The idea of extending hospitality to like-minded strangers is brilliant. Couchsurfing can foster tolerance, interest in the world around you; it’s a global community.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of it, it’s basically a group of people who communicate through the website http://www.couchsurfing.org to find places to stay, people to hang out with, and travel advice and recommendations.
When people ask whether Couchsurfing is dangerous, I usually say that its similar to any large network of people. There are people of all types, including some not so nice ones. This means you have to be fairly savvy to use the site, but reading reviews and talking to the person you want to stay with/host can help you establish mutual trust.
To anyone considering trying it, I would heartily recommend it. Sometimes securing a place to stay can be difficult. You might not get on with your host. But Couchsurfing is one of those things where, when it works, it really works, and feels so worthwhile.
If the idea of sleeping in a random house is not your thing, local meet ups and events are also a fun way to get involved.
Although I have surfed a little in England, I feel like travelling internationally has given me a much greater awareness of what it takes to be a good host. That’s something I can use when I get home.
I’ve also refined my behaviour as a guest. This changes depending on the host; how outgoing they are, how they like to spend their time and what they enjoy talking about. My favourite way of thanking hosts is to cook for them – I find it a more personal way of giving back a little something.
During this trip I’ve stayed with hippies and hipsters, revolutionaries and ex army, liberals and musicians and marathon runners. They have shown me amazing things; I’m incredibly grateful.