Couchsurfing: The Craigslist of Travel

On Sunday, I shared stories about Airbnb. In my research, I read about Jennifer Katanyoutanant’s experiences traveling abroad, using Airbnb’s older (grittier?) brother, couchsurfing.com. Katanyoutanant had a disturbing stay with a Roman impostor who tries to get her into bed—literally—but she doesn’t want to give up the prospect of global friendship:

I had been disheartened when Milena emailed two days before I was supposed to show up to tell me she had an unexpected out-of-town emergency. She told me she’d handed hosting duties over to Raul, her roommate. Despite my disappointment, I still felt thankful that she had gone out of her way to help me out.

When I got off at the wrong stop, I had to walk a couple blocks back to where I agreed to meet him. My travel-sized rolling luggage bounced off the sidewalk every couple steps. I was relieved that I would soon get some rest, even if the company had changed. Twenty minutes later, a twenty-three-year-old guy showed up on a moped. He wore a long-sleeve tee that framed his muscular arms but did little to hide his protruding belly. He had small eyes, and a slightly hooked nose. He introduced himself as Raul, and seemed friendly enough.

But I began to worry. I was about to sleep in the same house with a man who was a complete stranger. Maybe this was a really bad idea.

“Hold on to my waist,” he said.

I climbed onto the moped and grabbed his shoulders instead.

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