After a few weeks of traveling on my own, I was kind of fed up with loud hostels, grocery food and having the same conversation with every traveller I was meeting ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Where are you going?’ Blablabla! I didn’t want to be a tourist anymore. I wanted to meet locals and experience their culture. This is when I got the idea of Couchsurfing. My only past experience has been with my big sister Renée in New York City, 8 years ago. Since then, she has been traveling this way all around the globe. I decided it was now my time to give it a try!
Couchsurfing is a hospitality exchange network where travellers crash for one night or more on locals’ couch, floor or bed if you are lucky enough to have a guest room! Through the Couchsurfing website or mobile app, surfers browse, find a host and request their stay. On their side, hosts read the profile and references of the surfer and decide whether or not to accept him or her as a guest. The concept is free of charge but normally the surfer will thank the host in some kind of way (by cooking a local dish for example). The Couchsurfing culture is all about meeting new people, discovering new cultures, visiting new places and sharing the same passion for traveling with others.
I began surfing in Kenya and then South Africa. So far, I only had very positive experiences! Couchsurfing gave me the opportunity to stay in a house five minutes from the Indian Ocean, to go hiking with my host and her 7 dogs, to jump out of an airplane for free (thank you Skydiving Diani!), to party my head off at the Ultra South Africa music festival, but most of all, to meet amazing people from all around the globe with whom I share great memories and friendship.
From now on, I will definitely continue to surf couches across Africa, but also during my future travels. There’s nothing better than experiencing the culture through locals. Couchsurfing is a fun, economical and exciting way of traveling. You never know where you’ll end up staying for the night or what kind of bond you will have with your host. All you need is an open mind and a vigilant attitude. According to their website, there are now 10 million members in more than 200,000 cities! There is a home for every traveller in this world, which one will be yours?