How To Go Couch Surfing In a Cave

As the popularity of the Couch Surfing movement grows exponentially across the budget travel community, it’s widely understood that often times you won’t actually be sleeping on a couch. Sometimes you will have your own bedroom. Other times it could be the floor.

Or, as this recent article from CNN points out, it doesn’t even mean that you’re going to be staying inside of a house. In the case of one couch surfer outside of Petra, Jordan, you could opt to spend the night couch surfing inside of a cave.

Listed on the site by Ghassab Al-Bedoul, this 42-year-old Bedouin invites travelers to stay in the same cave he was born in just minutes from the ruins at Petra. Although there is no bathroom, his cave can accommodate up to ten guests who all sleep on thin mats on the desert ground.

A traveler himself who reportedly received ample free lodging while bouncing around Europe, Al-Bedoul has no qualms about opening up his cave to visitors coming to pay a visit to his hometown. As of publication, Al-Bedoul estimates he’s welcomed over 1,200 travelers into his humble abode.

Renowned for being a site where travelers are able to have unique experiences unavailable to those staying in traditional accommodations, Couch Surfing yet again offers up a tale such as this one, which can only stir the wanderlust of scores of adventurous travelers.

[Image courtesy of Jack Zalium on Flickr]

In the United States? Catch a free ride with the Kindness Cab

the kindness cabFrom now up until November 13, 2011, anyone located in between Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, California, can catch a free ride in a 1985 London Sterling taxi. CouchSurfer Leon Logothetis started driving the Kindness Cab in a an effort to give back to the community as well as raise money for charity. If you’re interested in hitching a ride with him, you can click here to follow his whereabouts and connect.

Years ago, Logothetis hitchhiked from New York to L.A., relying on the kindness of strangers to get around. Now, as he re-traces his original route, he is repaying the favor. On his first day in New York, he drove thirteen hours and picked up thirty passengers. The entire journey will end on November 13, 2011, World Kindness Day.

Here is a list of where and when you can catch the Kindness Cab next:

October 31- Chicago
November 3- St. Louis
November 7- Denver
November 9- Santa Fe
November 10- Phoenix
November 11- Las Vegas
November 13- Los Angeles

The ever-evolving language of travel

new travel terms and wordsWhile it is clear that travel itself has evolved in many ways in the past decade or so, it appears that travel language has, too. It is something that seems to happen overnight, without anyone really noticing that new vocabulary words are being invented but using them anyway. Check out this list of some relatively new lingo that has stuck in the language of travel.

Couch Surfing

While at one time we would have just said that we were “staying with friends”, there is now a global resource for travelers that has really made an impact on the niche. Couch Surfing allows backpackers and budget travelers to stay with local people in the regions they are visiting, as well as host travelers who come to visit their native land, for free.

Voluntourism

This is a specific type of trip that allows travelers to not only visit another region, but also help out a cause or organization while they are there. Some of my favorite resources for voluntourism include International Volunteer Headquarters and SE7EN.Agritourism

This type of travel involves staying with locals in a rural area. Basically, it is a farm stay or rural retreat.

WWOOFING

Related to agritourism is World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFING). It is a global network that connects travelers with organic farms. The gist of the program is that in exchange for room, board, and the chance to learn about organic farming and local lifestyle, travelers help out with the daily work.

Digital Nomad

This term is used to refer to someone who is location independent and can work from anywhere in the world using technology such as smartphones, laptops, iPads, WiFi and other gadgets. Actually, an entire separate article could be written on the new technological terms for travelers that have come about in the past decade or so (hmmmm…).

Flashpacker

Staying on the topic of technology and travel, this term refers to the more affluent type of backpacker. While most backpackers are thought to be on a tight-budget, flashpackers tend to have a large disposable income and also carry lots of tech gadgets with them, such as laptops and smartphones.

Staycation

This type of travel became popular during the financial crisis of 2007-2010 and refers to relaxing at home or taking trips to nearby attractions.

