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Couchsurfing

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
I know that many of you on here believe that in order for one to be a true pilgrim, one must stay in the pilgrim hostels....with that in mind, I am going to go ahead and throw this question out there.

Have any of you:
1) Heard of couchsurfing.com?
2) If yes, have you used it? (I have and have had great experiences)
3) Would it be bad form to mix up my lodging options and stay sometimes with people through couchsurfing.com and sometimes in pilgrim hostels?

The reason I ask is I plan to leave around mid-April 2010 and with it being a holy year, I know lodging will get tight the closer I get to Santiago. I do not want to carry extra weight in the form of a sleeping pad or bivy sack and was looking at other options of places to stay.

I am a little bit unconventional in my travel style sometimes and usually have quite a good experience when I just open myself up to whatever happens. Just curious if anyone has explored couchsurfing.com as a viable alternative to pilgrim hostels.

Thanks!
 
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MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
Couchsurfing alternatives should not be ignored. This is something that you should feel comfortable with; it may even enliven your Camino!

As an aside, I think you will find a minority that think that pilgrims must strictly adhere to staying in the albergues. The majority of us to strive to be pilgrims see the journey is more about what is happening in your heart than in where you sleep at night. There are certainly great benefits in being surrounded by other pilgrims in the evening, breaking bread together, and sharing in the conversation; however, many of us value getting to know the locals as vital.

Follow your heart and don't be too concerned about what others think. I hope this helps.

Bon Chemin,
 

elzi

Active Member
Your camino is your own experience - don't worry about anybody telling which is the "right" way to do it. If you fancy couchsurfing give it a go!

I'm not sure how it works exactly but I'd be amazed if there are people with couches exactly en-route, you maybe have to think about how you hook up with them i.e. are you going to walk several km off-route, pay for buses/taxis back and forth etc. You might feel after walking 20+km it's easier to collapse in the albergue by the roadside, that said the idea of enjoying home comforts and hospitality in a local house sounds lovely!!

Also important if you're not in staying in the albergues you need to remember to get your credential stamped regularly (bars, churches, town halls?) so if you do want to stay in an albergue or in the last 100km get a compostela your credential will be up to date.

Have fun!
 

Caminando

Veteran Member
Elzi is right. Do your camino in any way you like - it's your life, and you don't need approval from anyone.

Since the Middle Ages people have done the camino in any way they could. There were also camino dictators even then, expressing their approval and disapproval of what others did. The more you think about it, the more laughable and adolescent it becomes.
 
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hewink

New Member
I've couchsurfed while traveling and enjoyed every opportunity to meet people from around the world. Often times your hosts are very generous and will do more than expected -- feed you, let you do laundry, shower, etc. You can become lifelong friends with them and later host THEM if they can visit you. I am leaving for the camino in a month (!) and plan on trying to couch surf for part of it - maybe around the Dec. 24/25 holiday if some kind heart can put me up.
(Tried to upload a screenshot of the 1000+ willing hosts ... had troubles ...)
On couchsurfing.com try searching for couches in Spain (search camino under Keywords and click "show couchsurfers on a map") and you can find several, including one family that said they ALWAYS put peregrinos up each holiday.
~h
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
Excellent! I was thinking probably it would be more possible in the bigger cities like Pamplona and Leon, etc. I have had some great experiences couch surfing in the US, so I thought I would give it a try on my Camino.

This has been a dream of mine for so long and to think that it is going to be a reality in 6 short months, just makes me so darn excited! Thanks again for all your advice everyone!
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
There are at least five surf-able couches right on the Camino proper, according to one fine young man who surfed here a month or so ago. Couch Surfers are some of my favorite pilgrims. They know what it is to be in a cooperative household and how to act independently to care for their own needs.

... if only all pilgrims were so grown-up!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Yes, I can see all of the benefits of this, very pleasant indeed, but no one has yet said anything about having to carry that surf board all the way to Santiago!

Or am I missing something? :|
 
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renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
Br. David said:
Yes, I can see all of the benefits of this, very pleasant indeed, but no one has yet said anything about having to carry that surf board all the way to Santiago!

