A surprise trip to the US, to New York and San Francisco, has changed my plans for this summer. Between my daughter’s dream to go to the Roger Waters concert “The Wall”, her being invited to a Thiel Fellowship (20 Under 20) summit in San Francisco and my desire to meet more of my education related contacts worldwide, my husband has surprised me with a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, in the form of a flight ticket to the US with my daughter.
This was a different travel for me, as I didn’t have too long to schedule meetings, and I found myself having a relaxed time between just a few meetings. I even had time to play tourist in California for 3 days, experience Couchsurfing for the first time ever at the house of Hillary and Marcus in Santa Cruz and drive to Monterey and Carmel.
Since I am developing a new startup now, that has a lot to do with knowledge and curiosity, every little thing plays a part in creating an inspiration. A friend has suggested I look at Couchsurfing when I had trouble finding accommodation for our stay in the West Coast. He did not know how wonderful a suggestion I found it. My favorite kind of tourism is People Tourism. The kind of tourism that allows you to meet local people, talk with them, spend time with them, and learn about their places through their eyes. You learn about the problems and challenges, as well as advantages and “secret best”… And it’s always a great opportunity to make new friends.
Couchsurfing is a term used for people moving about from one friend’s couch to the other. The company, however, started as a tourist service in 1999. Wikipedia tells that The Couchsurfing project was conceived by Casey Fenton in 1999. “According to Fenton’s account, the idea arose after finding an inexpensive flight from Boston to Iceland. Fenton randomly e-mailed 1,500 students from the University of Iceland asking if he could stay. He ultimately received more than 50 offers of accommodation. On the return flight to Boston, he began to develop the ideas that would underpin the Couchsurfing project.”
Obviously the immediate reaction I got from my closest loved ones was “they must be serial killers”. It made me wonder why would people perceive Couchsurfing hosts as more dangerous than, say, AIRBNB hosts? I think that the fact that people open their house to perfect strangers and on top of it do not ask for a financial compensation – that, apparently, is perceived as an act of a crazy person, there for leading to the perception there are social deviations on Couchsurfing.
In a way, Couchsurfing isn’t that different from Wikipedia. People sharing knowledge – people sharing their roof. In fact, on so many of our daily surfing we share. We share our lives on Facebook. Our thoughts on Twitter. Our photos on Instagram. We share our travel plans and experiences and reviews. We share entertainment and games. We share shopping experiences. We share, reach out and touch strangers and, well, it feels good to extend the human touch.
Now back to work on my new venture. Sharing learning.