If there’s one thing preventing folks from traveling as often as they’d like, it’s cost. Even if you manage to snag a great deal on airfare, pricey accommodations can easily push a vacation past your budget. This is probably why Couchsurfing has become so popular.
What initially started as a tiny organization in 2004 has grown into a global community with millions of members. The idea is pretty simple: create an online profile and search for fellow hosts in the cities you want to visit. The site recommends sending about five requests in case your top pick isn’t able to accommodate you. Though not required, it’s also nice to pay it forward by offering up your spare couch or bedroom for like-minded travelers.
As you can imagine, the process leads to some truly unique experiences. We asked some travel-savvy folks to share some of their most memorable stays, for good or for bad.
1. Hosting a freeloader
In Philadelphia, my roommates and I opened our home up to Couchsurfers as an opportunity to get to know interesting travelers from around the world. We all love travel and consider the relationships made along the way a huge part of the experience. After many successful visits and some enduring friendships, we hosted a total dud.
My roommate was busy and didn’t fully vet this guy. We found out he was not a part of the traveling community, but rather a really lazy guy that didn’t want to pay for a hotel room.
He told us that his parents were pushing him to get a job, but he didn’t want to. Instead, he decided to participate in medical trials around the country. “In a nutshell, I’m a lab rat,” he said.
He was in Philly to “audition” for a medical trial at the University of Pennsylvania, in which he would be given experimental drugs, but was ultimately declined.
He spent the entire weekend sitting on our couch, didn’t engage in conversation, and didn’t get out to explore our beloved city in the slightest. It was awkward, to say the least, and my roommates actually had an argument about him within earshot. After that, we decided we’d all have to approve a Coachsurfer before hosting.
Shannon O’Rourke-Migita, account executive at Carma PR