We love to have people to stay and therefore joined couchsurfing.com more than 5 years ago. We also provide digs for the local professional theatre and have had lots of actors, singers and musicians stay with us over the last few years - every Pantomime season we have one of the cast for 2 months which is always a hoot.
This Saturday I offered to provide accommodation for a member of Northern Harmony (northernharmony.pair.com) and we had JC a delightful female baker, lawyer, teaching assistant, farmer, musician, singer and much much more....... as our guest. As Northern Harmony sing sacred and secular music and the concert had been organised by my local Methodist Church I was expecting to settle JC in with a herbal tea at 11pm. At 1am we had cleaned up 3 bottles of wine and a rather fabulous cheese board. We had shared perspectives on American politics, drug issues in high schools, social services / health care provision in the UK vs USA, stories of their tour and weird places they had stayed - my particular favourites were the sex commune in Germany and the mad cat lady in England.
At 8:30am an English cooked breakfast was on the table - black pudding, cumberland sausages, smoked bacon, portobello mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and poached eggs. More great conversation in the hour over breakfast before I had to drop her. Fred had also had a great time with JC - he'd joined me at the concert and we we let him stay up until 11pm when the conversation was turning to more adult topics and it was already way past his bedtime!
My reflection on this fun 12 hours was we always (including Fred) have a great time when we have new people to stay, or stay with others - therefore I wanted to build couchsurfing into our 6 month backpack trip. What better way to get local perspectives and broaden our understanding of the people and the places we are going to visit. We were already off to a good start as friends from France who spend half their year in San Diego are having us to stay, as are my cousin in Sydney and old friend in Canberra.
Since Sunday morning I've been searching and messaging couchsurfing hosts in Canada, USA, Argentina, Thailand, India and Rio. Responses have been quick, and if unable to host they've made recommendations for others in the area who may be able to help.
So we will hopefully get some interesting couchsurfs to mix up with the camper van, motel, hostel and camping accommodation. Thanks to a US / Thai couple for coming back and saying we could stay on their remote farm in northern Thailand - looking forwards to meeting the pigs and chickens in the photos & finding out if the hot tub was really intended for them or they were just having a cheeky moment when the photos were taken!
For me this trip is all about having a great adventure with my family. Its taken years for us to finally stop talking about it and do it - simply because it both excites and frightens the life out me! So I'm stepping out of corporate life, where I singularly failed to achieve a work/life balance....to experience different cultures and spend time with those I love xx