NOTE: “Couch Surfing”, “Couchsurfing”, and “Sofa Surfing” are terms that are used interchangeably.
Wikipedia: Couchsurfing is a neologism (newly coined term) referring to the practice of moving from one friend’s house to another, sleeping in whatever spare space is available, floor or couch, generally staying a few days before moving on to the next house.
- A cheap form of lodging used mainly by college-students or recent college-grads, where one stays on acquaintance’s couches rather than a hotel.
- What someone who can’t afford rent on their own and/or can’t find roommates quick enough does when they are “between” places
MacMillan Dictionary: Couch surfing is traveling on a budget, using a broad network of contacts in order to get overnight accommodation for free, or at as little cost as possible.
Collins Dictionary: The practice of sleeping overnight in the houses of friends or fellow members of a social network, esp as an alternative to staying in hotels, hostels, etc.
CouchSurfing.org: A website devoted to connecting couch surfers with hosts.
Now for MY definition:
Couch surfing, aka “sofa surfing”, is staying with relatives, friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, friends of relatives and/or new friends (aka CouchSurfing hosts) as free lodging. The accommodations can be a guest room, a couch, or simply floor space. In exchange, proper couch surfing etiquette is to contribute to your host’s household to help offset the $5-$10 per day of utilities used. This can include contributing food to a meal, helping cook, wash dishes – basically being a good guest! If staying more than 1 or 2 nights, then the contribution should be expanded, such as running errands for the host, doing laundry, helping around the house or yard, etc. The specifics are worked out on a case-by-case basis between the surfer and the host.
Neither couch surfers nor hosts have to be part of any formal structure. These wonderful connections happen in any way imaginable! So if you have a guest room, couch or floor space and someone has a need, and you reach an agreement as to when, where, etc., then a couch surfing experience has occurred!
The value of couch surfing has many levels (as described on CouchSurfing.org):
- Travel the World: With Couchsurfing, you can stay with locals in every country on earth. Travel like a local, stay in someone’s home and experience the world in a way money can’t buy.
- Rediscover Your City: There’s a community of Couchsurfers near you. Many cities have weekly language exchanges, dance classes, hikes and dinners. Make new friends.
- Become a Host: Give back and open your home to travelers. Learn about a new culture first-hand or practice a language. Make the world a little smaller; a little friendlier.
- Couchsurfing is a global community of 6 million people in more than 100,000 cities who share their life, their world, their journey. Couchsurfing connects travelers with a global network of people willing to share in profound and meaningful ways, making travel a truly social experience.
I hope these definitions help you, my valued readers, understand how I am traveling and why I chose this method! —Kip