Couch Surfing: Why It's Better Than Hotels and How It Makes The World A Better Place

It's not for everyone, but it should be. Granted, it's nice to have some privacy whilst on the road, but at the cost of greater social and cultural disconnect it hardly seems worth it to me. 

Christine with our host in Russia

Christine with our host in Russia

The general trend seems to be that younger travellers lean toward hostels and couch surfing, whereas older travellers aim more towards hotels. Not always, of course, but often enough that I'm sure you could graph the trend and watch the steady decline of couch surfing as folks get older- which is unfortunate. While sleeping on a couch (or floor) isn't ideal, the chance to experience a culture from the inside should be something to revel in. To briefly experience life the way it is in a foreign country- outside of the sterile hotel environment- is an experience to embrace, not shun. Of course every CS experience isn't necessarily an earth-shattered cultural exchange, however, inch by inch the world connects a little more when we spend time with people we don't know. When we eat and talk and stroll the streets in step with a kind stranger our heats grow in tandem. Whatever gaps existed between us disintegrate as a realization begins to settle in: we're not so different, after all. This is something you don't get as easily or as often when you avoid the uber-personal exchange that is sharing a strangers home.

a flat tire is the price of adventure on a CS road trip in Nevada

a flat tire is the price of adventure on a CS road trip in Nevada

It strikes me as tragic that hotels- buildings full of people from a hundred different places- are so sheltering. Aside form the elevator small talk and a polite nod in the buffet queue most people ignore each other in hotels. More often than not, that is precisely why we go there: we want space and privacy and to not be disturbed while we go about our predetermined travel plans; it is a very modern, detached way of doing things. Every now and then? Sure, enjoy a comfy bed and some personal time. But to deny yourself the chance at really connecting with a fellow traveler, in your home or theirs, leaves us all a little less connected in a world that is rapidly falling apart. 

Lend a couch, share a meal, trade a story. These simple acts of kindness speak volumes against the deafening disconnect we're all too often struggling against. It's takes courage to share your life, to let your guard down in a new environment with unfamiliar faces and unfamiliar languages...but rest assured you have nothing to worry about, because you're not alone in doing so. We're all in this together.

comfy?  

comfy?