5 Tips for Mastering Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing.com is a website platform for connecting a global community of travelers, facilitating stays with locals or opening your home to visitors. Sometimes hosts can offer a private room and bathroom; sometimes it’s literally nothing more than a couch upon which to crash for a night. It is also a place to organize events in cities around the world.

We have used this platform to host eight amazing travelers, and we have also been hosted once abroad in Norway. All of the people we met through this platform were incredible. They all came from different walks of life, and they shared their own travel stories and cultural experiences with us (like teaching us how to drink like a Russian!).

We are the type of hosts who like to treat our guests to local Portland activities, hikes, and even trips to the coast. We enjoy meeting new people, and every experience is completely unlike the last. There are many reasons to love this platform.

Over our many hostings and stays, we’ve learned a lot.  Here are five tips for mastering Couchsurfing.

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Essentials for enjoying an evening drinking with a Russian

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We Learned How to Drink Like a Russian

Life is full of all sorts of fun experiences, most of which, you never plan for.  In fact, it is the unexpected moments that make the best memories – the ones that stick with you throughout the years and make you smile when everything else dissolves into nostalgia.

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We had one such evening, quite by happenstance.  We had the pleasant fortune to learn what it really means to drink like a Russian.

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5 Tips to Save Money on Lodging Around the World

When embarking on such a long trip around the world for a year, we have to consider ways to save money on one of the top expenses of the trip: lodging. There are many options when it comes to free or cheap lodging. Here are some of our top picks that may be helpful for keeping your lodging expenses low.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

  1. Couchsurfing – Gives you a chance to stay at a place for little or no cost while meeting locals and living like they do. You may have your own room, or literally a couch to sleep on. Hosts can provide many insider tips on the area you are staying in and show you more of the off-the-beaten path activities instead of just the mainstream tourist traps that a hotel is paid to tell you about.

23144643182_ea9eabf7d6_z Continue reading “5 Tips to Save Money on Lodging Around the World”

The 12 Countries of Christmas

Christmas means a lot to me and my family.  It’s the one time of year when we all come together to exchange gifts, eat far too much food, and socialize and laugh over games and drinks.  In America, it’s a family holiday, and offices across the country are closed for multiple days for the celebration.  We decorate trees in our living rooms, and we hang lights all throughout the cities.  It’s a time of giving and joy and coming together.

I love Christmas.

Spending a year abroad, there’s every chance we’ll spend the holiday in a foreign country.  And we know that not everyone celebrates it the same as we do.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015
Photo by Brianna Shade, used with permission

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Considering… Croatia

Croatia is a Mediterranean landscape paradise. From ancient walled cities and Roman ruins, to the many islands lining the coast, Croatia has it all. There are many well preserved Medieval towns and old forts that are worthy of Game of Thrones, just like in Ireland. Let’s check it out!

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Continue reading “Considering… Croatia”

Considering… Peru

Peru gets some of its inspiration from our first trip to Mesa Verde National Park, where we got to see ancient ruins of Native Americans up close (built around 1,190AD). Machu Picchu is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kinds of places that also has ruins, but these are definitely more EPIC. Why have we waited so long? Let’s go! Continue reading “Considering… Peru”

World Travel – Factors in Deciding Where to Go

Deciding where to travel can feel like an overwhelming task. There are so many possibilities and narrowing down THE ENTIRE WORLD into something manageable is seems like a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you plan a world trip based on our experience so far. Continue reading “World Travel – Factors in Deciding Where to Go”

Why I Want to Travel the World – Brianna

I have a restless spirit.  Anyone who spends any time with me knows I always have to be doing something.  I honestly don’t know how to sit back and do nothing; I can’t even justify an hour of video games because they simply aren’t productive enough.

The same translates to my physical location.  I love to explore, and I get antsy if I’m living in one place for too long (I blame my military brat upbringing for that one).  The joy I get out of discovering someplace new is unlike anything else; I get bored too easily with the “known.”

But why the world?   Continue reading “Why I Want to Travel the World – Brianna”

Why I Want to Travel the World – Aaron

Traveling the world is a dream I have always had. It is something I’ve always believed only the rich and famous could do.  That is simply not true, and I’m more ready than ever to get out there and spread my wings. Continue reading “Why I Want to Travel the World – Aaron”

Our First Canada Adventure – Vancouver B.C.

While my first trip outside the U.S. was Japan, this was my second, believe it or not. A mere six-hour drive from Portland, and you can escape the U.S. for Canadian hospitality. We took a long weekend for the Fourth of July holiday and ended up celebrating Canada Day on July 1st.  It was something truly special as they really know how to be patriotic. We hit all of the tourist areas and also hit up some amazing places within the city.  We enjoyed great food and stayed in a mid-rise apartment building with a view of the city.  I left thinking, why didn’t I do this sooner? Continue reading “Our First Canada Adventure – Vancouver B.C.”