Or am I missing something? :|

I'm sure there's a little sarcasm there, but just in case....couch surfing is a term used when one stays at someone's house, usually sleeping on their couch. They just "surf" from house to house, sleeping on people's couches. :) I have met some really cool people through couchsurfing.com and just recently joined the Camino group on the site, too.
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
Other forums I am on, the moderator has the ability to delete certain posts. Perhaps this thread could use some editing so that it contains the original request for information and the appropriate responses. As much as I detest censoring (especially having some of my posts censored on other forums), I have come to recognize it is sometimes a good idea to keep everyone on topic. Just a suggestion....I really do appreciate all the posts responding to my original question!
 

skilsaw

Veteran Member
Ah Couchsurfing... I remember it well.
One day on the Camino, I came to a bar in a small town... I think it was between Manzilla de los Muelas and San Xulian... but I digress. It was raining and cold so I decided to have Orujo and sit inside, instead of the usual cerveza while sitting outside on the white plastic chairs in the shade. But let me carry on with my story. As I sipped the Orujo I looked around the bar and spied a couch in the corner. It was very inviting so I picked up my drink and moved over to it. As I walked over, the rain on my jacket dripped , and a slurry of cow dung rinsed off my boots onto the floor. The couch was... well, you know the kind... overstuffed and worn out springs. It had seen better days. As I sat down, the cushions enveloped me and I wished never to get up. Ah yes couchsurfing... unfortunately I have an appointment that I must keep so I'll leave the story here, perhaps for another pilgrim with a couchsurfing story to complete.

Until I log on again,
Your faithful pilgrim,
David, Victoria, Canada.
 

ThisIsSpain

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(2015)
Noticed today that there are approximately 1750 hosts JUST in Santiago. It looks as if it could definitely be a way forward for some.

Buen camino a todos.

1,770 Hosts Found
near Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Spain
 
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There's also airbnb.com to consider. Yes, it will involve a cost to stay in other people's home on a B&B basis, but as has already been pointed out there is a value to getting to know local people a little better, while also helping the local economy. I made occasional use of airbnb when on the Via Francigena last year, and I met some really lovely people who seemed to enjoy hosting a 'pilgrim' as much as I enjoyed their hospitality and home comforts.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Pilgrims become accustomed to a high level of trust on the Camino, in part because of the nearly continuous contact with strangers. Airbnb makes that contact a bit one sided. The host is permanently looking for new customers. No one does background checks on the hosts. No one does background checks on the customer. There is a feedback system. The airbnb contract for services is about 55,000 words long, and may be worth reading by both parties! The airbnb service has a rating of just 2.7 out of 10 with TrustPilot. https://www.trustpilot.com/review/www.airbnb.com There is very little municipal oversight of airbnb. In a lot of cities it is illegal under several different consumer protection laws. Many private leases prohibit the lessee from subleasing, so when there is a problem, the entire arrangement is illegal, leaving host and customer both out in the cold.

Airbnb sounds like an interesting idea, but the only real winners are the investment bankers who are promoting it for an initial public offering! For the rest of us, caveat emptor may be the best descriptor.

Apologies in advance for being a Debbie Downer... ;)
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Airbnb is just a commercial holiday letting site - and you have to pay up front.

In saying that I rented a place in Malaga just a few weeks ago through airbnb to have a holiday with my daughter. I found them very efficient with very informative and accurate reviews from past users. I had to confirm my identity in advance and they answered all my questions about the owner of the apartment. I'd use them again. However it is a commercial deal quite unlike couchsurfing.
 
Past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I have a Camino friend in Portland who is an Airbnb hostess and she DOES make a little cash and enjoys meeting people from all over the world.
 
Past OR future Camino
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,2018, (2019)
I only mentioned airbnb as an option to consider. I am aware of Falcon's concerns, but I wonder if they are greater at a personal level than the risks associated with couchsurfing in a stranger's home.
 
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Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
We have couchsurfed from South East Asia to Mongolia to Europe and had the full gamut of experiences. Funnily enough I didn't even consider couchsurfing the camino for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to support local businesses and secondly accommodations are so easily found that we found it to be more convenient to simply turn up and ask for a bed on any given day rather than organising in advance. That said, there is absolutely no reason why you couldn't do it.

BTW, when I say we have had a full range of experiences, they go from our first one where we each had our own bed in a house so big that we got lost in it in Vietnam (and those hosts bought us tickets to the theatre too) - quite different to the family we stayed with in Mongolia which required us to go shopping with the mother a day ahead of moving in and deliver the food to her house, then on our arrival the food had all disappeared and we were sent out to buy coal and wood to heat our ger and their house and were generally ripped off - which was quite different again to the Mongolian family that squeezed us into their own ger and we hardly had room to fit (17 of us in a 5metre diameter tent) but they were so hospitable and we all laughed and laughed together - through to 11 of us bunking down on the floor of a vegetarian professor's two room apartment in Hong Kong - and then there was Berlin where we stayed with an "intentional community" and the kids got the education of a lifetime about why our family has guidelines and processes (in that place no-one did any work and we had to clear the whole kitchen before we cooked any meals which everyone else then happily consumed.....evidently we were the only ones who knew how to clean a toilet or do washing........but one guy did know how to throw up all over our sleeping bag in his drunken stupor! Clearly these were not the ones who have ended up at Rebekah's;-)
 

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