don’t get me wrong – i enjoy photos of myself in front if famous monuments, i enjoy the security and comfort of hotels/hostels, i enjoy buying souvenirs, i enjoy clubbing and going out at night, and i enjoy being with someone i know very well – but i also adore traveling by myself. there are some things I do that would drive any companion mad. and then i’d lose a friendship. so every now and then it’s best for me to travel on my own for my sanity as well as the sanity of my dear friends.
one thing I do only by myself: couchsurf. *
risky? of course. it’s nothing like a hotel where you get the same cordial experience each time. but a hotel only lets you peer in from behind a glass. through couchsurfing, you’re immersed in the culture from the inside, and you get to see and experience how people really live.
and what hotel could compare with M, my first host in Québec, who took me to a gorgeous waterfall that no tourist ever visits? and who pointed out fossils and told me all sorts of interesting stories about where she grew up?
and at a hotel, how would I have ever been invited to help out at a canotgraphie (canoe dancing) festival?
at the surface, couchsurfing is about free housing – which it is, and i’m grateful for how it’s helped my wallet - but it’s also so much more. it’s a way to really understand how people think and feel. it’s a way to see the daily life of normal people. it’s a way to turn a complete stranger into a new friend. and the best part – each time i’ve done it, the experiences have been amazing but also completely different. whereas at a hotel, every stay has always been essentially the same thing. but it’s also not for those who enjoy set plans – things can change like crazy when you couchsurf! you definitely have to adapt to all the changes it can bring.
more reasons coming later.
*lots of people couchsurf in pairs/groups – but i like to be of as little as a burden as possible, so it’s easier on the host if i’m alone. plus, if i’m with a friend, i know we can be annoying and it’s best if we just split the cost of a hotel room so nobody gets a headache :)!