1098 Couch Surfing
Jonathan talks about a new inexpensive way to get a place to stay when traveling.
- Audio Slide Show
Jonathan: Couch surfing is a fairly new website, and what it does is it allows travelers from different parts of the world to meet people in the destinations they're going to. People offer a couch in their home or perhaps space on their floor, and in return you're expected in your own hometown to offer the same kind of things to people who might visit you.
Todd: So basically, people sign up, and if they find somebody that has, you know, a couch in some city, they can go and stay with that person for free?
Jonathan: Yes, it is for free, but people aren't expected to abuse it. It's not for people who are cheap and want to save money. It is for people who are like-minded and want to perhaps share their experiences and meet someone from the local culture. You're not going to have a good experience if you show up and just and expect to freeload.
Todd: So, have you actually done this -- couch surfing?
Jonathan: Yes, I've done it a couple of times. I stayed with a new friend who lives southwest of Tokyo. I went down to the area to see the beach and so on there, and she's become a very good friend of mine. We have a lot in common, and we've gone out several times drinking and such.
Todd: So, you just went to this person's house. You e-mailed them, and they e-mailed you back and they said it's OK for you to come and stay?
Jonathan: Yes, most people who are on couch surfing are very interested in meeting people from around the world, talking about their own local culture or the attractions in their area, and then the person who is visiting, the couch surfer, should do something in return. Tell them about their own country that they're from, perhaps cook a dish from their native country for their host.
Todd: What about security? I mean people a little bit worried about safety and security with this?
Jonathan: I think some people do worry but couch surfing has a system where you an vouch for people which you have stayed with. You can leave references and you can become verified as a host or a couch surfer by registering through the system. So if there's someone that you're a little bit suspicious of, you don't need to offer them a couch. It's not necessary.
Todd: So how do people get started in couch surfing? They just go to the website?
Jonathan: Yes, they can go to the website and they can register. Of course when you start out, if you have no references and no friends people might be reluctant to let you stay at their home, but you can fill out a profile and have friends on the site, in the same way as many social networking sites today that are popular.
Todd: OK, wow, well thanks Jonathan. That sounds pretty interesting.
Jonathan: No problem.
It's for people who are like-minded.
When people are like-minded that means they think alike. Like-minded people have similar interests. Notice the following:
- Even-though we're not like-minded, we are close friends.
- My mother and father are very like-minded.
You can't just show up and expect to freeload.
When a person freeloads, that means they expect many things for free. A freeloader is someone who might live with a person or family and pay for nothing. Notice these examples:
- He freeloads off his girlfriend a lot.
- He was a terrible guest. He stayed for three weeks and freeloaded the entire time.
We have a lot in common and we've gone out several times.
When two people have a lot in common, that means they have many similar things about their lives. For exemple: people with a lot in common might have the same background, hobbies or interests. Notice the following:
- My boss and I have a lot in common, so he likes me a lot.
- Australians and Kiwis have a lot in common.
There is a system where you can vouch for people.
When you vouch for someone, that means you speak for them and say they are a good person. If you vouch for someone, you basically are saying they can be trusted. Look at the examples below:
- I can vouch for Dave. He is a good guy.
- I could not rent the house until my friend vouched for me.
You do not have to offer a couch to someone you are suspicious of.
If you are suspicious of someone, you are not sure about them. When police are suspicious of someone, they usually stop them and ask them questions. Here are a few examples:
- I was suspicious of him, so I googled his name.
- My mother was suspicious of my behavior.