Couch Surfing the World – Doggie Style?

We had never heard of couchsurfing.com until our fellow travel blogger and web-friend mentioned it in a guest post on Dog Jaunt. (Hi Gigi!) We had no idea that this type of semi-organized travel planning existed. The doors couchsurfing opens for affordable travel are incredible.

What is couchsurfing.com?

Couchsurfing.com is a social network for travelers. Rather than searching for people you know, couchsurfing is about finding people you’d like to meet in the places you’re going to visit. Not only can you arrange to meet for a drink somewhere, you can also ask for a place to stay — on a couch or in a guest room.

  • Like Facebook, you fill out a profile on couchsurfing.com. People can find you based on your location.
  • You can choose to offer someone a bed, meet for a drink, or show someone around your town.
  • Travelers can look for free places to stay and learn more about the places they visit.

We are intrigued.

We have not used couchsurfing (yet) but because someone we trust (hi again, Gigi!) has tried it, we are tempted to explore couchsurfing as a solution to our budget restraints and as a way to extend our travel dollars. And now we know couchsurfing can be done with a dog! (Thanks, Luna, for blazing that trail!)

At first the idea of meeting and staying with total strangers seemed odd – even uncomfortable – to us. But it occurred to us that, in fact, that is exactly what we are doing when we travel on October 19th 2012.

I see your eyebrows arched in question, but it’s true!

Although we have been friends with Marlene on Fb for nearly 2 years (Hi Marlene!), we’ve never met in person. Yes, we’ve exchanged small gifts and even had some serious heart-to-hearts online, but we’ve never met, sitting across from one another. Yet here we are, booked and ready to go to Texas (God-fearing, gun-loving, “Bigger is Better” Texas!), accepting Marlene’s generous offer of her guest bedroom as our “Pied a Terre.” Not only that, but Marlene is also willing to be our guide and driver while we visit. This is hugely generous, especially when we consider that we’ve never met! We are so amazed by this kindness and generosity. Meeting Marlene, her husband, and two Chihuahuas is going to be absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to hear her accent and discover Texas with a local!

And you know what? We’ve done the couchsurfing before!

In May of 2012, I flew to Miami to stay with Canine Fashion Goddess, Kiki Hamann. I stayed at her home and enjoyed extraordinary hospitality. Yet, I recall that when Mom and I got off the plane in Miami, Mom looked at me and said, “Wow. You know this is a little crazy.” I know what she meant. We’d never actually met Kiki or her life and business partner, Alex. Sure, thousands of FB fans knew where we were, but as we stood in the warm and humid Miami air waiting for Alex to pick us up, I knew what Mom meant. Here she was, a female, all on her own – with a tiny dog – waiting for a total stranger to pick-her up at the airport and whisk her away, to a house that she did not know, to stay with people she did not know. It was a little scary and ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! So awesome in fact that we are going back to take advantage of that generous spirit for another week in October 2012.

Why is this so amazing? Because nothing gets you feeling more in touch and in sync with a place than having the benefit of living and being with a local. How often have you said to yourself when looking at your own home town, “Oh, that is a tourist trap. I would take them to xyz.” Right? Locals know where the good food is. They know what is really worth seeing. They know what isn’t advertised or mainstream. They know those gems that are out of the way or just kept hush-hush for fear that tourists would come and ruin it forever.

So we are kind of hooked with the concept. We wonder: after Kiki and Marlene, who will be next?

 

11 Comments on “Couch Surfing the World – Doggie Style?

  1. Super!!! You are a true explorers and adventurers who love the world! I’m sure many of your friends will invite you and want you to come visiting! We are already expecting you!!! :)

  2. Yay! Have fun with Marlene – and, yes, staying with locals is the best! And thanks for the shout-out!

    • WE will and Kiki too … the Halloween party alone … Eeeeeek!! ALWAYS a shout-out when I can! and again thank you to you and to Luna for showing us it can be done!

  3. We cant wait for y’all to get here!!! In only 6 hours and I will see your faces and give you bear hugs and dognap Baby Boy!! We are so blessed that you accepted our invite to our humble abode and hope you will all have a wonderful time. I am proud to be a Texan born and bred, so please forgive me if I brag just a little and try to “show it off” as much as possible. Love to all!! GBY!!!

    • We had a fabulous time Marlene!! we Will be back for sure!! THANK you for having us and for all you did for us! we will NEVER forget all you and Stewart did for us during our short visit. I only hope we can return the favour some day!

  4. If you ever want to check out the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection), we have a guest room and a nice dog who likes (or at least tolerates) other dogs. (We just spent a few days with Matilda, a toy poodle-Pomeranian mix and her biped. Matilda and Dino and Matilda were awesomely cute together (even if Matilda was a little bit yappy at times). (I think you saw a few photos of them on my Boomeresque Facebook page.

    My son has couch surfed all over the world and returns the favor in Miami. In fact, he is now in Thailand, having decided on a two month Asia trip after the last person who couch surfed with him was looking for a place to rent in Miami for two months.

    We are having dinner next month here in Philadelphia with an English couple who found me because of a comment I wrote on another blog. I have found “meeting” people via my blog to be one of the most pleasant aspects of blogging.

    • WE ARE so so so sooooo taking you up on this offer Suzanne! I have always wanted to go to Philadelphia and just never made it … now we have an extra reason to go! NICE and thank you!

  5. I have not used couchsurfing.com but we did use warmshowers.com (which is the same thing but for people biking) for our Oregon bike trip with Chester and Gretel. The guy we stayed with was awesome! There were two other people that stayed one night we were there that had found him on couchsurfing.

    • Ooooh! wow that is a GREAT resource! thank you for sharing Jessica! We have never biked (is that motor or cycling?) on a trip but we will not rule it out as a possibility some day! I love that couchsurfing.com is international!

  6. Pingback: Five Places to Look for Inspiration for With-Pet Travellers

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