Why over 40?
I don’t know. It’s just a random age.
Frugal travel is, of course, for everyone so inclined. I figure that young people are already all over this idea so I’m putting it out there for those of us over (or way over) 40.
I know for myself, increasing age made me wary about money-saving and people-meeting opportunities like Couchsurfing.
If It’s Free, Can It Be Safe?
“Me? In a sleeping bag on the floor? I’m not 20 any longer and anyway, I can’t remember that far back.”
I’m not anti-floor. I have slept on those surfaces in the distant past, but my bias currently is pro-mattress.
Hotels, okay. Airbnb, okay. Yet somehow, a free place to stay in some random person’s house, seemed – kinda weird. Iffy.
(I know – not entirely logical. If some random person puts photos of their house up on a website and want payment for staying there, that seemed legit in my mind. But if they offer that space for free? Couldn’t be, right?
Ah – the damned budget. If you don’t have any budgetary concerns, I’m a tad envious. But you probably wouldn’t be reading this post anyway if money were no object.
“How much for that hotel/motel/b&b room?”
I love to travel, but the rest of my life takes money too.
Then, a couple of years ago a friend my age converted me to the couchsurfing crowd. For her, It’s an idea that makes total sense for everyone, regardless of age. Both as host and guest, she’s an active participant in the couchsurfing experience. “When I look for a place to stay, I filter by age group. In my experience many older people are empty-nesters who enjoy the company of travelers. Their children are grown up, moved away, and they have spare bedrooms they make available to CSers.
And it’s safe. I only stay at places that have many reviews.”
I did as she suggested, and it worked brilliantly.
I visited England and Scotland in 2014 and along with a network of wonderful women from the organisation Women Welcome Women Worldwide (5W), my couchsurfing experience enhanced an already memorable vacation.
Part of my Scotland experience, birthplace of my paternal ancestors, was for genealogical research in Dundee. Couchsurfing led me to the house of a congenial grandfather whose extra bedroom was offered to CSers when his grandson wasn’t visiting.
His CS profile had pages of positive reviews from university students and older folks alike. I couldn’t have hit upon a better first experience with CS.
Before my arrival, he went over to the local library where much of the genealogy archives are stored, dug up information for me about my grandparents and great-grandparents, and even found out the street where their house had been located (it’s now a lane).
When I arrived, he picked me up at the train station and drove me around so I could see for myself the areas my paternal family is from. With the limited time I had available in Dundee, I would never have found one of the neighbourhoods where my great-grandparents lived without Jim’s help.
We had interesting conversations about the Scottish independence vote that was to take place shortly, the U.K.’s position in the EU, genealogy and, obviously, couchsurfing.
You get a chance to “like a local” (I know, overused cliché, but it’s true). And you discover areas and events you may not have found on your own.
I am now a couchsurfing convert.
Do your homework first, check the reviews and choose your spot.
I hope you’re as pleasantly surprised as I was.