Over the past few years, we have used Airbnb several times to find accommodation for our travels. However, it wasn’t until September 2015 that we had our first Couchsurfing experience.
Since then, we have met many locals on Couchsurfing who have not only hosted us for free, but also spent time hanging out with us. This blog post documents each of our Couchsurfing experiences, most of which have been phenomenal.
HOST #6: WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
The final Couchsurfing experience of our East Coast road trip was in Wilmington, North Carolina. Before our trip even began, we messaged a host in Wilmington named Anna. Even though it was a month before we needed a place to stay and we only had one reference at the time, she accepted to host us.
We spent two nights at Anna’s house, however we didn’t spend much time with her until the morning we left. Before moving on to Richmond, Virginia, the three of us went out to brunch at The Dixie Grill. The food was delicious and the conversation helped us get know our host a little better!
Anna’s charming house in Wilmington, North Carolina
HOST #5: NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
After our original Couchsurfing host in New Orleans canceled on us, we quickly messaged other Couchsurfers to find a place to stay last minute. Of the five hosts we messaged, three couldn’t host us, one never responded, and thankfully the other accepted us. His name was A.J. and he lived in the French Quarter at the end of Bourbon Street!
Our stay with A.J. was the first time we slept on actual couches, rather than a bed (it’s not called bed-surfing after all). However, it is still one of our favorite Couchsurfing experiences to date. All because of the fact that A.J. is one of the most genuine people you could hope to meet.
Here are just a few of the things A.J. did for us: 1) Made us breakfast and ordered us Po-Boys for lunch 2) Took us on personal tours of the French Quarter and City Park and 3) Gave us great recommendations of places to go out at night. Thanks to A.J., our final days in New Orleans were unforgettable.
A picture of us with A.J. in the Sculpture Garden at City Park
OUR FIRST NEGATIVE COUCHSURFING EXPERIENCE
Halfway through our East Coast road trip we decided to fly to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a few days. Like the other stops on our road trip, we planned accommodation a couple weeks ahead of time. This time we found someone to host us for the first two nights of our trip in New Orleans.
However, a few hours after landing in New Orleans our host messaged us to let us know she could no longer host us. To better explain this unfortunate Couchsurfing experience, we wrote a blog post explaining what happened and what we could have done to avoid it:
HOST #4: ORLANDO, FLORIDA
Finding a Couchsurfing host in Orlando, Florida, turned out to be very difficult thanks to Disney World and Orlando Studios. With plenty of tourist attractions comes plenty of Couchsurfing requests, which in turn means very selective hosts.
In the end we messaged four hosts, of which one didn’t respond, one couldn’t host because they were out of town, and two offered to host. We also received an offer through the public trip we created, however the host didn’t seem like the right fit for us.
We chose to stay with our host (Tony) for two reasons: 1) Like us, he went to Penn State and 2) he had great references. Our two nights in Orlando with Tony turned out to be one of our favorite Couchsurfing experiences so far.
Tony loves to host Couchsurfers and really values interacting with his guests. Our first night he made us a pizza from scratch and took us on a personal tour of Orlando which included stops at Krispy Kreme and Total Wine (two things we don’t have back home in Pennsylvania).
Our first time eating Krispy Kreme donuts hot off the line
The following day he made us dumplings for breakfast and shared travel stories with us over wine/cigars at night. He also taught us about Travel Hacking, which is the practice of collecting free rewards points/miles to eliminate travel costs (while I had heard about Travel Hacking before, Tony was the inspiration for us to start doing it ourselves).
MEET UP: SWIMMING IN FLORIDA NATURAL SPRINGS
As mentioned above, two Couchsurfers offered to host us in Orlando, Florida. Even though we chose to stay with one of them (Tony), we ended up hanging out with the other host (Ryan) both days we were in Orlando. Ryan took us to a few of the local natural springs with some of his friends.
The first day we visited Wekiwa Springs State Park with his dog, a friend of his, and another Couchsurfer he was hosting named Savannah. After spending a few hours at Wekiwa, we ate dinner together and then got dropped off at our host’s house. The next day we met up at Rainbow Springs State Park, where we swam for a few hours before sharing a quick meal, then continued our road trip to Ft. Lauderdale.
Rainbow Springs State Park
Swimming at Wekiwa Springs
Our new Couchsurfing friends
HOST #3: CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
When planning our East Coast road trip, the first thing we did was create public trips for each city we were going to visit; then we researched and messaged hosts in each city. Since we were sending requests weeks before we needed a place to stay, we chose to send requests to one host at a time in each city.
When it came time to find a host in Charleston, South Carolina, we messaged a host named James who happened to be the Couchsurfing Ambassador of Charleston (i.e. a highly active member who Couchsurfing chose to represent his local area).
But before James could respond to us, we received two offers from hosts who saw our public trip. One of the offers came from a host named Austin, who lived a short drive from Charleston on James Island (coincidentally, Austin was next on our list of hosts to message).
After talking with Austin through a few messages we decided to accept his offer to host us for four nights. While we weren’t able to spend much time hanging out with Austin (who was busy with school and work), we were able to share a few homemade meals with him. He also took the time to give us excellent recommendations for things to do in Charleston and played the cello for us (he is a professional cellist and performs at weddings with his sisters).
A picture of us with Austin in our semi-private room
HOST #2: TRENTON, MAINE
After a successful first Couchsurfing experience, we decided to try it again on our trip to Acadia National Park in October. This time finding a host was easier since we had a reference from our first host.
Once again we started by creating a few public trips in the local areas, including Bar Harbor and Bass Harbor. However, this time we researched hosts in the area and messaged our top three hosts.
To our surprise, all three offered to host us for some part of our trip. In the end, we decided to go with the host that communicated with us the most in their messages.
Our hosts (Andrew and Brittany) lived in Bass Harbor, Maine, which was just 30 minutes from the entrance to Acadia National Park. After moving the dates of our trip around a bit, Andrew offered to host us for four nights.
Before we even met Andrew, he invited us to his birthday celebration, which was a bonfire in the woods on his friend’s property. That night we met Andrew (and some of his awesome friends), burned a lot of wood, and learned about the local community. The next day we moved our stuff from the cabin we had rented to Andrew’s house, where we stayed for the next four nights.
Andrew and Brittany run the Barn Arts Collective, which is a group of artists whose mission is to “create and encourage community through the practice and presentation of live arts events.” Luckily, we were able to catch a performance at the Barn on our final night in Bass Harbor.
Located in Andrew’s backyard, this is the barn where performances are held
Andrew’s house from the street
Inside the barn
HOST #1: BURLINGTON, VERMONT
We first started using Couchsurfing in September during a surprise birthday trip for Leslie. Rather than buying Leslie a gift for her birthday, Brad planned a trip to Burlington, Vermont. When planning the trip, he decided it was time to give Couchsurfing a try.
After creating and verifying a Couchsurfing profile, Brad created a public trip for Burlington and sent requests to 16 hosts in the area. Of the 16 hosts requested, 7 never responded, 6 couldn’t host us, and 2 said maybe.
Of the hosts who said maybe, one never got back to us and the other accepted to host us. Additionally, we received one offer from our public trip, but we had already found our host.
Looking back, our first Couchsurfing experience could not have gone better. Our host was a University of Vermont student named Emily who had two other roommates. With another Couchsurfer on their couch, Emily offered us her bed for the three nights we spent at their apartment. In their free time, Emily and her roommate Annalena took us hiking at Snake Mountain!
Hiking Snake Mountain with our first Couchsurfing Hosts
Have you used Couchsurfing before? If so, where have you stayed? How was your experience? Would you use Couchsurfing again? Leave a comment below!