Couchsurfing. It's a thing, I swear.
It's a relatively simple concept: a listing service connects people to each other and helps them find a place to stay during their travels. Members list their couch, spare room or air mattress on the service and allow travellers (whom they have approved) to crash at their place for a night or two, completely free of charge.
It's definitely not for everyone - it's more for the fearless and open-minded travellers who prefer to live on the edge. It requires you to put a lot of trust into people you've never met before, so there's a significant degree of uncertainty in the practice. Still, anyone could participate if they wanted to.
The group behind couchsurfing created the service with the intention of "fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect". They believe that getting to know the locals in the area you're travelling in is an extremely valuable and rewarding experience.
They also take safety very seriously. They even have an entire section just for safety on their website. With good discretion and responsible action, couchsurfing could not only be safe, but also a life-changing experience.
Toronto is home to a lot of couchsurfers who are giving back to the traveller community by listing their own couches to the public. Here are a few of them who are verified members and have received great feedback from past visitors:
"I have surfed, hosted, organized and attended gatherings, met CSers for drinks, been locked in people's homes, and been locked out of people's homes, all the while spreading my love for this project everywhere I go. Can't say I've done it all, but do intend to try if it's the last thing I do."
Learn more about Jason here.
"I enjoy time on my own, and also cherish time with others. I love a good balance. The outdoors, traveling, and new life experiences, music. I want to see the world. I use Couchsurfing to find like-minded people to laugh, sing, and enjoy life with, whether I'm a host or surfing."
Learn more about Matt here.
"If you know the Meyers-Briggs test, well I'm an INTP; I'm rare. So ya, I'm a pretty weird dude, but hopefully it's in a positive way."
Learn more about Adam here.
"Florida bored me and I had a spare Canadian passport so I packed my things, quit my job and have been living it up in Toronto for just over 3 years. I'd be happy to show people as much of the city as I know, or for that matter, explore parts I've never been before. Whether you want a host or just to meet-up for coffee send me a message and we'll try to make it happen."
Learn more about Justin here.
"You name it, I've seen it. I haven't had anyone throw up on me yet though, so..."
Learn more about Samuel here.
"I've travelled alone for a while and it was such a great experience to discover a lot of things about myself."
Learn more about Rafael here.
"I've hosted people, I've surfed in unknown territories and had many wonderful cultural exchanges. It is amazing how this community has grown and how it continues to grow. Our curiosities of the outside world has definitely brought this community together and made it stronger. That's what it is all about mes amies!"
Learn more about Mark here.
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