The Broke But Happy Traveler

I thought couch surfing was for kids, like my 20-something nephew who,
at this very moment, is en route from Michigan to Honduras. This
peripatetic child has been known to friend total strangers. He once met
an older couple on a 24-hour airport layover and went home with them
where his temporary grandma and grandpop served him a warm square one
 and invited him back again.

Well
now that I think of it, I once did that very thing in Malaysia and
ended up in a Colonial-era gated estate in Georgetown, chauffeured by
servants who picked us up along with our just-met hosts at Penang
International Airport. Maybe it's a genetic defect I share with my
nephew. Mind you—I did not stay overnight.

Anyhow, was I
startled to discover yesterday that friends of mine—a perfectly
respectable couple in their 50s and 60s—have taken to couch surfing!
Yep, Renee told me she and Ben recently crashed on strangers' futons in
Atlanta, Las Vegas and Delray Beach. Further, they hosted a guy from
India and didn't even come close to barely escaping with their lives.
"He was great," Renee said cheerily, "and was also a Christian, just
like us."

Renee says they've gotten a good feel from someone's
profile and ensuing correspondence. So far, they've experienced no
unpleasant surprises or massacres. "I would highly recommend [it] for
people like us who love to travel but are rather strapped for money,"
she said. "Ben has been underemployed for two years, and I am
scrambling for photography gigs in this weakened economy, so this is
really the only way we can travel."

I have couch-surfed with
people I've gotten to know at a conference or met secondarily
/tertiarily via friends. I have also hosted same, but not yet with
strangers—strangers met on The Internets. Check out these:

www.couchsurfing.com
www.hospitalityclub.org

By
the way, Renee emailed, "We actually do sleep on couches and almost
always share a bathroom. This is why we take flip flops. Linens have
been clean everywhere so far."

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