Saturday, October 30, 2010

Couch Surfing

I guess I should explain to you how we have managed to travel our entire time up the east coast of Oz from Brisbane and not spend a penny on accommodation so far. It has been a combination of sleeping in Heiner's van (our previous ride share up to Airlie Beach) and couch surfing. Now I have actually been on Couch Surfing for three years but only recently have I been active, let me explain the concept to you for those of you who don't know.

Couch surfing is a global thing and is amazing! Say I am landing in Sydney from LA and I need a place to stay. Now I could go the typical route and pay for a hotel/hostel whatever. But lets just say I am on a strict budget. So I have a profile on  Couch Surfingand I log on and “request a couch” so I say I am going to be in Sydney on (insert date here) for (insert number of days here) and I need a place to stay.

Then I look through the available people for that date and time frame who have a couch/bed/whatever that I can sleep on. So these people are offering up their houses/apartments for free for you to stay at just out of the kindness of their hearts. Now I know some of you may be thinking but your staying with strangers?! But you really aren't!

See CS (couch surfing) has a rating/review system very similar to Ebay. The “Hosts” get “reviewed” by every traveler who stays with them so the next traveler knows exactly how this “host” is. So if someone has a lot of negative bad reviews I know not to stay with them and you can read their profile to find out more about them. Not to mention the host and the traveler can choose to be “verified” (as I am) meaning that CS has sent a piece of paper to my postal address in America and I have responded to it. Thereby “verifying” I am who I say I am. It can even go a step further, you can be “vouched for” by someone who knows you personally and that means they trust you totally and completely. This can only be done if that person has been “vouched” for 4 separate times by 4 separate people.

CS works on honesty and trust but it is a very safe system as you can talk by phone/email before you even meet the person. If anything ever was to go wrong the site administrators monitor the email contact so they have an idea of what is going on and you can contact them directly if you ever needed anything they would be able to help ASAP. You don't even have to “host” people or “surf” as we are doing. You can just meet for drinks. In fact when I get to Auckland I am meeting with a group of Americans on Thanksgiving and we are having a real American Thanksgiving! It is gonna be awesome!

So far we have been “hosted” in Bundaberg by Ross for 2 days and it was amazing! Right there by the ocean and had a great time as I told yall. By James in Hervey Bay for a day, also had a great time! Now by Celine for 2 or 3 days in Townsville and yet again had a great time! We have a “host” lined up for Cairns and I know it is going to be awesome as well. So we have had no bad experiences so far, met some amazing people and had great times with new friends AND saved all that money we would have spent on accommodation!

So that's it folks. It is couch surfing and I already have a host lined up for me in Auckland for a while after I leave my friend's place that I met last time I was in New Zealand. I love the concept and I love that it is global. Every country in the world has people looking to host and people look to “surf”. So no matter where I travel I will find someone almost certainly. We have met some amazing people who have opened their houses to us and been really kind to us and showed us around,fed us etc.

Check it out! Www.couchsurfing.org take care,Tyler

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