The Adventure of Couchsurfing

Stay with Locals and Make New Friends



Daniel Sperry, a “couchsurfer” in his late 50s, decided a few years ago to quit his day job and make a living by performing cello music and reciting poetry in living rooms across the country. “I didn’t know it would become a catalyst for bringing communities of local people together,” he says, but his first gig, a “little shotgun shack” in Elko, Nevada, became more than a once in a lifetime experience. Years later, his Elko host remains a close friend and hosts a regular (and lucrative) stop on his cross-country tours.

Not only does creating connections with strangers make us happier—as University of Chicago social scientists have proven—it leads to fun travel stories. If we choose to see the world via the decade-old organization at Couchsurfing.com, we might find ourselves sleeping on a sailboat in the Irish Sea; meeting backpackers by solar-powered light in a cave in Petra, Jordan; sharing a room with a pet bird that falls asleep listening to sappy love songs on the radio; or jamming to old-time banjo and fiddle tunes in a North Carolina kitchen.

The global community of couchsurfers, now 10 million strong, considers strangers “friends you haven’t met yet.” They currently are hosting and organizing more than half-a-million events in more than 200,000 cities worldwide this year. The aim is to make travel easier and more affordable, build people’s faith and trust in one another and create meaningful connections across cultures.

As a traveler, offer an ethnic meal, good story or how to say hello in a different language. As a host, be open to what guests can teach. Keep a travel log and guestbook to record memories.

It’s easy to become a member by creating a profile as a host and/or a traveler, which includes verified identification. Guests don’t need to reciprocate by hosting or leaving gifts, although lasting friendships are a common result. Hosts and guests are encouraged to leave honest reviews for each other, which helps ensure ongoing safety and good behavior all around.

Meanwhile, nonmembers also are welcome to explore couchsurfing events in their city. Fun opportunities to make new connections include weekly language exchanges, skill swaps, outdoor activities and potlucks.

“For me, it’s undeniably about the community, the kind of person it tends to attract,” says Joseph Abrahamson, a couchsurfer in his mid-20s. “A room full of couchsurfers is full of stories and listening and sharing and trust. It changes a person in a positive way… people that travel like this for long enough can no longer survive with closed minds.”


Lisa Rosinky is a freelance writer in Boston.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

When Angels Play Poker by Maura O’Leary

When Angels Play Poker is a story about the adventures in heaven when an ordinary couple go about their lives on Earth, while being watched over, prayed for and loved every day.

Waking Up

I’ve often felt that “I need to be hit in the head with a hammer” before waking up to a lesson that has, in retrospect, been blatantly staring me in the face for years. I’m happy that recently my best life education has come in the form of...

The Organic Mattress Releases New Non-Toxic Furniture Line

The Organic Mattress is launching a timely collection of upholstered furniture that uses all-natural and non-toxic ingredients and upholstery fabrics.

Stay Healthy on the Road with an Herbal Travel Kit

Travel can have a way of bringing up health concerns. Whatever the situation, there are herbal allies ready to help.

Online Silent Auction Fundraiser for Health Choice Massachusetts Nonprofit

Health Choice Massachusetts will hold an online auction fundraiser from November 1 through 7 to benefit the organization’s mission of advocating for patients’ rights.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »This Month

When Angels Play Poker by Maura O’Leary

When Angels Play Poker is a story about the adventures in heaven when an ordinary couple go about their lives on Earth, while being watched over, prayed for and loved every day.

Waking Up

I’ve often felt that “I need to be hit in the head with a hammer” before waking up to a lesson that has, in retrospect, been blatantly staring me in the face for years. I’m happy that recently my best life education has come in the form of...

The Organic Mattress Releases New Non-Toxic Furniture Line

The Organic Mattress is launching a timely collection of upholstered furniture that uses all-natural and non-toxic ingredients and upholstery fabrics.

Stay Healthy on the Road with an Herbal Travel Kit

Travel can have a way of bringing up health concerns. Whatever the situation, there are herbal allies ready to help.

Online Silent Auction Fundraiser for Health Choice Massachusetts Nonprofit

Health Choice Massachusetts will hold an online auction fundraiser from November 1 through 7 to benefit the organization’s mission of advocating for patients’ rights.

New Look for Natural Awakenings Magazine

The new logo and cover design will appear in all editions starting this month.