Couch Surfing: my first experience

couch_surfingBack in 2013, I had to work all weekend in Grantham. Considering that I finished at 11pm, I didn’t really fancy over an hour of driving back to Boston, only to have to return a few hours later. So I decided to stay there.

This left me with three options;

  1. Camping,
  2. Sleeping on an empty hospital bed, or
  3. Spending rather a lot of money to stay in a Travelodge.

Uninspired by all of these, I went for hidden option number 4: Couch Surfing.

For those of you who haven’t heard of couch surfing, its based around a website: CouchSurfing.org. Its a simple concept: Someone puts up their couch on the website, you contact them, and then you go and stay with a random stranger. Its slightly scary, but also tinged with an excitement that the Travelodge rarely imbues to a trip.

What is couch surfing?

Before I tell you about my experience, here are a few quotes about the concept…

Couch surfing isn’t just a means of accommodation; it is an entirely new way to travel. You get to see the world through local residents, not hotel concierges or guidebooks. But what is most profound about the whole experience is the trust that naturally exists.
Time Magazine

Overall, my couchsurfing experience was amazing, and I would highly recommend that people give it a shot at least once.
Brendan’s Adventures

I cannot surf. Something about that spring up from the belly onto the board eludes me and I always end up losing my balance, crashing into the wave instead of riding it, and often also knocking myself in the head with the board.

Couch surfing, however, is another matter completely. At that, turns out, I am a natural.
Huffington Post

So, how did it go?

In summary, it was fantastic. I rocked up, late at night, to the house of a complete stranger, and felt ridiculously welcome.

The house was very unique – it had no heating – but a delicious wood burning stove in the lounge that warmed you right through. The lady kept pet chickens, and I was very interested in her excellent steel chicken feeder – a much better solution to the problem than the rubbish plastic one we had at home. (Looking back, a year later, I realise that we bought both a wood burning stove, and a galvanised chicken feeder as a direct result of this visit!)

For breakfast, she generously made me this amazing Indian grain breakfast. I’ve never had a spicy breakfast before, but its definitely something I could come round to.

All in all, free food, free wifi, a free bed, and excellent conversation: if I’m ever travelling alone, Couch Surfing is going to be my first choice

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