry that brought us to the South Island of New Zealand where we stayed with Manuel in Kaikoura.  He welcomed us into his beautiful home right on the water and shared is home baked bread and love for sperm whales.  He is getting a PhD in sperm whale behavior and was fascinating to chat with.  Next we were off to Nelson to stay with Chrtistine and even with her home under construction she found a room for us and taught us a thing or two about fixing up an old house.

After meeting and staying all of these extraordinary people, Tim our last host in Christchurch topped off our experience.  Again, we found ourselves looking for a last minute place to surf and he came to the rescue responding to us within ten minutes and then coming to immediately pick us up and welcome us to his home.  It was my birthday and I can’t think of a better group of people than Tim and his roommates to share homemade pizza and beer with for the occasion.

I hadn’t intended to introduce you to each of our hosts when I started this post, but all of them them were unforgettable and as I remembered our stay with each of them I couldn’t help but smile.  We were exposed to so many things we wouldn’t have been otherwise, learned new things, introduced to off the beaten track attractions and made life long friends. These are the people that you will meet and experiences you can expect to have if you open yourself to couchsurfing.  Let yourself be blown away by the kindness of strangers and you won’t be asking if couchsurfing is safe, instead you’ll be telling everyone how it’s changing the world one couch at a time.

Learn more about couchsurfing:

Check out the couchsurfing website and sign up for free

Read my perspective on Couchsurfing in Japan and South Korea.

Read about how couchsurfing is changing the world, for the better.

Laugh at how thinkCHUA got naked with our Couchsurfing hosts in Japanese saunas.

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Comments

» Ayngelina :
Jun 11, 2012

A lot of people get into Couchsurfing to save money but you are right it’s not about that at all. It’s such an amazing way to get to know places and people you would not normally get to meet.
Read Ayngelina’s awesome post One step closer to scuba

thinkCHUA Reply:

I don’t think Couchsurfing should be about the money. It’s about the people, unless you want to be social, interact with locals and see their city through their eyes its probably not for you.

» Photo Kitch :
Jun 19, 2012

If that article isn’t a powerful advertisement for couch surfing then nothing is

LOCAVORista Reply:

Photo Kitch, the people we met couchsurfing sells the concept by itself. We met people from all walks of life and were impressed by all of our hosts!

» Bka :
Jun 23, 2012

As you are well aware, I am the family skeptic, trying to become a convert after meeting and experiencing first hand the generosity, peace and love offered up by Terence, Christine, Ria and Dave……just to remain on the safe side I will continue to light nightly votive candles…..be safe and smart out there……love dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, I would have thought those experiences with our couchsurfing hosts would have you hosting back home. I will stand by the amazing people we have met through this huge online travel community!

» The Guy :
Jan 28, 2014

It looks like you have had some wonderful couchsurfing experiences and met some great people.

Your opening with regard to trust is very true and in some respects scary. From airline pilots, taxis, hotels, even tour guides and restaurants. You have to submit control to some degree and trust in complete strangers. Thankfully the overwhelming majority of these experiences are pleasant ones.
Read The Guy’s awesome post Hongmei Lu Shanghai – Drinking On The Hongmei Pedestrian Street

LOCAVORista Reply:

Thanks for the comment, couchsurfing definitely requires a huge amount of trust, but it payed off every time. Keep enjoying your travels!

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.

About the Author

LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.

About the Author
LOCAVORista: A curious adventurer exploring the culinary delights and local traditions around the world. Currently on a 3 year round-the-world trip discovering amazing cultures, must-eats and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
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