The end of my couchsurfing days

Back in November, I hosted Ka Ho (who went by Leo), a couchsurfer from Hong Kong, in my home in Fishtown, Philadelphia.

Now my girlfriend is moving in, and, as she is somewhat less keen than I am to welcome strangers into our home, he’ll likely be my last couchsurfer. He was sweet and curious, a fine final guest to host.

Initially I mostly only couchsurfed myself, using the community to find free places to crash anywhere I traveled. My first experiences were part of a backpacking trip through western Europe in late 2008. (I wrote an Inquirer story about my first). Then when I bought my first home in 2009, I knew I’d have the chance to return the favor.

I welcomed people from Scotland and Germany, from Brazil and Japan, from France and China, from Nigeria and Spain, and many more. Most often, they’d quite literally get a couch, the pullout in my living room. My home isn’t particularly lavish, but it is a real place in Philadelphia, and I make up for the lack of amenities with eagerness and charm.

More recently, my girlfriend and I have used the Airbnb service to find paid opportunities, which tend to be somewhat nicer. We did that for the first time in Birmingham, Alabama back in 2012. Both services have a similar spirit: meet real people who live in that place you’re visiting for a chance at real insight.

I’ve loved my time on couchsurfing. I’ll miss it, and I’ll always be thankful for it.

Couchsurfing in St. Louis

Due in Columbia at the University of Missouri for an invite-only journalism roundtable starting Sunday evening, I took the opportunity to fly into St. Louis a day early to explore the Gateway to the West.

I’m sure glad I did.

I arrived Saturday afternoon and was met by my couchsurfing host Alan (read about couchsurfing and my first experience with it a few years ago here). That started a night and a Sunday morning exploring what was the country’s fourth largest city a century ago. Facebook photos here.

Let me share a quick itinerary of the cool things I got to do and see:

Continue reading Couchsurfing in St. Louis

Inquirer: My first couch surfing experience

A full-length travel story of mine focused on the five year anniversary of at first destined for the Philadelphia Inquirer last January never found a home there. After a back and forth, I went another direction and it got a tad stale for the daily’s travel editor.

So, because I’ve shared other stories that didn’t run as planned, I’ll do so today. Additionally, as always, I also like to share some grafs that were reworked and items I cut from my original story, which also can be seen below.

Continue reading Inquirer: My first couch surfing experience