Traveling with a partner has some great advantages, but fresh conversation isn’t necessarily one of them. After three months with only one other person to talk to, we both needed some contact with other people. So, in beginning this journey, we decided it is important to go out of our way to meet people on the road. Today, we left our comfort zone and went to a local meet-up group. This particular meet-up was organized by the local couch surfing community for some food, drinks, and fun.
We have been members of Couch Surfers for several years now and have really enjoyed the community. It is a website that matches travelers looking to meet people on the road with locals willing to offer them a free place to stay. We have actually never surfed, but we have hosted eight groups of surfers in our home. It was a great way to meet others who’ve made travel a big part of their lives. Not only that, but we got to be a part of their journey through our part of the country.
Each of our guests had unique and interesting stories to share. For example, we met one young man from Portland who had Asperger’s syndrome. He was visiting Eugene to go to the Country Fair, an annual hippie fest out in the woods. He told us he looked forward to it every year because the people were so understanding and accepting of his condition. Then there was the Chinese couple who were on their way to Utah to start graduate programs in modern dance. We took them to the coast to go crab fishing, and they shared some of their performances with us. And of course there was the young woman from Australia who got proposed to by strangers in Morocco. They brought camels to her hotel room and everything. All of our guests were great, and we would welcome them back in a moment.
Couch Surfing Meet-up #1
It was this sense of camaraderie and openness that led us to check out the local Couch Surfing Meet-up. Of course, being the responsible young adults that we are, we showed up right on time. Disappointment set in when we found out only one other person showed up. He was a nice kid from Portugal studying computer science as an exchange student. We talked for a while, sharing our travel stories over beer and getting to know each other. Behind us, others started trickling in. Then more. Then even more. In the end, the restaurant was packed full with over thirty couch surfers and hosts!
I started off sitting with Josh at a table with a local Malaysian who has been with couch surfers for ten years, a woman from the UK traveling through SE Asia alone and fearless, and a man from Taiwan working in KL. Like us, not one of them were currently surfing or hosting, but had done so before. After dinner, I moved and joined a table full of Germans who were working on a Master’s program in a town a little North from KL. We talked travel, beer, and politics. Despite our limited budget and social skills, we stayed out quite late to enjoy an evening with all of these interesting travelers. On par with the rest of our KL experience, one of the amazing KL locals even offered us a ride home.
Couch Surfing Meet-up #2
This week, we headed over to dinner after our adventure at the KL Tower. There weren’t nearly as many people this time (around 20), but the conversation was still lively and we met some awesome people. There was a young man from Iran who is taking his first trip to the USA this summer to the amazing state of Wisconsin. We also met two vacationers from India and Italy, and a digital nomad from France.
We will not be able to attend the meeting next week and are already having a little bit of #FOMO. Despite being a little out of our comfort zone, we will definitely start making these events a bigger part of our travel experience. Not only is it good for our collective sanity, but it’s really what travel is all about, meeting and sharing with people from all over the world.