Couchsurfing Is Not Free
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Couchsurfing Is Not Free

There is more to the community than using someone for a free night.

Couchsurfing Is Not Free
Esther-Irene Egan

Couchsurfing (CS) is more than a free travel accommodation website. Individuals host events for their guests to have the benefit of meeting residents in the area. These events also help local people foster new friendships.

A great way to discover a new city and enjoy a non-touristy side of someplace when traveling is to introduce oneself to locals. People are not required to spend the night with a CS host.

Recent college graduates have told Odyssey how they miss their school years because of all the people they would encounter on campus. Couchsurfing offers college graduates the opportunity to meet individuals from all over the globe with different backgrounds. The events give people the opportunity to go outside of one’s own comfort level.

Mary Ogle has been involved with CS since 2013. In her first year, she tested the waters by only briefly meeting up with people. After a year, she began to host and has gained a “better understanding of cultures that [she] had thought [she] knew so much about.” Through CS, she has made long-lasting friendships from her travels and in her own community.

Jonathan Doyle shares his story about being new to CS in 2014 and “trying to find a host in New York City,” but his requests were turned down. He found out that he needed references after asking someone why his requests kept being denied. References help couchsurfers know someone is real and that they are using the site for authentic experiences.

Doyle created an outing for people to go enjoy some Indian cuisine and privately messaged people instead of sending out a mass invite. He met a lot of interesting people and received six references that night.

Going to events is a great way to receive references. Couchsurfers know that if you have references, then you’re using the site for genuine reasons. As a rule of thumb, both Ogle and Doyle won’t host someone without at least three positive references.

Doyle is one of two founders that created an annual Beach Crash weekend in Charleston, S.C. There are 1,000 people signed up on Facebook to attend the May 19-21 event and 124 confirmed on Couchsurfing’s website. Individuals from several countries such as France, Puerto Rico, Spain and Algeria will be attending the Beach Crash. The event has free activities, including a beach bonfire that will be held for participants to mingle with one another. If someone is not comfortable staying in a stranger’s home, then he or she can book a hotel and hang out with everyone during the activities. The event is made to connect people from around the world while having some beach fun in an old American city.

Immanuel Kant believed you should “always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end.” BBC clarifies that “rational human beings should be treated as an end in themselves and not as a means to something else.”

All a couchsurfer wants is to not be used as a means of free room and board. Doyle explains “I’m not here to save someone else a dime; I’m here for a unique experience.” A unique experience is about sharing a human connection instead of only wanting to use someone for purely selfish reasons.

Couchsurfing is a great way to meet wonderful people and enjoy lovely experiences during your travels. If you want to give CS a try, then you should check out the safety regulations on their website. Enjoy the summer, travel, meet new people and have amazing authentic experiences.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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