Day 187: Couchsurfing in Christchurch
If you’ve never heard of Couchsurfing, it’s a site that allows users to travel to many destinations around the world and stay for free with strangers who may soon become friends. It is literally, at times, staying on someone’s couch. This works really well for singles and small families, as not only do they save on accommodation costs, but they end up making really neat friends along the way who also love the city they live in and are willing to share “insider” secrets.
Of course, the very thought of Couchsurfing had me skeptical, as I imagine there are situations that can be quite tricky, not to mention dangerous, but once I got onto the site, it seemed like there were a lot of great vetting procedures, including past guest reviews.
Initially, I thought it was a great idea, but never thought it would work for our family, as we are two adults and four children. Who in the world would ever open their homes to a family of six? Well…I was wrong. As curiosity got the best of me, I stumbled upon a Christian family in Christchurch who not only would welcome six people into their homes, but apparently, had done this 190 times since 2009! Obviously this was a very hospitable family that welcomed strangers into their home.
So…I contacted the family and Rebekah, the mom, spent the next few weeks interacting with me via Couchsurfing and Facebook. The more we communicated, the more comfortable I felt with the idea. And now, we’re so glad we did this. We got to meet a special family, Craig and Rebekah, and their kids, Jennifer and Joel, who welcomed us warmly into their home, we experienced a few new things that we wouldn’t have otherwise (as they shared a few great tips with us), and we now have new friends. Here we are below, decorating some Pavlova we picked up to sample, as a native New Zealander had highly recommended we do prior to leaving.
Just a few things to note.
1. This was our very first experience with Couchsurfing and it was really nice. That said, we don’t have any other experience with it, so if you do decide to explore the possibility, always take care to check references and do a bit of research first.
2. Also, make sure to contribute somehow, whether it’s by providing a meal or giving a gift. People are opening their homes willingly, excited to meet others from different cultures, but it does cost them in meals they may provide or just extra electricity and water costs. So be thoughtful, take short showers, and share what you have as well.
The above photo was taken as we were leaving. Hopefully they’re jumping from joy that they met us and not from relief that we’re leaving! Thanks again, Craig, Rebekah, Jennifer, and Joel! We hope our paths cross again soon…but maybe next time in Chicago?