Traveling is is an adventure that truly can change your life and make you richer in body, mind and soul. My experiences traveling have changed me and have truly opened my eyes to the world around me. As a person who grew up in a small town in Arkansas, this experiences of stepping out into the big world and exploring, has given me an insight that I would’ve never had staying comfortably back in my life in America.
In 2013 I was introduced to Couchsurfing for the first time. When I first heard the name I laughed, thinking it was some sort of sport. However, after my friend explained the concept to me I laughed even harder and said “that is the most ridiculous and dangerous thing I have ever heard. I would NEVER do that!”
How does Couchsurfing work?
Couchsurfing is a service that is offered that connects people from all over the globe together.
There are three main ways in which you can get the most out of this service:
- Exploring and connecting with people in your own city
- Offering your home without a cost to a traveler that needs a place to stay while visiting your city
- Finding accommodation or a person to meet up with while you are personally traveling to a different city
How can I get started?
The first step is to open your mind to such a foreign idea and just give it a try. Start by completely filling out a profile, which will consist of you writing in detail more about who you are, what you like to do, places you have visited, pictures, a description of your home if you are going to host, time of availability etc.
Once you have that completely filled out, then you can start exploring. There will be local discussions, events and easy access to contact the people that live within close distance to you.
What is a typical experience like using Couchsurfing?
Every experience I have had has been completely different from the other, which is what makes the experience so exciting and addicting. A typical experience of mine usually consists of talking by email, phone or skype with the possible host during a span of 1-2 weeks, depending on if it’s last minute or not.
After I gain some trust with the person, we plan the travel details and I give them the date and place of arrival.Upon arrival the host will either pick you up or give you specific directions on how to get to his or her house.
Once together the activities might include: talking and getting to know each other, a tour of the city, being introduced to the host’s friends or family, trying different traditional foods, cooking together, going on a small trip, concert, or seeing whatever may be going on in the city in the dates you are there.
If the visit is during the week, it’s common that the host will have to work. In that case he or she may decide to give you the keys or will tell you the time in which he or she finishes work so that you can enter in the house. Talk with you host beforehand and work out the little details in order to avoid any kind of complications or misunderstandings.
Read more: COUCHSURFING: A CROATIAN SURPRISE
How do I know who I can trust and not?
There are millions of users on Couchsurfing from all over the world. With that many users, it’s inevitable that there will be people that are not using it for the right reasons, so safety is priority. First and foremost, reading someone’s complete profile is a must.
If you find that someone does not have certain areas filled out and it looks a little sketchy, automatically eliminate them from the search and move on.
Look for people that have an active profile and that seem to have similar hobbies and interests to you. On your profile you are able to add as many pictures as you want, so take a look at the other person’s pictures and get a feel for what he or she likes to do to see if you think you might be compatible.
Both hosts and travelers can obtain references from other hosts, friends and guests and for me this is my lifeline when choosing my hosts. As a solo female traveler, I would say that my biggest suggestion to reduce the risk of problems is by choosing a host with more than 10 positive reviews from both girls and boys. I often look for comments from girls that say “I am a single traveler and I felt safe in his home.”
If someone has over 10 references saying positive comments, you can drastically reduce the risk of something happening, although you can’t completely avoid it.
Read more: COUCHSURFING: TRUST YOUR GUT
Is Couchsurfing Safe?
Just like anything in life, you have to be careful and listen to your heart. I have used Couchsurfing more than 100+ times alone without any kinds of problems. I am aware of the dangers in each and every place that I go and if I have any sort of hesitation I do not ignore it.
Couchsurfing can be an experience that truly changes your life and can introduce you to amazing friendships from all over the world. If you take the safety measures while using this service, you will have the opportunity to meet and connect with all kinds of different people from all over the world and create memories that last a lifetime.
Read more: Couchsurfing- Safely Choosing a Host
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Have you ever used Couchsurfing?
Would you ever give it a try?
Share your thoughts and stories below!
