How I Never Paid for a Bed for 7 Months
Hey there, Stranger!
I have been obsessed with travel since I got on my first plane to go live in the Czech Republic. I remember walking around in those early winter days between the beautiful pastel buildings in a crowd of people, and getting hit in the face with sonder.
When you realize that everyone around you has as vivid and complex lives as you do.
No, that isn’t a snowball filled with dirt.
A blogger created a word that we don’t have in English ( also I’m a huge word nerd, get used to it. I buff up my vocabulary the way Jersey Shore mates go to the gym). Anyways, to sonder ( which you can’t find in the dictionary but I don’t think it makes it any less valuable) is when you realize that everyone around you has as vivid and complex lives as you do. That each person is its own world. And bleeding into that, how you may never know everything. Something shifted within me. New cells formed, new neurons connected, my chakras were aligned, whatever. I knew I had to spend my life discovering what I didn’t know. I knew it would be a lifetime of exploration, and I was ready.
I hope you feel this feeling someday, stranger. Or, maybe you already have and are aching for more!
That is where we will unite and play together.
I know what you’re thinking...
“Ok, Adrien, what is thise nonsense you are talking about?- I just wanted to learn how to travel without burning through my savings in one night.”
I know you want to travel affordably.
That is the only way you will be able to go farther and for longer, which is exactly what I did.
When I did my first big backpacking trip, I couchsurfed and volunteered the entire time. I NEVER ONCE PAID FOR A BED. That meant all that money I saved by avoiding hostels and hotels afforded me to go to 20 countries during that 7- month trip. And, I only spent 5,000 dollars the whole time. THE WHOLE TIME. I got to see so much more, do so much more, and go to so many more places.
But, take note that this way of traveling is a bit rougher. I’m glad I did it while I was young ( she says as an old, wizened 29- year- old). I slept anywhere–- tents, couches, hammocks, and loft beds. You can get the range of sleeping accommodations by traveling this way. But, all I cared about was saving money, and that actually pushed me to do some way more adventurous things and come out with more stories.
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You have to be strategic about it.
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But before you go gaga for the financial freedom while traveling abroad, I do want to address a few aspects that were out of my control ( and influenced my ability to get a high response rate).
One: I speak English. This is a plus for most people in the world because they want to practice it.
Second: My Gender. I don’t want to play into my gender, but I can’t ignore that it isn’t a factor. We are socialized to perceived women as less threatening and the “softer” sex. That might be why women tend to get a higher response rate on Ccouchsurfing because most of the world believes that women are less likely to fuck shit up ( oh we swear here, is that cool?). Women are perceived as quiet, clean, and more respectful of others spaces ( their words not mine). On the flip side, men are perceived as messy, loud, and physically threatening ( #notallmen).
Both of these are false stories about gender. There are plenty of obnoxious and messy women, and a ton of polite and quiet men.
But it you are a dude, I don’t want you to get discouraged, and I encourage you to try this tactic, as well.
Third: My Race. I cannot deny that being white has anything to do with getting a high response rate; nevertheless, being a white woman has its own set of issues. We are still perceived as less threatening; however, we are also highly sexualized.
I have only bumped into this once while traveling where a host expected more from my visit ( I should have taken his review demographic more seriously. It was all blonde girls). It is important that if you are a woman of any race that you go through male hosts reviews and make sure that there are other women who have vouched for this guy. For me, one bad review on a male host’s account is enough to avoid him. But another warning is to avoid men who ONLY host women- they might be looking for more (such a dance we have to do for our safety).
I digress. Race is understood differently country to country and my American sensitives towards race does feel like it is worth bringing up. But ( from my personal experience) certain areas of the world are much more blatant about race ( which make my American sensitives flair up like an STD). If you have time, try to research how you might be welcomed in certain areas. But for the most part, if someone is on couchsurfing, they are more open minded and open to meeting new and different people from around the world. They are looking for an alternative perspective and deeper conversations and there to help you.
Nevertheless, if someone discriminates against you because of your race, you clearly don’t want to stay with them anyway. If at any point you feel offended or unsafe, please leave. Always have a backup plan and know of some nearby hostels just in case.
So sign up for my email here and get the #1 strategy to have a high response rate so you can travel farther and deeper around the world and return without ( as much) debt.