Were you wondering how to meet up new people in the new country or city which you’ve just arrived to? So, besides our monthly MeetUps, there are of course several different ways. Let’s find out more about one of them. Learn something about couchsurfing.
How it all started?
Couchsurfing began in 2004 as a small passion project by founders Casey Fenton, Daniel Hoffer, Sebastian Le Tuan and Leonardo Bassani da Silveira. An email to a group of students in Iceland gave birth to the idea that people anywhere would want to share their homes with strangers (or, as they like to call them, “friends you haven’t met yet”).
How it looks like now?
Couchsurfing is currently a global community of 10 million people in more than 200,000 cities who share their life, their world and their journey. Community connects travelers with a global network of people willing to share in profound and meaningful ways, making travel a truly social experience. They are acting in accordance to 5 basic values:
1. Share Your Life
Couchsurfing is about sharing your life, your experiences, your journey, your home, your extra almonds or a majestic sunset. They believe that the spirit of generosity, when applied liberally, has the power to profoundly change the world.
2. Create Connection
Connection makes us happier: we need more of it. Connecting with and accepting the kindness of “strangers” strengthens our faith in each other and helps us all become better people.
3. Offer Kindness
Tolerance, respect and appreciation for differences are embodied in kindness.
4. Stay Curious
The community appreciate and share a desire to learn about one another, about the world and about how they can grow as people and become better global citizens through travel.
5. Leave It Better Than You Found It
This applies to the world, to relationships, to the host’s home or to the sidewalk you meander down on your way to the coffee shop. The idea is to make the world better, to enhance each other’s lives and to become stronger in that purpose by coming together.
They envision a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection. Couchsurfers share their lives with the people they encounter, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect.
How can you contribute to the community?Travel the world:
With Couchsurfing, you can stay with locals in every country on earth. Travel like a local, stay in someone’s home and experience the world in a way money can’t buy.Rediscover your city:
There’s a community of Couchsurfers near you. Many cities have weekly language exchanges, dance classes, hikes and dinners. You can make new friends everywhere.Become a host:
Give back and open your home to travelers. Learn about a new culture first-hand or practice a language. Make the world a little bit smaller, and a little bit friendlier. As you’ve probably noticed, couchsurfing isn’t just a way to find a free place to stay. You can also use it to meet people without having to sleep on anyone’s couch. When you search for a city on the site, you’ll land on a page that features events and groups alongside the couch search. From there, you can find popular events to attend, including concerts, drinks, and general Couchsurfing meetups. You can also join groups based on your interests, like movies, clubbing, or surfing. Topical groups and events are a great way to meet people with similar interests. Having common hobbies or passions can be a great help to starting a friendship.
Couchsurfing in Prague
The couchsurfing community is very active, and not only on Internet. Tuesday Toast, a group organized by Petra Brymová, has meetings that take place in different bars in Prague. Despite its name, not all meetings are on Tuesdays. The group can be contacted over Facebook if you are seriously interested in the topic.
“Approximately 15 to 20 people come to each meeting,” Brymová says. “I prefer regular events when people are able to meet every week and be able to create real friendships, rather than going to one big event in the month and meeting 100 people at once, and then in the end you are actually left with nothing.”
People interested in couchsurfing have a variety of reasons for going to meetings.
“This is a good way for me to keep up my English level because as a student I don’t have a lot of time to travel. This is a great way for me to get to know new cultures,” one person said.
She is still planning to travel, but hasn’t yet. She wants to learn about different culture before she starts. She said she has met so many people at the meetings that she knows that one day when she starts to travel around she will definitely have many places to stay at. Another couchsurfer said the Tuesday meetings were a great place for meeting expats as well as local people:
“It already has become like a regular meeting with your crew, but besides seeing them you also meet new people.”
The atmosphere at the meetings is nice and open and at the same table you get to meet people from different continents and learn about their lives and traveling experiences.
“It is way better then clubbing,” said Andre, who declined to give his last name. “And you still have a chance to get a drink if that is what you are looking for.” In Prague, after all, beer is cheaper than water. “But that’s not the main reason why we are here,” says Jorge from Venezuela. He has been couchsurfing for five years now. At the moment he lives in Prague, but he honestly says that he doesn’t know where he will be next year. “I came here by luck and got a job in advertising, also by luck. I enjoy Prague a lot.” He says he attends at least two meetings per week because like most couchsurfers he enjoys meeting new and different people.
For the guest, couchsurfing is certainly a special kind of experience, a new and different memory to take home after the trip. The accommodation and atmosphere can actually be as comfortable as it is at home. Some couchsurfing hosts also like to offer sightseeing tips or even act as tour guide. Hosts are often born and raised in that town, or at least live there for some time. They can be better tour guides than the professional ones, not to mention the free-tour guides. If you are offered guidance through the city, your host will surely show you things and places that you are personally be interested in.