It’s almost May and many local college students will be graduating. It seems to be tradition for the recently graduated to go backpacking, usually in Europe. Funds are acquired from congratulatory cards and proud relatives and off we run to Europe to celebrate before entering the real world of bills and a 9-5 job. However, backpacking can get expensive. I found this myself when I started planning my trip to the UK (I just got back on Monday and have now conquered my jet lag).
Last September a friend of mine moved to the UK and I decided I was going to visit her. I began planning a trip that spanned the entire UK going to London, Nottingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, and Cardiff. I’m not rich, so after purchasing my ticket I researched ways to travel cheap. I loaded up my kindle with travel guides to Great Britain & Ireland from the library, but this didn’t help with low budget accommodations. Even hostel prices can add up when you’re spending two weeks traversing a whole country. I was a little worried … and then I stumbled upon couchsurfing.net.
Couch Surfing is an online community where you can connect with people around the world and ask to stay on there couch… for free! You can also offer your own couch to travelers or just show them around town and grab a cup of coffee. Couch surfers will leave reviews, both negative and positive to let other couch surfers know about there experiences, and it can help you decide who to stay with. You can also get verified for a minimal fee and the site will do a background check on you, letting other surfers know that you’re felony free. I decided this would be an adventure. I ended up couch surfing in 3 different cities and I do not regret the decision at all! Not only did we save money that would otherwise be spent on a hotel we also got to meet variety of people we never would have staying in a hotel.
In Edinburgh there were several other surfers staying at our host’s apartment and we met people from all over the world. Three girls from China made us some delicious, authentic Chinese cuisine and taught us to use chopsticks. A young guy from Japan was traveling the world and had been to over 30 countries in the last 2 years. We also met a large group from Brazil who were currently studying in Portugal. In Belfast we met three German Au Pairs who were hitchhiking across Ireland before returning to Cork. Many people think of seeing all the amazing tourist attractions when they travel,
To anyone planning their own international adventures check out couch surfing as well as our extensive travel collection here at the library.