Imagine having strangers sleeping in your couch, sharing your food and invading the cosiness of your home. Don’t think vagabond just yet, because Vizag has opened its doors to travellers who are ‘couch surfing’!
An online community of travellers who give other travellers a place to stay for a night or more, Couch Surfing is a website where people can create a profile and begin their journey into living with strangers in their travels. Consider it an exchange of hospitality; not only to save money for the bootstrapped wanderers but also to spark new friendships with them. Most often it’s for the thrill of getting an insider’s perspective on a new travel destination.
From the 14 million users, there are several from Vizag who have already opened their homes to travellers from different nations as well as far flung states in India. Read on as two users from Vizag share experiences with couch surfers.
“I love surprises; last minute plans and the spontaneity of socialising with new people. I believe in ‘Atiti Devo Bhava’ (guest is equivalent to God). I am a choreographer by profession and I practise Indian classical dance and theatre, something I share with my guests. When I had couch surfers at home I told them about Indian arts and its forms and I learned a lot from them too. I provide a bed and a kitchen and I try to make time to show them around the city. I have hosted quite a few guests from 2017 until now who were from Australia, Germany, Great Britain and Ireland.”
“It’s like an adventure to meet new people and it was thrilling to the ones I hosted. I have had couch surfers from Venezuela, Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, Czech Republic, Punjab, Pondicherry, Goa, Kolkata and Nagpur. My guests were cyclists, bike riders and hitchhikers. After hosting guests, I learned about their culture, city and lifestyle which broadened my mind. I show my guests around town. My family and I share the history of the city and help them try local food. I also share knowledge on Indian traditions and take them to the city’s tourist spots.”
Apart from Air BnB, Couch Surfing has been the leading hospitality cum social network site since 2004. However it is one among many. Sites like Cultree, BeWelcome, Trustroots and MovingWorlds ranked as the best alternatives to Couch Surfing in 2018. With all these options, now its upon you to decide what you like best. So, which of these sites will you choose to convert your abode into a home stay for strangers?