What if you could travel the world without leaving your home town? What if you could meet the same truly awesome people that you meet while you’re traveling, but they’re local? Would you do it?
No, I’m not talking about exploring the ethnic neighborhoods you may have in your city (though those can also be a great way to travel your hometown!). I’m talking about CouchSurfing. Now, you’re probably thinking, “But I thought CouchSurfing was about hosting out-of-towners?” Well, it is, and I’m not talking about surfing or hosting!
You see, CouchSurfing as a website has two aspects to it. Sure, there’s the surfing and hosting that everyone affiliates with it, but you probably knew that. But did you know there’s also this big social networking component?
This isn’t what you probably think fo when you think of social networking. Throw everything you know about Facebook and Twitter out the window! You see, CouchSurfing is full of groups that run the gamut of different interests and places. To take advantage of this, you join your local CouchSurfing group and you’ll quickly find that people will post things like “Hey, I’m going to get dim sum in Chinatown on Sunday, who wants to join me?” And then you just show up…it’s that easy!
I know, I know, this probably sounds just as crazy as crashing with some complete stranger. I mean why would you go have a meal with somebody you’ve never even talked to before? Why to meet some new, totally awesome people of course!
Think about your experience traveling. You’re constantly encountering people who you’ve never met before because, if you travel alone as I do, you’re eager for some human contact! And you can make some great friends on the road because you share one strong common interest…travel. The same is true for CouchSurfers, even in your hometown!
I used dim sum as an example as it was my first CouchSurfing experience, one which made me fall in love with the website. Though I sat down at a table full of strangers, I went on to make some great friends, including folks who I have joined for numerous events since!
And these events aren’t just things like dim sum! Here in NYC, CouchSurfing meetups entail just about everything you can imagine! Aside from the weekly bar meetups we have, I’ve done pot lucks, birthday parties, traditional Ukrainian dinners in Coney Island, Asian buffets in Queens, bar crawls in Brookyln, movies in Central Park, Philharmonic concerts in Prospect Park and one incredible scavenger hunt throughout lower Manhattan. The beauty of events like these is that they can literally be anything! You could accompany someone to a museum, organize a skiing trip or even spend a weekend at someones house in the Hamptons!
CouchSurfers watching a free movie in Central Park
And, of course, these events aren’t just attended by some awesome travel-centric locals! At my last CouchSurfing meetup, I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Costa Ricans, Colombians, Indians, Filipinos and Texans, all visiting from out of town!
So if you want to have the benefits of travel without actually going anywhere, why not take advantage if what your local CouchSurfing community has to offer? It’s a great way to get your feet wet in the CouchSurfing experience without actually surfing or hosting. And who knows? You might just discover some parts of your own city that you would have otherwise never seen and meet some wonderful people with which to share your travel dreams!
Are you involved with your local CouchSurfing community? What sort of experiences have you had?