June 13, 2008

Today is World CouchSurfing Day 2008

An online network that aims to connect travellers and help them better connect with the people and places they visit is celebrating its success.

Today is World CouchSurfing Day 2008.

CouchSurfing is a movement involving more than half a million people worldwide, with the idea of helping travellers experience places and cultures by introducing them to the people who can really show them how the locals do it - the locals themselves.

And experiencing the lifestyle in Hawkes Bay is a young German working holidaymaker who has used CouchSurfing to help her make her way around Australia and New Zealand.

S W, from Cologne, decided in 2006 she wanted to spend a year in the Southern Hemisphere.

While researching how best to do this on a minimal budget she came across the CouchSurfing website.

Couchsurfing travellers can go and stay, free of charge, in the homes of people they meet on the website.

Knowing she would be asking strangers for the occasional bed when she set off on her adventures, Sonja started hosting people at her Cologne flat.

She said couchsurfing has made her trip.

"I hosted quite a few people especially during the (soccer) World Cup in 2006, and it was good for me to meet new people.

"It taught me travelling was a normal thing and not strange like my friends said."

Finding places to stay is only one thing couchsurfing offers.

"It's not necessarily about sleeping over.

"That's how it came into life but there are also meetings where people get together and do things, like go to a concert."

S came to Hawkes Bay in early February to work in an orchard, and until her job started was adrift and on her own.

Feeling lonely, she checked out the couchsurfing website and found another member here, contacted them and had a place to stay and some company until the job, which came with accommodation, began.

"My loneliness was over."

S said the couchsurfing community was not a "wonderland" of safety and security, but there were plenty of things in place like vouching and references to help people decide if they would be a good fit.

"Normally it's not a last minute thing, you exchange emails and know if you'll get along.

"If you're not rushing it's okay."

Today is World CouchSurfing Day 2008

Postnote: I read in this month's September 2008 edition of Consumer mag a 2-3 page article about couch surfing. Worth a read if you are thinking about using this service or are just interested. I've already posted the link to the main home page of couchsurfing.com in my right hand column - either under "links" or "my learning folder". :)

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I came, I saw, I commented!

Veni, vidi, vici.

I came, I saw, I conquered.

Caesar, 47 B.C

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