Jun 11, 2012

Couch Surfing and So Much More

Hi!  It's Valerie here, coming to you live,
well almost live,
(live a couple weeks ago)
at my very own Patisserie
(I have no idea what a Patisserie is)
from London...

I'm a natural born traveler.

So of course in my 25 years of parenting, it was of great importance to me to teach my children how to travel.  Safe-like and all that.  To love your hometown whole-heartedly but know, really know what's out there in the rest of the world.  Because there's no place like home.  You need a home to come back to, don't go burning any bridges or anything, but if you don't get away from home, you are stagnant.

So it's been of great importance to teach my young how to fly......
 First stop:  America.  We took our kids to the big cities in America to learn how to navigate the subways, taxis and buses..... errr... and other mobile things.

And we took them across the country to see that America is truly beautiful.  You don't have to travel abroad to see beauty and natural wonders.

And we taught them that as there are many different landscapes and people groups, there are also many different modes of transportation.  Yeah.  They were real thrilled about that one.

OK, so my husband was in charge of the backpacking lessons.

So as my final baby was preparing to leave the nest, I freaked.  Maybe I didn't teach her something.  "Don't take candy from strangers!" I yelled.  "Look both ways before crossing the street!" I reminded.  "Don't forget to clean the dryer lint frequently!" I implored.
Then I remembered:  I didn't teach her how to navigate transportation in a foreign country!  What if she decides to go to Europe??  She's not prepared!

So we took off.....
.... For Europe.

My first-born went to Europe (twice) without us, without any parental instruction, and I was a nervous wreck the whole time she was gone.  I wasn't going to put myself through that again.

The last time I went to Europe, we couch-surfed in Munich and it looked a lot like this:

Couch surfing is not for the feeble.  You have to trust people and be able to sleep under any conditions.  But trusting strangers is the hardest part. Couch Surfing is great because, of course, you can save a ton of money.  Couch Surfing is free.  But it's also great because you get to meet a local and greatly enhance your travel experience.  Locals can help with language issues, can give you great tips on sight seeing and restaurants and can give you a peek into the culture -- you can talk politics, for instance. 
So this time, 4 years later, I introduced my daughter to couch surfing.
And it looked a lot like this:

Because this time, we room surfed.
Instead of just getting a couch in a stranger's apartment, we rented a whole room in a stranger's apartment.  Still trust.  But with a key.  Our first place was in London and right under a sunroof.  Can you imagine!?  We slept at night with the famous rains of London right there above us.  It was UNREAL.  Glorious. An outstanding first night in Europe.

Renting an apartment or a room in an apartment, as we did this time (airbnb.com) is not free, but it is inexpensive. Sometimes the owners will chat with you and help you out, other times, they stay remote.
I taught my daughter how to travel in foreign countries.  4 countries, 14 cities in 3.5 weeks.  Pedicab, Boat, Bus, Train, Plane, Taxi, Car, Water Taxi and Paddle Boat.  3 foreign languages, 3 different types of money.  From hiking snow-coverd Alps to laying out on a sunny beach in the Italian Riviera.  We did it all.  And you know what?  I wore her slap out.

Unfortunately, we never made it to Essex.


~Connie said...

"... but if you don't get away from home, you are stagnant" Best line, by far! :)

btw - glad you're home!

Anonymous said...

Steve,take me away---
I DONT want to be stagnant anymore!! LOL