Can I sleep on your sofa? An ode to couchsurfing

Victoria couchsurfing

Salma eats fish for breakfast, Denny drinks whisky and Lorna sits in prayer. I eat cereal, and cake on Mondays. We all like biscuits. They say C2s buy bourbons and live in flats, and C1s earn £30,000+ and eat out twice a week. Averages frustrate me; we’re all exceptions.

People have always intrigued me. I wanted to know everyone at school, out of school, the exchange students, anyone that entered my world. I once had ten pen friends. It started with books, and then I looked up and saw a living library around me: endless characters to meet and stories to share in. I wondered what I was searching for, until I realised I wasn’t searching at all, I was exploring. Some people explore forests, history, the sky. I like to explore people: how they live, how they’re happy, what they see.

Eating lunch at a favela in Rio

Couchsurfing in Rio meant we got to explore the favelas in a non-touristy way

Sometimes the way life goes means you have to stay put. Finding quality moments with friends is an elusive enough endeavour, let alone finding space for new people. There are stories all around us, and friends who become favourites, but I still crave the exotic. I want to meet an anarchist from Sweden, a girl who grew up on a mountain and a man who dances in secret every day at 6 pm. In couchsurfing, I found a shortcut to meaningful time with strangers.

The secrets of couchsurfing

In the library of the world, couchsurfing isn’t just the travel section. Every time I read a couchsurfer’s profile, I get excited. It’s a way to bring traveling home. It gives you an alternative map of the city and its people, pointing you directly to those who’ll share. You find secrets that it’s much harder to as a tourist. I remember meeting an inventor of miniature robots, returning to live with a group of animators and spending time in Antoine’s beautiful flat with a swing overlooking Gràcia.

Couchsurfing in Buenos Aires

In

On one trip to Paris, my boyfriend and I stayed in a different place each night. We joined a house party of artists celebrating the final night of their degree and visited a couple of photographers from Brighton setting up home in the city. We spent a final night with Katerina, a jaded but joyous Belarusian designer who dressed just like a droog. She and her undertaker flatmate taught us the anatomy of the horse and befuddled us with their contradictions. At 3 am, I was sure bedtime was nigh, but they ushered us onto the street with the promise of a hidden secret. We were soon in the deserted grounds of the Sacré-Cœur. We climbed, giggling with the beauty of it, onto the carousel and sat entranced by the city beneath.

That night and every time I meet someone new, I learn a little bit more about the world and in turn I learn more about myself. People often say that traveling makes you more open-minded, but I think it’s the people you meet that do that, no matter where you are. If you only spend time with people inside your own everyday life, interests and culture, then averages can start to make sense. The world is full of intricacies, individuals, similarities and difference. The more you meet, the more exceptions you’ll see.

This article originally appeared in Oh Comely Magazine

Posted on January 8, 2013 by Victoria in Thoughts 21 Comments

21 Responses to Can I sleep on your sofa? An ode to couchsurfing

  1. Fon

    I am one of the couchsurfing member with the very nice experiences from it. I didn’t meet up with others for a long time. Reading your article reminds of how’s it like to share stories, have fun, getting new awesome persons as friends. I need to meet up with them soon.:)
    Fon recently posted..Bus from Siem Reap to BangkokMy Profile

     
    • Victoria

      That’s great you’ve had some fun Couchsurfing adventures too. It’s lovely when you can keep in touch with the friends you meet along the way.

       
  2. Britany

    I’ve never tried couch surfing but I’d love to give it a try at some point in Colombia. I’m curious to see if it will be difficult to find places to stay if I’ve never had the chance to host other couch surfers myself…

     
    • Victoria

      It might be a little more tricky, but so long as you write a good personal message, you should be fine. If you have any friends on Couchsurfing, you can ask them to write references for you, which should help a bit. Also, I’m going to write something soon on how to write a good Couchsurf request/ how to Couchsurf safely. Let me know if you have any questions.

       
  3. Travelphilia

    Great post, I love Couchsurfing!
    I’ve met some wonderful people through Couchsurfing – especially like-minded people. I’m still in contact with most of my Couchsurfers. Amazing, isn’t it?
    Travelphilia recently posted..The Traveller’s lesson in Etiquette – Visiting The PhilippinesMy Profile

     
  4. Couchsurfing

    This is such a beautiful post! We love your stunning images. Thanks for sharing.

    ~Marian

     
  5. becci kyle

    I’ve had some absolutely amazing experiences couchsurfing in Africa and Europe ,but there were also ones that didn’t end so well. Even after the bad ones I’ll never stop couchsurfing and you’ve just confirmed it for me that there are still alot of awesome people in the couchsurfing community to meet!

     
  6. boru

    Lovely stuff. I want a couchsurfing adventure!

     
  7. Ally

    I haven’t couch surfed in anyone else’s house yet but we have had a few stay in ours. The first girls kept to themselves quite a bit but the second lot we had were lovely, its such a great way to meet new people and learn about other cultures.
    Ally recently posted..Why I want to do my semester abroad in MexicoMy Profile

     
  8. Yeity

    If you’re ever down our way – we’ve got a couch ready for the taking :)

     
  9. Inma

    Couldn’t agree more with your last sentence. Enjoy the diversity!
    Inma recently posted..How safe is CouchsurfingMy Profile

     
  10. Colleen

    Beautiful! Couchsurfing has been my favorite part of my trip. Hands down. I love love love all the people I meet.

     
    • Victoria

      We agree 100%. Couchsuring is awesome!

       
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  13. Sam

    Your attitude towards wanting to meet people is very inspirational, and this is a beautiful post. I’ve done a bit of couchsurfing in my time, but it’s always been about me and my needs if I’m being honest. Thanks for this, I hope I can bring some of your excitement forward into my next adventure on CS.
    Sam recently posted..Benny Lewis and Fluent in 3 months… possible, scam or what?My Profile

     
    • Victoria

      Thanks Sam. Good luck with your next Couchsurfing adventure. It’s amazing the types of experiences you can have when travelling this way. We love it!

       
  14. Davide about free sleeping

    We couldn’t probably travel so much without couchsurfing, but lately is becoming more and more difficult to find original travellers and less city people!

     
    • Victoria

      Really? We haven’t found that so far, but we havent been couchsurfing in a while. We plan to on an upcoming trip to Kuala Lumpur. It’ll be interesting to see how the community has changed.

       
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  16. Laura

    I love couchsurfing! Haven’t done it for all that long yet, but the experiences I’ve had so far have been amazing. I have become good friends with all of the people I’ve hosted or at whose place I’ve surfed. I even already visited one that surfed my place a couple of months ago. Couchsurfing is such a great way to meet many like-minded people and to explore new places with a local!
    Laura recently posted..Wanderlust forever!My Profile

     

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