Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Couchsurfing

One of the greatest tips of frugality that I learned came from Jeff Yeager and it is a beautiful thing called couchsurfing, the gift that keeps on giving. I have been couchsurfing for close to 3 years now and do not plan on slowing down anytime soon. Truth be told I have not made many, if any, extensive travelling trips in the last few years. Instead, during the high tourist season that is Chicago’s summer and fall, my apartment is majestically transformed into the best hostel on the Northside. For absolutely no charge, members that find me request accommodations at my humble dwelling for a pre-determined period of time during their stay in the windy city. Whether for a weekend or a week, I toss them a spare set of keys and voila, they have a place to stay and my wife and I have a rotating block of roomies for a few weeks every summer and fall.

Yes I am alive to tell this tale and every experience has been memorable. Couchsurfing itself is set up on a website similar to facebook. You can create a profile for yourself with pictures and as much details as you’d like to share. There’s also a cool way to verify you’re location, to show other people that you are a real person with a real place to stay, and not in a tent camping out in Lincoln Park. My favorite resource though, is the wall on your profile. It’s the best and most direct way to show other people your references, that you are experienced surfing, and are not a psychopath.

Since I have limited my travel, through couchsurfing I have brought the world to me. I’ve hosted some of the coolest people I have ever met from just about everywhere you can imagine from around the world. Now while every surfer is close and dear in my heart, I have to say that there’s a French couple we hosted this summer that, well, were the paradigm of what is a superb couchsurfing experience. From the moment we all met there was an instant connection as if we had all been friends for years. My wife and I showed them around some of the best sights we knew on the Northside, and they displayed and shared the best tasting culinary skills I can remember. We hung out like old friends catching up, and upon their departure, I admit, was sad to see them leave.

There’s like this common thread that ties couchsurfers together. We’re frugal and when we travel we want to experience a new area, not be tourists. We’re fun, insightful, adventurous and some of the most insightful people you will meet among any walk of life. So yes, this sounds like an endorsement, and no I gain absolutely nothing from couchsurfing for writing this. Aside from anything with “Dave” or “Ramsey” in the title, couchsurfing is one of the best recommendations I enthusiastically endorse J

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