Naperville Native Travels for Free?
Jared Currie is setting his couch up for someone to sleep on for the next couple of nights. The only thing is he’s never met the person before and the only communication they’ve had is through an app called Couchsurfing.
Created in 2004, the app has 14 million members called “couchsurfers.” Currie joined after he learned some of his travel expenses would be free-of-charge.
“Originally I was told by a friend that there was this community of people out there [and] I could stay for free at somebody’s house,” said Currie. “And I was like ‘wow this is a really cool invention’. “I was about to leave for a world trip and I decided to join.”
How Some Gain Trust for a Couchsurfer or Host?
But trusting a stranger can be difficult, which is why hosts and surfers provide their address, phone number and several photos of themselves. There are also public references on a person’s profile to see what others surfers and hosts say about them.
Longtime member, now ambassador for Couchsurfing, Christine Chung, recommends prospective couchsurfers to have an in-person meet up with those in the community.
“Try to meet someone in a more casual setting first, like maybe see if they’re up to grab a coffee or have a meal first,” said Chung. “And see how meeting people in real life suits you in the community overall. And then if you feel up to it, then maybe you can try surfing and or hosting.”
Chung also uses the in-person meet ups to vet potential guests and hosts.
What Has Couchsurfing Meant For the Naperville Native
Currie has hosted nearly 10 couchsurfers and likes to act as a local guide for them.
“I take them to the Arboretum, to my favorite sushi place inside the H Mart, I take them to Downtown Chicago, and on the riverwalk,” said Currie.
The Naperville resident has traveled to over 15 different countries and found one thing in common throughout all his hosts.
“What I found is that people on Couchsurfing who are interested in hosting others, have a real sense of wanting to show you where they’re from. When I’m hosted by someone, they want to show me all of the great things of where they live,” said Currie.
Offering a place to sleep for priceless memories.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.