Posted by: 2girls2europe | June 16, 2011

Can I have yo’ couch?

I knew that Jessie and I would get along on this venture, because we have similar interests. Nerdlets? Check. Harry Potter zealots? Check.  Dashing good looks and charisma? Check and check.

(That's me on the left.)

But one of our most important shared interests has manifested itself in the form of our housing arrangement for the majority of the trip: not getting raped.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment and explain.

When she and I first conceived this brilliant scheme to travel abroad, blogging and documenting our adventures together, we wanted to stay with folks we knew. Besides the added advantage of cutting cost and hassle, we also thought that it would help us to see a more authentic side of our destinations.

Now for today’s hippie backpackers, the obvious choice is couch surfing. You create an online profile, host some passers-through on your own futon, and suddenly you have the key to the world’s sofas at your fingertips.  Such a Kum-bay-yah notion, I think. As we hunted for places, sending out frenzied Facebook status calls for help, the resounding shout of “Couch surfing!” inevitably came about. But as 2 girls (2 Europe), we got a little skeeved by this idea. And when I feel a skeeve coming on, I listen to it. So instead, Jessie and I used the resources at our disposal to locate trustworthy people with whom we had some kind of affiliation as our hosts.

Drawing from our experiences as free accommodation hunters, we offer the following advice:

1. Pimp out your friends.

Seriously. Everyone knows someone who knows someone who’s studying abroad/working/on a spiritual quest/ finding him/herself in Europe. Even if these connections cannot provide you with housing in said location, at least they can offer some thoughts on attractions and what not to see and avoid. And most helpful of all, what costs a ton and what you can do on the cheap.

2. If in a university setting, talk to professors who have an international focus of research or background in other countries. Or exchange students.

In this way, Jessie and I got lucky. We know several journalism professors with contacts in countries we had on our list. Our Leipzig host is a friend of an international student at Ohio University. Again, even if these connections do not provide places to stay, they can still serve as emergency contacts should something go wrong.

3. Chat it up.

If your trip resembles ours at all, your itinerary will change…and change… and oh yeah. It will change. Keep your hosts in the loop, especially of your departure and arrival dates. Thank them constantly, as you would someone who just gave you a job or a puppy. As awkward as it might be, offer to Skype chat them. This can allay any concerns that you or they might be having about the visit. Especially if you are as cute as Jessie and me. If not, do not use the video feature. Hide yourself.

4. Prepare to come bearing gifts.

Something small will go a long way. Jessie’s planning on bringing Terrible Towels for all of our hosts. As a non-Pittsburgh-sports fan (or any sports fan at all really), I do not understand their significance—hopefully they will. I will probably bring postcards of Athens. Again, thank them for the great service they’re doing for you. Kiss their feet, essentially.

5. Have back-up plans.

Remember, even the best-laid plans do not always work out. If people cancel or the situation just does not prove feasible, consider other housing options or hostels. Anything is better than a park bench. The key is to be flexible. And we don’t mean physically.

Gina

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Responses

  1. I like your attitude, and you speak quite chaste, I like it. And really smart’n’quirky )


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