Here’s a little backpackers secret for you…
CouchSurfing is a non-profit network set up in 2004 that connects travelers with locals all around the world. The massive site covers over 230 countries and territories; there are over a million members that are on the network. The goal is to get members to foster cultural exchanges, friendships and learning experiences because what better way to learn about a country than to be shown around by a local, right?
Anyone can Host or Surf! As long as you’re not creepy, things should go well. If you’re a bit uncomfortable withthe idea of someone staying in your house or vice versa, the site suggests you arrange to meet up for a coffee or a short day tour instead.
With an open mind and a will to learn, CouchSurfing is a great tool for travelers and adventurers alike.
We spoke to Kendra Chong, a member of the CouchSurfing community.
Name: Kendra Chong
Occupation: Sales Manager
I.M....someone who likes adventures, outdoors and whatnot but also a lazy bum once in a while :)
1. How did you find out about CS?
A blogger recommended me to join CS when I blogged about how expensive accommodation was in Europe after I came back from my backpacking trip inSpainandFrance.
2. How many people have you hosted and what was the experience like?
I'm not too sure as I do not really keep track of it after the first few hosts but I guess it's around 10 to 15. It was surprisingly exciting and it still is! But of course there were some not-so-good experiences with the guests as well but we've got to take the good with the bad.
3. Have you CouchSurfed before? And if so where?
Yes I have. It's hilarious that my first CouchSurf was inKuala Lumpur since I’m fromPenang. But it was quite fun and in the end the host and I became good friends. Then ICouchSurfed Melaka,Singapore andThailand.
4. It seems a bit scary to meet random strangers off the internet, what do you think about that?
It was the scariest thing when I first started because I was more of an introvert. But I found my guts to take the first step and I realized after a few meetings that I enjoyed meeting them, had some wonderful conversations and insights. But above all, I love bringing surfers around to tryPenang's local delicacies!
My advice to all the CouchSurfers, always read CSers' profiles thoroughly especially the references before you decide to or not to meet them and eventually host them. As females, we have to pay more attention to our safety no matter what or where. Besides reading their profiles, I always listen to my instincts.
For more info, check out CouchSurfing.org