I wanted to write something about couchsurfing (CS to make it shorter) long time ago but I couldn’t find the right moment for it. Now it is. As per the picture, I wanted to stay one night in Bratislava and, after sending 10 (TEN) requests I received only one response that was negative.
Wouldn’t you say that CS is dead? I would and here are some more reasons.
I have joint CS recently, in December 2009, when I finally moved to a bigger place so that I could have hosted someone. Right! because the original idea of couchsurfing was this one: to HOST an unknown traveller and to get HOSTED by someone you have never met before. To me it sounded incredibly nice and I was happy to try it!
Despite living in a small city in Czech rep, Brno, not really a touristic destination, I hosted couples of travellers within the first two years, then I started to travel and I had wonderful experiences being hosted by someone (with whom I am still in touch, Laura from Brasov and Sara from Constanta, both in Romania for examples).
This was long time ago, unfortunately. As for the picture shown at the beginning of the post, it became impossible to find someone able and willing to host – unless you are a girl, I wonder why…
I have a bit of experience, 27 positive reviews (only positive!), an updated profile with all kind of information, so what is wrong with the actual CS?
Well, many things. Starting from the moment when CS became a corporation (yes, suck lovely idea is since 2011 a fu.kin corporation!), many old and committed members of the community signed out and founded another free hosting one: bewelcome
However the issues were already before, with CS becoming very popular and attracting new people that were not aware nor bonded with the CS spirit. What is a CS spirit? Easy, as the website states: ‘Travel the world, explore your city and host new friends. Couchsurfing is the world’s largest travel community.’ Travelling, hosting and get hosted by someone.
Nowadays most of the members join the community either to sleep for free or to ‘meet new people’. How? Try to search for a couch and see the amount of members that are not offering it or that joint CS only to ‘coffee and chat’.
Yes, that is the REAL problem. CS is now a social network if not even a dating platform, people would rather join the CS events, party and social activities more than travelling and using it for the original purpose.
Having fun, meeting new people is NOTHING bad, of course, but joining a travelling website ONLY to drink during the parties and socialize with foreigners it IS! This is the new trend and it will not change. I tried to search for a couch in several cities, sending dozens of request (yes, the website itself suggest to send an high number of requests…), receiving ONLY negative answers or not even them.
I don’t want to go to details about another ‘HOT’ and controversial topic, people joining CS to have sex… Most of couchsurfers know what I am talking about, the website was nicknamed ‘cocksurfer’ for some reasons.
I can tell you my HONEST experience, I had NEVER done anything, sexual related, either with a host or a guest. I might be stupid but I had respect for the original idea and I never wanted to spoil it. Once, in Poland I refused to ‘share’ a bed with the girl that was hosting me. It was not because I didn’t like her, I explained her that I considered her as a CS host and that I would have come back to her place under different ‘motivation’, if she wanted. So she did and I came back to poland few weeks after.
However I’ve heard many stories (funny or weird to say the least) from other members. Again, there is NOTHING bad in having attraction from someone unknown, so I don’t want to judge this point and people who ‘had fun’ thanks to CS, however many times it was the ONLY reason to use CS and in many cases it went too far.
Eventually I discovered that staying in a hostel is much funnier, hostels are (usually) in very good location, I can have my own freedom to do what I want, go to bed or wake up at any time I want and meet interesting people and travellers, as the first people I met with CS were
Couchsurfing is dead, long live at couchsurfing!
This tour is already over but I have very good memories and I’m ready for the next ones!
Below some pictures from the last days nearby Constanta – Vama Veche (romania), with my lovely friends from couchsurfing.
This small village only few km far from the border with Bulgaria used to be a fishermen village, during the 80’s and 90’s became a spot loved by students and young people, kind of hippy and free spirits land, with nudist beaches, party, music, free camping…
Fresh fish grilled on the beach and a beer with good friends is still a nice reason to visit it 😉
I found it a bit kitch and commercial now, but still, a nice place to see. I had great time playing with my friends (and other people) dogs.
Thanks again Sara, Tomy, Flory and Sorin !!!!!
‘Date a boy who treasures experience over toys, a hand-woven bracelet over a Rolex. Date the boy who scoffs when he hears the words, “vacation”, “all-inclusive”, or “resort”. Date a boy who travels because he’s not blinded by a single goal but enlivened by many.’
You might find him in an airport or at a book store browsing the travel guides – although he “only uses them for reference.” You’ll know it’s him because when you peek at his computer screen, his background will be a scenic splendor of rolling hills, mountains, or prayer flags. His Facebook friend count will be over-the-roof, and his wall will be plastered with the broken English ‘miss-you’ of friends he met along the way. When he travels, he makes lifelong friends in an hour. And although contact with these friends is sporadic and may be far-between, his bonds are unmessable and if he wanted, he could couch surf the world… again.
Buy him a beer. Once a traveller gets home, people rarely listen to their stories. So listen to him. Allow him to paint a picture that brings you into his world. He might talk fast and miss small details because he’s so excited to be heard. Bask in his enthusiasm. Want it for yourself.
