I did Europe on a extremely tight budget. After the transportation cost of airfare and my eurorail pass, lodging was slated to be the next most expensive thing. So, I set out to find a way to not spend every night sleeping on the train – or more specifically train station.  (Read Italian Train Station Blog)

My daughter told me about couch surfer about 2 weeks before I left. I guess she was really afraid that I might be sleeping on park benches.  I wish I had heard about it sooner.  I really could have lined up a couch surfer for every city.

The best times, the best experiences I had, were in the cities where I had a couch surfing host.  It’s funny how as Americans we are so mistrustful of people.  All my friends responses to couch surfing was “You’re gonna stay with strangers???”  

European homes are so much smaller, than American homes.  We live in 3 and 4 bedrooms homes with only two people.  Hell, I have a 2 bedroom apartment and I live alone.  Europeans conserve space, they often  live roommate style, with 3 or 4 unrelated person per flat.  Bunk beds are used, their bedrooms are half the size of ours.  But yet they open their homes to strangers and share their space.  I was extremely grateful for their hospitality and left feeling awfully selfish.

http://www.couchsurfing.org/

So how does couchsurfing work?  Couch Surfing is a non-profit. volunteer-based worldwide network connecting travelers with members of local communities, who offer free accommodation and/or advice.  Yeah, you saw right FREE.  You can and shouId thank you host/hostess, by being a considerate guest, and with a gift.  In some cases it was buying lunch or dinner, in others a bottle of wine.  But the experience of sharing someone elses culture, first hand was, priceless.

There are safety measure to help you choose who to stay with.  Plenty of references, from other travelers, and profiles of host and the type of accomodations they are offering.  If you are really interested, check out there website, or send your questions to me in a comment.

I had 3 hostessess, who were all wonderful.  I’ve stayed with relatives that didn’t treat me as well. 

Bern HostessBrussels Hostess

Brussels Hostess

 

 

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Me with London Flatmates

I will devote a blog to each of my hostesses.  All 3 of them cooked meals for me, and I have video of 2 of them cooking.  You won’t want to miss that.  So come along with me once more on my European Vacation.

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