When you think of places you’ve visited, do you remember the sights–or the people? In this article, it was the latter that made the lasting impression: I couch-surfed across America.
The vivid and quirky cast of Couchsurfing hosts the writer encounters provide enough fodder for its own TV sitcom. An excerpt:
Bill, our host in Duluth, described himself in his profile as a Zamboni operator and freelance detective. In reality, he manned the graveyard shift at an assisted living facility and supplemented his income by donating plasma on the weekends. With the decline of the Iron Range, he explained, blood was now the city’s largest export. This was also false.
It goes to show that there’s no such thing as a standard couchsurfer (or standard American, for that matter). Along the way, writer Tim Murphy goes through the highs and lows. The highlights include flying in a WWII-era plane over the Mississippi river, followed by being treated to dinner.
One of the recurring challenges was finding hosts to stay with in popular big cities. Being in high demand, these hosts can be super-picky:
Nearly every profile I looked at in San Francisco stipulated that requests must be sent well in advance—and write a real nice letter, too (one profile asks for “a touch of humor and/or flattery”), because they get 20 requests a day and won’t take just anyone.
Have you done couchsurfing or homestays with locals? What were the pros and cons of doing that? Please share your experiences in the comments.