Glamping

This is a type of trip for those who want to experience the great outdoors while not roughing it too much. For example, instead of staying in a basic tent, someone who is glamping will use more high-end camping gear, such as a tent with electricity and an air mattress.

Slow Travel

Slow travel is the idea of traveling more slowly to enjoy each place and experience it in more depth by, for example, spending a week in one city or opting for a vacation rental home.

Mancation

This term refers to a “men only” vacation (think girl’s weekend or all-girl’s getaway for guys). With the trend catching on, travel packages are now catering to this type of travel. Interested in a mancation of your own? Urban Navigator can help you book packages that include things like golf, camping, and hiking.

5 reasons you should use AirBnB

I lived in New York City for over eight years. I spent many months out of those eight years traveling. With expensive rent due in each month I was away, I quickly mustered up the temerity necessary to regularly relinquish my apartment to a subletter from Craigslist. Craigslist did the trick well enough to keep me afloat and mobile all of those years in NYC, but Airbnb.com is better. At least for subletting arrangements. Here’s why:

1. Airbnb has profiles. Instead of opening up your house to, or crossing your fingers and staying with, total strangers, Airbnb has a profile system for users that allows you to take a closer look. You can read friends’ recommendations of users and you can check out reviews other folks they’ve worked with from the site have left. Granted, you’re still hosting or staying with complete strangers, but being able to scope their photos and interests will at least give you a better idea of who you’re going to stay with or host.

2. Airbnb pays you. If you read the above paragraph and thought, “Well, couchsurfing.com has profiles, too”, you’re right. Couch Surfing does have profiles. But with Airbnb, you can actually rake in some dough. List a room or two in your house, or the entire place, for whatever amount you want per night. And people pay to come stay with you–people who you get to look over and approve as guests first.
3. Airbnb allows you to be a guest. If you sublet through craigslist, you’re a subletter. If you travel using Couch Surfing, you’re a couch surfer. But if you accommodate yourself while traveling with Airbnb rooms, you’re a guest. Each host is different, but you can at least count on breakfast, clean sheets, and clean towels.

4. Airbnb is a good place to make real-life friends. You can also make friends using the popular sources I’ve been citing, like Craigslist and Couch Surfing, but why not make some more?

5. Airbnb backs you up. They might not be obligated to protect you when things go wrong, but they have practices in place that will help out along the way. From setting up a security deposit to having staff readily available to mediate any situation that goes sour, Airbnb just feels a little more reliable to me.

[photo by Elizabeth Seward]

Airbnb founder to eat his own dog food

Couch surfing – or whatever else you’d call the hitchhiking equivalent to sleeping – might work for a few nights, but can you make a career of it? The founder and CEO of a spare room rental service is about to find out.

Brian Chesky, one of the minds behind Airbnb, which helps people rent out their spare rooms to strangers, is going to spend the rest of this year using Airbnb to find places to lay his weary head. Chesky’s a victim of his own success: the company has effectively taken over his office, according to a post on the company’s blog, leaving him with the choice of getting a new place or proving the Airbnb concept in a most unusual and effective manner.

He explains:

Anyone else would have started the hunt for a new place to live. However, that’s when the idea struck me. Why not just live on Airbnb? Instead of getting a new apartment, I decided that I will live the remainder of 2010 on Airbnb. I will stay 2-3 nights in homes and apartments on our website, across San Francisco. Originally I wanted to stay in every place available in SF on Airbnb. But, with 650 listings, that would take me a couple years. Still, by Christmas, I will likely break a record for living in the most homes in a single city. The benefit is clear; the best way to make a great product is to design something for yourself. By using Airbnb everyday, I will get to know the product and the people like never before.

In all fairness, this is the sort of eviction every entrepreneur hopes for! Aggressive growth and successful execution are the reasons for Chesky’s unique homelessness.

[via VentureBeat, photo via Airbnb blog]