Imagine it. You’ve arrived in a city completely unlike your own, late at night, with no where to stay and no idea of where to go. Far, far away from home you know no one, or nothing of this new, but potentially interesting place, so where do you stay and what do you do.
Hospitality comes in many forms, but, if you head to the nearest internet café to search you will find that one of the most unusual forms of hospitality comes in the guise of Couch Surfing. Couch Surfing is a phrase coined literally meaning to sleep on friends couches, sofa’s, settee’s or whatever you call them in lieu of a bed that you don’t own. Often people in between tenancies or temporarily homeless will couch surf for a few weeks.
Since 2001 Couch Surfing has become a worldwide phenomena with over 2 million members. Members register their details on a website inviting overseas travellers to stay at their hospitality for a few days, in return when the host goes travelling, they become the Couch Surfer on someone else’s couch in a different country, and so the cycle of goodwill and hospitality begins.
There are members from all over the world from Orlando to Oman, and thousands of success stories. Security-wise it has proven to be a safe option for anyone including lone females, as all members are required to verify their identification and previous Couch Surfers will post stories and experiences of the places they have stayed on the website. It is cheap – it costs nothing but the host’s hospitality, and maybe a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates from the visitor.
One impressed Couch Surfing guest, then host is Kirsten from Sydney, Australia: “I had joined Couch Surfing before setting off for Europe and when I was travelling Germany I found it the perfect way to see Munich. I arranged to stay with two guys, who cooked me a fabulous dinner and showed me the sights of the city, which as a tourist you just wouldn’t see. They were knowledgeable and absolutely fun. It was an experience I would definitely recommend.”
In return for the hospitality given to her by the German’s, and to pass on the good karma that couch surfing is all about, Kirsten played host to Nicola from Chicago, USA: “I was studying in Melbourne and really wanted to see Sydney for a few days before I went home. Being a student I was pretty broke, so I checked out Couch Surfing and found Kirsten. I stayed with her for a few days and it was so much fun, seeing the sights and living the Australian life, with Australians rather than with other travellers with whom it’s a very different experience.” Nicola played host to visitors to Chicago later that year, and, as Couch Surfing intended, the cycle of hospitality continues.
So when you’re stuck in a foreign land and need a place to stay, or just a friendly face to show you around, or if you’d like to show someone your own hometown, remember the altruistic hospitality of Couch Surfing, and surf away.
Catering Services International provides hospitality recruitment Dubai and other services to the hospitality, catering and hotel trade.
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