Oktoberfest is one of the most wildest and well known cultural festivals in the whole world. It’s crazy to think that people from all of the world have gathered for over 200 years in Munich to celebrate and share in the Bavarian culture.
Given that I am a festival and cultural lover, I couldn’t possibly go to Germany without working this celebration into my plans.
Given the name, many people automatically assume that Oktoberfest is during the month of October, but don’t be fooled. The festival lasts about 16 days, beginning in the middle of September and finishing on the first Sunday in October.
The dates were absolutely perfect and in line with my birthday on October 2nd, allowing me the chance to dance my night away on my special day.
One of my favorite part of these type of cultural festivals is the chance to see the different Bavarian outfits that people wear. The guys dress up in Lederhosen and the girls in dirndls and there are thousands of different types of outfits that can be seen all throughout the festival.
Many people choose to not wear the outfits, but I found that dressing up was on of the highlights of my experience. If you decide to go all out like I did, these traditional outfits are sold all over Munich and surrounding cities during and leading up to the festivities.
If you plan ahead of time, you can get cute knock off outfits online for a good deal.
Let me point out something from the beginning: you don’t have to LOVE beer to have an amazing and fun experience at Oktoberfest. After many attempts of trying to like beer, I still despise the taste.
I was probably one of the only ones to actually not drink beer during the festival, but that does not mean that I was not dancing and singing the evening away!
There are 14 main tents and each one of them have their own personality and charm and are free of charge to enter. There are some that seat thousands of people and may be very hard to get into, especially the Kafer tent because it closes at 1am, compared to the other tents that close at 10:30pm.
You are able to reserve a table, but in my experience you have to buy a beer in order to sit there, regardless of if you like it or not. Given that I don’t like beer, I ordered a Ridler, which is a very small quantity of beer with lots of lemonade and it was delicious!
Beer is typically 10 euros and sold in quantities of 1L and cost between 12-15 euros.
5 Lessons Learned at Oktoberfest:
- Don’t accidentally leave the tent. This happened to me as a result I was locked out for over an hour from the people that met and had a table with. Sometime you can sweet talk yourself back in the tent, however, there will probably be about 50 other people trying to do the same, so don’t leave once you are inside!
- Bring lots of cash if you plan on drinking (but be careful with this if you plan on drinking too much). Only a few tents accept credit cards, but don’t take your risks.
- Be prepared to sing: memorize some of the lyrics before leaving because you can’t escape this experience without hearing it, so you might as well enjoy and sing up!
- Do NOT wear open toe shoes. There will be thousands of rowdy and excited people dancing all over the place, so don’t take a chance of one of them getting too excited and jumping on your toe.
- We are generally told to never put our feet on the table right? Well at Oktoberfest this is NOT the case. If you put your foot on the table here it shows that you are about to attempt to chug an entire 1L stein of beer, so get prepared for all eyes to be on you.
Typical food at Oktoberfest:
- Brezl/Brezn: Pretzel.
- Hendl: Roasted chicken (yummy).
- Schweinshaxe: Pork knuckle.
- Spätzle: Egg noodles typically served with cheese
- Kartoffeln: Potatoes.
- Weisswurst: White sausage, which is typically eaten for breakfast.
- Cost: free
- Transportation: easily accessible by metro or by foot.
- Accommodation: don’t plan on arriving the week of Oktoberfest and finding centrally located accommodation at easily and at normal prices. Prices drastically increase and availability is difficult. Many people book 6-12 months in advance for a good location, so don’t show up and be surprised.
→ You are NOT allowed to sleep outside the festival, like many other festivals. I saw people trying to attempt this and they were instantly escorted away by the police. ←
- Attire: Lederhosen for guys and dirndls for girls.
- Important words:
Ein Bier, bitte: A beer, please
A Maß: a litre of beer
- Overall opinion: I had an amazing experience and recommend it to anyone at least once! However, you you don’t like crowded and loud places, this is NOT your festival.
Don’t forget to check out:
Have you ever attended Oktoberfest?
How was your experience?
What was the best festival you have ever attended?