I never really understood why people would host couch surfers. It seemed like too much generosity to believe. After two workaways, my daughter, with need of a longer stay outside of Europe and no workaway set up, turned to the couchsurfer site for her next destination.
And what a great first experience! She stayed on a river boat docked by the Isle of Wight. Each day, her host packed her a lunch (she also brought goodies back with her to share) and she explored different towns of the Isle. My daughter is a great conversationalist, finds so many things interesting, including film and books, and is quite pleasant to hang out with. They got along very well and he was sad to see her go. He mentioned the Isle of Wight Festival 2023 as an attraction, but not for companionship at the festival; he’s been to enough, he said. He seems genuinely to love sharing these experiences.
So now I’m seeing the possibilities. One question that came to me is whether it’s like hitchhiking, where a woman is much more likely to be picked up than a man. I still wonder what the numbers are.
Reading on wikipedia, I see there are rules like “hosts are not allowed to charge for lodging.” According to this source, couchsurfing was conceived by a 21-year-old computer programmer in New Hampshire in 1999. When he posted asking for a place to crash in Iceland, he got close to 100 offers from college students. He decided to create a website for such exchanges. Collectives cropped up in many locations and sought non-profit status but were denied it by the IRS. So the premise is people freely offer their spaces, yet it’s forced to be a for-profit. Kind of like women freely donating their breastmilk and having others profit down the line.
Well, my daughter is moving on today to a couchsurf in Liverpool. it’s very exciting following the progress, learning the details and understanding how both parties enjoy the experience. They are planning to attend art and music shows. So it can provide someone to do things with. Maybe the surfer is from a place the host is curious about. ThatTravelingChick writes about her experiences. Her suggestions are common sense: read the host’s profile carefully and if you’re female, maybe pick female hosts, if that’s an option. She says she’s both hosted and surfed, and that saving money is “the least amazing thing about it.” She points out that she’s had her generosity returned many times, with reciprocal stays in other countries from surfers she befriended, and that she’s never felt in danger. Way cool!