Date the boy who talks of distant places and whose hands have explored the stone relics of ancient civilizations and whose mind has imagined those hands carving, chiseling, painting the wonders of the world. And when he talks, it’s as if he’s reliving it with you. You can almost hear his heart racing. You can almost feel the adrenaline ramped up by the moment. You feel it passing through his synapsis, a feast to his eyes entering through those tiny oracles of experience that we call pupils, digesting rapidly through his veins, manifesting into his nervous system, transforming and altering his worldview like a reverse trauma and finally passing, but forever changing the colors of his sight. (Unless he’s Karl Pilkington.) You will want this too.
Date a boy who’s lived out of a backpack because he lives happily with less. A boy who’s travelled has seen poverty and dined with those who live in small shanty’s with no running water, and yet welcome strangers with greater hospitality than the rich. And because he’s seen this, he’s seen how a life without luxury can mean a life fueled by relationships and family, rather than a life that fuels fancy cars and ego. He’s experienced different ways of being, respects alternative religions and he looks at the world with the eyes of a five-year-old, curious and hungry. Your dad will be happy too because he’s good with money and knows how to budget.
This boy relishes home; the comfort of a duvet, the safety stirred in a mom-cooked meal, the easy conversation of childhood friends, and the immaculate glory of the flush-toilet. Although fiercely independent, he has had time to reflect on himself and his relationships. Despite his wanderlust, he knows and appreciates his ties to home. He has had a chance to miss and be missed. Because of this, he also knows a thing or two about goodbyes. He knows the overwhelming uncertainty of leaving the comforts of home, the indefinite see-you-laters at the departure gates, and yet he fearlessly goes into the unknown because he knows the feeling of return. And that the I’ve-missed-you-hug is the best type of hug in the whole world. He also knows that goodbyes are just prolonged see-you-laters and that ‘hello’ is only as far away as the nearest internet cafe.
Don’t hold onto this boy. Let this boy go and go with him. If you haven’t travelled, he will open your eyes to a world beyond the news and popular perception. He will open your dreams to possibility and reality. He will calm your nerves when you’re about to miss a flight or when your rental blows a flat, because he knows the journey is the adventure. He will make light of the unsavory noises you make when you – and you will – get food poisoning. He will make you laugh through the discomfort all while dabbing your forehead with a cold cloth and nursing you with bottled water. He will make you feel like you’re home.
When you see something beautiful, he will hold your hand in silence, in awh the history of where his feet stand, and the fact that you’re with him.
He will live in every moment with you, because this is how he lives his life. He understands that happiness is no more than a string of moments that displace neutrality, and he is determined to tie as many of these strings together as he can. He also understands your need to live for yourself and that you have a bucketlist of your own. Understand his. Understand that your goals may at some points differ, but that independence is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship when it’s mutually respected. You may lose him for a bit, but he will always come home bearing a new story and a souvenir he picked up because it reminded him of you, like it was made for you, and because he missed you. You might be compelled to do the same. Make sure that independence is on your bucketlist, and make sure it’s checked. Independence will keep your relationship fresh and exciting, and when you’re together again it will forge a bond of unbreakable trust.
He’ll propose when you’ve breached your comfort-zone, whether it be a fear like skydiving or swimming with sharks, or sitting next to the smelly person on an overcrowded bus. It won’t be with a diamond ring, but with a token from a native culture or inspired by nature, like the penguin and the pebble.
You will get married somewhere unassumed, surrounded by a select few, in a moment constructed to celebrate venturing into the unknown together again. Marry the boy who’s travelled and together you will make the whole world your home. Your honeymoon will not be forgotten to a buffet dinner and all-you-can-drink beach bars, but will be remembered in the triumphant photographs at the top of Kilimanjaro and memorialized in the rewarding ache of muscles at the end of a long days hike.
When you’re ready, you will have children that have the names of the characters you met on your journeys, the foreign names of people who dug a special place in your heart if only for a few days. Perhaps you will live in another country, and your children will learn of language and customs that open their minds from the very start, leaving no room for prejudice. He will introduce them to the life of Hemingway, the journey of Santiago, and empower them to live even bigger than both of you.
Marry a boy who travels and he’ll teach your children the beauty of a single stone, the history of the Incas and he will instill in them the bravery of possibility. He will explain to them that masking opportunity, there is fear. He will teach them to concur it.
And when you’re old, you’ll sit with your grandchildren pouring over your photo albums and chest of worldly treasures, while they too insert themselves into your photographs, sparked by the beauty of the world and inspired by your life in it.
Find a boy who travels because you deserve a life of adventure and possibility. You deserve to live light and embrace simplicity. You deserve to look at life through the eyes of youth and with your arms wide open. Because this is where you will find joy. And better, you will find joy together. And if you can’t find him, travel. Go. Embrace it. Explore the world for yourself because dreams are the stuff reality is made from.