Starting August 9th I’m taking off on an adventure. A long flight from NYC will land me in St. Petersburg, Russia, where I will then begin backpacking for the follow 22 days towards London – by myself. I have never traveled on my own before, and have a fearful excitement when envisioning the trip. Regardless of the truth that the road I’m soon traveling is one well tread, it’s an uncharted sea in my mind.
I find the greatest obstacle encountered when traveling to be finding accommodations. And there are many factors that play into this. Price, location, and safety are definitely the most thought of, though. One can find a safe place to stay in a good location, but then the price is very high. Just like a place that is low price but very safe is often in a bad location. Simply put, it is very difficult to satisfy all three.
When planning my trip, I originally intended to stay in student hostels. Low cost accommodations that pepper the European maps and are the go to choice for budget travelers. But even with student hostels, I was constantly running into the three factors of price, location, and safety. The cheap ones all seemed to sketchy, and some of the more expensive ones in good locations didn’t appear safe either. So I decided to try redefining my problem – why not give myself a $0.00 budget for accommodations during the trip?
I had heard of Couchsurfing before, but never tried or hosted. How it works is that if you have a couch of your own, you can create a profile on Couchsurfing.org and host travelers. Additionally, if you are traveling, you can create a profile and see who has open couches at your destination.
When I first typed in St. Petersburg, within a few seconds I was given a list of 21,920 different hosts in the city. Everyone of them with a profile, pictures, ratings from previous travelers, details on their experience with Couchsurfing, and more. There are people who are artists, engineers, married couples, university students, social workers, bankers – all though with a common tie of a hospitable character and adventurous spirit.
I have posted notices of my travel plans in every city that I plan on visiting – the map below shows my itinerary. If successful in my goal, I will have traveled from the eastern edge of Russia all the way to the English Isles, staying nowhere but in the homes of strangers.
If any one knows anyone in the listed cities who I may be able to stay with please let me know!
Cities: St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas, Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam.