Travel bucket list of the week & #TravelBL chat round-up

Halla! This shall be the third weekly post including YOUR travel bucket lists, submitted last week on this blog. A little late I again yes, had my hands full again, as the BRAND-NEW LOOK of is expected to go LIVE next week! Exciting news after exciting news, I know! What a week huh!? Stay along for the ride because things with me just go from good to epic in 0000.1 milliseconds *wink* haha!

Anyhow! As last Thursday, I’m also including a round-up of what happened at both sessions of the #TravelBL chat yesterday. Topic was ROAD TRIPS & OVERLAND ADVENTURES so I myself added many items to my travel bucket list. Now grab a pen & keep expanding your travel bucket list!

For this week’s #TravelBL chat round-up, click here

Don’t forget to submit your travel bucket lists, links of your travel sites and Twitter handles on a comment below if you wish to be featured next week. There is no limit: As long as you post new items on your travel bucket list every week, I will feature you every time! So c’mon, get greedy here. And don’t forget to join us on the Twitter #TravelBL chat every Wednesday at 12 & 6:15 pm (EST)!

Still confused on how Travel Bucket List Wednesdays work? Click here

Travel bucket list - space travel

Andi's travel bucket list item # 48 - "Travel to outer space" (Photo: Virgin Galactic)

Andi’s travel bucket list
You’ll be inspired by her list if you like: Outdoors, long-term travel

Travel bucket list Chris and Tawny

Chris and Tawny: "Receive sak yant tattoos in Thailand" (crossed off!)

* Chris and Tawny’s travel bucket list
You’ll be inspired by their list if you like: Swimming, wildlife, cultural experiences

Ted's Travel bucket list

On Ted's travel bucket list: Denali National Park (Photo: Wiki Commons)

* Ted’s travel bucket list
You’ll be inspired by his list if you like: Swimming, wildlife, cultural experiences

Travel bucket list Galapagos diving

Diving in the Galapagos - on my travel bucket list! (Photo: Teresa Subi)

* Swim with whales, mantas, sharks, dolphins, seals, etc. – Galapagos, Palau, Indonesia, AU

Swimming with manatees was amazing, but that wasn’t enough to cross off this travel bucket list item of mine. See, I’m greedy when it comes to this one: I want to swim with all kinds of creatures! Whale sharks, manta rays, actual sharks, dolphins, seals, etc. etc. (new ideas are ALWAYS welcome!). Well, no better place to do so than around the Galapagos, Palau or the giant Indonesian archipelago! So many sites, so little time. Thank God I’m only 24, because this item will take a while to fully cross it off my travel bucket list!

Travel bucket list - swimming with manatees

Swimming with manatees - crossed off!

For more items of my own travel bucket list, you may click here

What are you waiting for?! Go run to your blog, put together that awesome travel bucket list of yours and come back here to share it with us. Be part of the new, exciting #TravelBL Wednesdays! And of course, feel free to use hashtag #TravelBL any other time of the week when tweeting your items – you’ll get a guaranteed RT from me!

“Their farewell message as they signed off: ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish.’
And I’ve always wished that for myself. And now, I wish that for you: Stay hungry. Stay foolish.'”
-Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

My 2011-2012 BHAGs: Curacao, Bonaire, NOLA, Egypt, Cambodia, AUS!?

BHAG = Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Thanks for the inspiration, BootsnAll! You have just made me realize what’s my real last name 😉

Alo! I’m super excited to share some great news on this lovely Travel Tuesday night with ya! 😀 As you already know, I’ll be visiting Curacao for the first time in November. However, what you didn’t know yet is that I’ve added Bonaire to the mix! After speaking to other travel bloggers that have been to the ABC’s (Aruba/Bonaire/Curacao), I was told that it is wise if I were to spend 2-3 days on each instead of the whole time in just one of them. And since I’m trying to visit all countries in the world…this would be a perfect opportunity to cross off two at once 😀 after some debate, I decided to stay longer in Bonaire (3 days), as I wanted to visit the least crowded island with the most unspoiled nature for better diving/snorkeling. Then, I will fly back to Curacao and stay for 2 days to soak in the night life and possibly cycle around instead of renting a car *fingers crossed* I’m excited to have a taste of the Dutch Caribbean! Oh and in case you were wondering why I have left Aruba out? I already visited back in 2002 😉

Aruba Natural Bridge

Aruba's Natural Bridge, which collapsed in 2005 - I went there just 3 yrs earlier!

Now, how the HECK were NOLA, Egypt, Cambodia, Thailand, and even AUSTRALIA thrown to the mix!? Let me begin by saying that they are not all on a one-way RTW ticket (although that would have been pretty epic)…

French Quarter, New Orleans

French Quarter, New Orleans at night (Photo: Falkue at de.wikipedia)

NOLA, aka New Orleans, aka the “Big Easy” was an impulse buy from yours truly during a ridiculously-beautiful AA sale – snatched a RT ticket, direct flights, TPA-NOLA for just US$160 including taxes (I know, I’m a baller). I’m excited because the first and only time I’ve been to NOLA was to volunteer and help victims affected by Hurricane Katrina. Meaning? That time I got to be a part of something big for people, now this time I will be part of celebrating their recovery, BIG, with them! 😉 shall be a blast! This is happening on a long weekend in December, by the way.

And now, I shall describe the biggest event of this post. Band, drum roll please! *drum roll*

Hint: Plans A & C

Hint: This shall involve Plans A & C

Hint: Plan B

Hint: This shall be Plan B

My Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) for 2012 is to work, live, travel throughout the Middle East again or hit SE Asia for the first time in my life!

*rings cowbell loudly* YES!!!!!!!!!!!

Omg, you have no idea how excited I am, my fingertips just keep doing a happy dance across the keyboard every time I type about that! Soooo! What’s the plan you must be wondering!? Since I basically have it all planned out from Plan A to C to D, I’ll tell you all about it on a tentative timeline I’ve outlined below!

 Nov – Dec 2011 * Curacao & Bonaire (Dutch Caribbean); Miami & Tampa FL (USA)

Dec 2011 * New Orleans, NOLA, the Big Easy

New Year’s 2012 * long weekend where? Hmm…Tampa? Canada? Miami? Times Square/NYC again?

Jan – April 2012…

Plan A: Apply for jobs at US Embassies around the world, preferably in the Middle East, most preferably in Egypt. I want to improve my Arabic, get ready for a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Arabic, Track II at U of Maryland (close to DC!), studying abroad in Egypt again for the 2nd year of my degree (!!!)

Plan B? If by Feb-March I got no promising job offers on my table, start looking for jobs in Australia as well! I got a contact (if you wish to be named, you’re welcome to move forward mister!) that will help me find a job in the tourism industry there. Tour guide? Interpreter? Both? We shall see! 😀

Plan C: Really I got one? Indeed 😀 apply to become a flight attendant for a Middle Eastern airline, preferably Emirates or Qatar Airways. Travel the world while having a base in the Middle East and improve my Arabic in the process? Why not!?

Plan D (aka worst case scenario): Stay in Tampa FL a bit longer, until any plan from above happens. because you know, Maria Alexandra makes things happen!

La Isla del Encanto, Puerto Rico

A beach in Vieques, Puerto Rico

April – Aug 2012 * If either plan A, B or C from above happens, I’ll move back to La Isla Del Encanto, Puerto Rico (HOME!) and live with my family for a few months. It’ll be wonderful, because my first nephew is coming to this world in Feb 2012, so he will get some serious fun time with Titi Maria before she jets off to live in another remote country! (I wish he was old enough to teach him how to Skype already…)

Worst case scenario: Still in Tampa FL, job searching (aka still working on Plans A, B & C from above)

Aug 2012

Plan A: Living (and working) in Egypt again!

Plan B: Last week of Aug, head to Southeast Asia, travel through Thailand (for the first time!) for a couple of days, then head to Cambodia to volunteer on a house build through Habitat for Humanity. Afterward, tubing (and much else) in Laos. And “finally”? Travel job in eastern coast of AUSTRALIA!

Plan C: Become a reincarnated PanAm dream (umm, flight attendant) for Emirates or Qatar Airways, living in the Persian Gulf, but FLYING often around the world!

Sept 2012 * living and traveling either throughout the Middle East, Asia and/or the South Pacific!

And…what if all of the above fails due to some major mystery of the universe? Well, I’ll just stay right here, in Tampa FL, working as a translator and social media manager, still searching and waiting until a promising opportunity crosses my path. I know God has a plan for me, and while I do possess the gift of free will, He also helps me by guiding me in the path that best suits my abilities and all the love and talents I have to give and share with others. I’m such a people person, got so much love and great plans to share and spread around the world, I know what will make me wake up ecstatic every morning will show up eventually 🙂

Until then? I got my timeline to work on! And…

My pool in Tampa, FL
…a great view + pool at my apartment complex to enjoy in Tampa Bay, FL

This post may have been a little tedious for some of you to read, but I am the kind of person that needs to write (errm, type) plans out in order to focus, tackle, and WIN. I’m absent, scattered minded, so time lines like this one have previously helped me achieve some of my biggest life goals. And so this shall be my proclamation, my inspiration–the sticky note I will read every day until my wildest dreams come true!

MOREOVER, I am challenging YOU right now to proclaim your own. Write down your dreams, travel plans, BIG GOALS for the next year already! Come join me, let’s take this journey together!

In response to 30 Days of Indie Travel, Prompt # 1:
What travel goals do you hope to accomplish this year?

Romantic destinations: #TravelBL chat round-up, Sept.28th

Missed #TravelBL chat this past Wednesday? No worries! Here’s a round-up of what happened on both sessions so you get a taste of the fun *wink* don’t forget to join us next week at noon and 6:15 pm (EST) so you share your travel bucket list items! This weeks theme was Romantic travel bucket lists, by the way. Grab a pen and add your favorites to that list!

Q1. What’s your idea of a romantic destination?

“Red wine, candles, GIANT heart shaped bed on a beach, Barry white music and strawberries” –@LegendaryExist

“Dinner on the beach, with private 3 piece band and the chef serving” –@Mackinnontweets


Q2 Mention some romantic items on your travel bucket list 

“Kissing under the northern lights (aurora)” –@latinAbroad

“Picnic under the Eiffel tower, horseback ride on a beach” –@CaptainandClark

“Fireplace, Spa, Champagne, Great food and an amazing location” –@Mackinnontweets


Q3. What things would u take to increase romance on a holiday?

“I can immediately think of 5 things I wouldn’t take to increase romance – my 5 kids” -@hjortur

“Probably some sun oil that smells coconut like – good for tan, good for massage, sets the mood” –@LolaDiMarco

“Sexy lingerie anywhere works well” –@LAbackpackrChik

“Or perhaps what we should not bring? I say phone – turn it off, then walk, talk, cuddle” –@jettingaround


Q4. Top destinations on your romantic travel bucket list

“Go back to Santorini – with my husband instead of my sister this time!” –@LorraineTravels

“Anywhere remote with a beach… privacy and sunsets… ahhh, yes!” –@alexandraeh

“Patagonia, Paris, Venice, Tuscany, Greek Isles” -@ilivetotravel

“Sevilla, Spain. Dubrovnik Croatia. New York city just before Christmas” -@hjortur


Q5 If you could take anyone on a romantic getaway, who would it be? (get creative!)

“Bear Grylls… he makes survival look so good” –@alexandraeh

“Collin Farrell” –@MiraCristine

“Easy. Alexader Skarsgard. Abs & Swedish? Bonus.” –@CaptainandClark

“My wife. I don’t think this is the question where I should become creative…” -@hjortur

“@hjortur smart, bc you know..’if the Queen is happy, there is peace in the kingdom’ lol” –@latinAbroad


Fun, eh? join us next week at noon and 6:15 pm (EST) on twitter, with #TravelBL!

Travel bucket list of the week and #TravelBL round-up!

Hey guys! This shall be the second weekly post including YOUR travel bucket lists, submitted last week on this blog. A little late I know, had my hands full this week, but for waiting this long you also get a nice round-up of what happened at both sessions of the #TravelBL chat this past Wednesday *wink* now grab a pen & keep expanding that travel bucket list of yours! Also: Don’t forget to submit your lists, links of your travel sites and Twitter handles on a comment below if you wish to be featured next week. There is no limit: As long as you post new items on your travel bucket list every week, I will feature you every time! So c’mon, get greedy hehe. And don’t forget to join us on the Twitter #TravelBL chat every Wednesday at 12 & 6:15 pm (EST)! **For this week’s #TravelBL chat round-up, click here

Still confused on how Travel Bucket List Wednesdays work? Click here

Travel Bucket list polar bear

Travel bucket list item: "See a wild polar bear" -Jen and Jeff

* Jen and Jeff’s travel bucket list
You’ll be inspired by their list if you like: Wildlife, sports, adventure travel

travel bucket list Great Wall China

Travel bucket list item: "The Great Wall China" -Wanderlust&TheGirl

Wanderlust’s travel bucket list – @LAbackpackerChick on Twitter
You’ll be inspired by her list if you like: History, outdoors, beautiful waters

travel bucket list helicopter pilot

Travel bucket list item: "Fly a helicopter" - Patrick

* Patrick’s travel bucket list – @corktobelfast on Twitter
You’ll be inspired by his list if you like: Geography (i.e entire continents), sports events, Heritage Sites

travel bucket list glider

Travel bucket list: "Loops in a glider" -Peg (crossed off!)

* Peg’s travel bucket list – @tomebug on Twitter
You’ll be inspired by her list if you like: Languages, flying, photography

travel bucket list Thistlegorm shipwreck

Travel bucket list item: "Shipwreck diving - CHECK!" -Me 😉

* LatinAbroad’s travel bucket list item: Shipwreck diving

Oh yes, CROSSED OFF! =D Who doesn’t have this on their list after watching the box-office-smashing TITANIC movie, right? Well, lucky me, I got to dive one of the most famous, top shiwrecks in the world: The Thistlegorm, a WWII British vessel carrying supplies, which was bombed by the Germans and sank in the middle of the Red Sea! What’s even cooler is that you get to dive the Thistlegorm twice: First time is the deepest dive, at about 30 meters deep, and it is to circumvent the ship and see its vastness from the outside. It is truly awe-inspiring, if also rather eerie. You hear the haunting sounds of the ship, the exact same ones we all heard while watching the Titanic sink with Jack and Rose vying to survive. Eerie indeed…
On your second dive, you actually enter the ship. This was the coolest thing ever. We got to go inside the Captain’s cabin and even see his tub, then go to the different storage rooms and see several motorcycles and even cars still fairly intact. It is so amazing how much of the cargo inside the ship is still so well preserved after so many years underwater. Needless to say, my breath was taken away! You can see more pictures of this amazing shipwreck by clicking here

For more items of my own travel bucket list, you may click here

What are you waiting for?! Go run to your blog, put together that awesome travel bucket list of yours and come back here to share it with us. Be part of the new, exciting #TravelBL Wednesdays! And of course, feel free to use hashtag #TravelBL any other time of the week when tweeting your items – you’ll get a guaranteed RT from me!

 What’s on your travel bucket list? What have you crossed off already?

Got your travel bucket list ready? It’s #TravelBL Wednesday!

Got your travel bucket list ready? Because it is that time of the week folks: #TravelBL Wednesday! Today is the first weekly post including YOUR travel bucket lists and items, submitted last week on the comments section. Get inspired, grab a pen and keep expanding that travel bucket list of yours! Don’t forget to include your lists, links of your travel sites and Twitter handles on a comment below. Also, join us on the Twitter #TravelBL chat today and every Wednesday at 12 & 6 pm (EST)! Still confused on how Travel Bucket List Wednesdays work? Click here!

travel bucket list

Kayla @ a baseball game

* Kayla’s travel bucket list
You’ll be inspired by hers if you like: Baseball, Seven Wonders of the World & Natural Seven Wonders

Carnival in Venice, Italy

Carnival in Venice, Italy - photo by

* Leah’s travel bucket list – @L_e_a_h on Twitter
You’ll be inspired by her list if you like: Random lists, travel through all continents, and festivals/carnivals

travel bucket list

Islamic architecture in Fez, Morocco by

* Marcela’s travel bucket list – @wanderable on Twitter
You’ll be inspired by her list if you like: Animals, road trips, architecture

Tango in Argentina

Tango in Argentina - photo by

* Cornelius Aesop’s travel bucket list
You’ll be inspired by his list if you like: Dancing, risk and adventure

Siberia, Russia

Siberia - photo by

* Anya’s travel bucket list – @anyaosk on Twitter
You’ll be inspired by her list if you like: Nature, food and overland adventures

travel bucket list

I swam with with manatees in Florida, USA

* MY travel bucket list! =P – @latinAbroad on Twitter
You’ll be inspired by my list if you like: To get dirty, unusual landscapes and riding things (of all kinds)

Running of the bulls

Running of the bulls, San Fermin Festival by Eneko Alonso

* @pamplonahash on Twitter wants to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain

What are you waiting for?! Go run to your blog, put together that awesome travel bucket list of yours and come back here to share it with us. Be part of the new, exciting #TravelBL Wednesdays! And of course, feel free to use hashtag #TravelBL any other time of the week when tweeting your items – you’ll get a guaranteed RT from me!

 What’s on your travel bucket list? What have you crossed off already?

Travel bucket list photos: White Desert, Egypt (moon on Earth!)

Since I’m too busy enjoying the Puerto Rican sun (*wink*), I’m just going to feature one thing for Travel Bucket List Wednesday this week: The White Desert in Egypt. The amazing moon-like landscape is something you can’t believe from pictures–you gotta see it on your own! And so I did, crossing yet another awesome item off my travel bucket list, in the fall of 2008. Below, some awesome pictures to get you excited about making YOUR own travel bucket list a reality. Cheers!

* White Desert in Egypt – check!

white desert Egypt

Me (left) and Marine (right) exploring the White Desert

travel bucket list white desert Egypt

Margo (left), me (center) and Marine (right) seeking shade from the hot desert sun under a MUSHROOM!

Climbed to the top!

View FROM the top, at the moon on Earth - the White Desert in Egypt! 😉

[click here for more amazing photography of the White Desert]

What’s on your travel bucket list? What have you crossed off already?

Cancun, Mexico – Beach Thursday photos

This week’s Beach Thursday pick is Cancun, Mexico. Below, photos of me at different beaches around the main hotel strip, taken during my spring break 2008. Personally, I felt that trip was such a rip-off, for so many reasons. Cancun trip report, naturally, will come soon enough *wink* For now, enjoy the pics!

Cancun spring break

view from my hotel room. Saweeet!

New friend I made TJ (left) and me (right) after I won a booty-shaking contest + some VIP passes to Akon's Cancun concert. Oh yah, full story to come! 😉

Cancun spring break

we hijacked a kayak (and that rhymed)

Cancun spring break

Me at one of the many gorgeous beaches. And yes, I AM wearing a THONG! =P

Have you visited Cancun? What did you think of it? Comment below!

My travel bucket list: The R-rated version

Whether you call it a bucket list, or travel bucket list, or things to do before I die; or if you simply call them dreams or goals: Everybody has one of those “lists,” either written on paper, on a computer, in their mind, or in their heart. My bucket list has always involved traveling, and so I have called it the travel bucket list, and this shall be part 3! (click for part 1 and part 2). It contains my written dreams and goals yet to accomplish. Yet, in the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to cross some “items” out! And so here, for the first time ever, I make it openly public!

For Travel bucket list Wednesday this week, I have decided to give the usual list a little twist: And turn it R-rated. So anyone under 18, please stop reading. Mmkay?

Today you will learn a lot about me…intimately. I won’t get into details, but I am a quite sensual being (being a Latina just makes matters worse by default, naturally). And so ladies and gentlemen, I present you with my R-rated travel bucket list, aka all the crazy places I want to make love abroad (or anything somewhat sexual) whilst traveling. In no particular order (warning: Most are likely illegal, lol):

* On top of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

Great Pyramid travel bucket list

by Alex lbh (Creative Commons)

Ahhh, I’m still disappointed in myself for not making this one a reality when I lived in Egypt. I had a possible candidate, but he chickened out last minute, scared sh**less that he was going to be thrown into Egyptian prison for the rest of his life. I guess he forgot about the ancient art of…bribing. Hey, don’t get me wrong–I’m not talking ill of Egyptians. But hey, everyone knows bribes happen everywhere, and if to cross this one off that’s what it takes, I won’t lie, I might take the plunge or so to speak. This item, by the way, joined my R-rated travel bucket list when one of my good friends in Egypt completed the feat. Indeed, after a diplomatic party at the foot of the pyramids, in full dress (and her diplomat partner in full tux and all), a la James Bond style, they stumbled all over the place, distracting the guards and tricking them into thinking they were just drunk. Then, they waited for the party to be over and the complex to be closed. And so, in the pitch dark, they climbed the Great Pyramid of Giza and, you know it, once at the top they made sweet love to each other. They took several pictures of before and after- including some of the gorgeous Egyptian sunrise from the top of the only Ancient Wonder of the World standing. I have never envied someone so much in my entire life. But some day, oh some day, it will be ME! =D

* With a diplomat…better yet, inside the actual Embassy (anywhere)!

Embassy travel bucket list

by Foma, Wiki Commons

Another one of my half-crossed-off items. Indeed, I had the privilege to join the high ranks of government (or so to speak haha!) with a handsome New Zealand diplomat toward the end of my year living and studying in Egypt (what a closure!). Unfortunately, though, I wasn’t able to do it inside the Embassy…but, it remains on my list. Who knows: I think I want to be greedy next time and want to have the Ambassador instead =D (I told you I was trouble! lol)

* Inside a fairy chimney in Cappadocia, Turkey

Capadoccia travel bucket list

by Cybedu, Wiki Commons

This one should not be hard to cross off at all. The most charming hotels in the region of Cappadocia are carved into the rock, nestled inside those fairy chimneys from above, so this shall be a quite easy feat and (thankfully) all legal and “sane” =) Now thinking about it, this will be part of that 40-day Turkish delight itinerary I’ve previously mentioned on my travel bucket list…! Yay for making the epic Turkey trip even more epic!

* During a hot air balloon ride

hot air balloon travel bucket list

Photo courtesy of

Speaking of Cappadocia…hot air balloon rides are quite popular there. Which got me thinking…and now I want to do it inside a hot air balloon, too. Now that is a thrill ride right there!

* On an helicopter while flying over the Grand Canyon, USA

Grand Canyon travel bucket list

Grand Canyon from helicopter - Brian Snelson, Creative Commons

I just made up this travel bucket list item (I’m not kidding either). I guess I’m just so, ahh, inspired this morning (lol!). I don’t know how feasible this would be, considering how small helicopters probably are, but I guess if I pay enough and bring a blanket this shouldn’t be too hard. And with the breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon just below us…talk about after glow!

* While camping (not so legally) inside the Great Wall of China

Great Wall travel bucket list

Camping inside the Great Wall - Jodi Ettenberg,

Thanks, Jodi Ettenberg (Legal Nomads) for this travel bucket list idea! OK, she most likely did not do it while there, but she did camp inside the Great Wall of China and I remember dreaming of doing this ever since I read it on her blog a couple of years back. And so I thought, dang, how awesome it would be to romantically make love while watching the sunrise at the Great Wall of China!? Oh yeah, I’m taking the word epic to a whole new level (I realize I viciously overuse this word, but I don’t care! =D)

* Samba dance in full attire (aka half naked) on the biggest parade of Carnaval in Brazil

travel bucket list Brazil carnaval

Brazilian samba dancer, Flickr Commons

Ok, I realize this might not be so R-rated, but to some folks, it can be. And with the Latina power I hold within (hey, my hips don’t lie), this would probably be one of the funnest (and sensual) times I could ever have. Something about wearing that barely-there outfit after days of tanning my olive skin under the hot Brazilian sun sounds sexy as heck. And I’m sure I’ll probably cross any other item off this R-rated travel bucket list with (any?) guy that sees me cross of this one. LOL!!!! *wink*

* At the Blue Lagoon, Iceland

travel bucket list Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon in Iceland - Sindre Jacobsen, Flikr Commons

A ton of you probably hate me right now and think I’m gross. But hey, it was more of a tease, lasting about 5 minutes due to a strong guilt trip and consideration from us (the other party shall remain unnamed lol). So no, the “deed” wasn’t finished (not even close!), but I guess we were just in it for those few minutes for the thrill and the bragging rights. I know, I’m bad

And that shall be it for my travel bucket list, the R-rated version! It is now an official series: Every Wednesday post will be about my never-ending, ever-long travel bucket list. Until next time!

What’s on your R-rated travel bucket list (bahaha)? What have you crossed off already?

CouchSurfing Review and Guide to get Started

So! I just came back from Couchsurfing in Orlando this weekend and was reminded, once more, of how wonderful is the community and how much spice they add to my travels, even locally! While I was absolutely exhausted from an all-day affair with NKOTBSB (VIP event + long freakin’ AWESOME concert!) and thus could not enjoy the city with my host as I usually would, it still put yet another smile on my face *grins* and so, I was inspired to write this post! Here you have a couchsurfing review and guide to get started =D (click on any picture to enlarge!)

Couchsurfing Rome

Tram party in front of the Colosseum organized by my Couchsurfing host in Rome, Italy!

Are you a CouchSurfing Virgin? I’ll take it! For the past 3 years, this community has dramatically shaped the way I see people, other cultures, and life in general. Honestly, I don’t even quite remember how I found Couchsurfing. I do know, however, that it has changed my life. Seriously. My travel tales would have never been the same without the wonderful Couchsurfer, as they call themselves. And as the veteran Couchsurfer that I am, today I will introduce you to this popular subculture, hopefully brushing away your fears and taking your Couchsurfing virginity in the process *wink* I have taken it from several of my friends and they are all glad they did it with me (twss lol…), so I’m hoping this entry will do the same for you!

First, let’s start with a visual (right-click, open new window): Click here for my Couchsurfing profile.

Now that you have my profile as sample on a different window, keep reading this entry and put this window side-by-side with my profile so I can guide you through it!

Scroll down the page until you find a highlighted (light yellow) box saying “References.” I’ll start with that, as it is (in my opinion) the most essential feature of the site. Basically, you can “trust” the site as it has this feature, which happens to be similar to eBay’s feedback system. Here, you may read detailed references left by other Couchsurfers about your potential host or guest. They are categorized as positive, neutral or negative. This section is one of the deciding factors on whether I stay/meet up with the person or not. Not only do I look for positive references, but I also read them to make sure the Couchsurfer and I will be “a good fit” or so to speak. Needless to say, Couchsurfing is NOT a dating or free accommodation site. You stay or host people with the purpose of “traveling further” (if surfing) or “traveling without leaving home” (if hosting). This is a way of seeing and learning about a place from a local’s perspective, or a way of learning about a new culture from a traveler’s perspective. So, you want to make sure not only this person can be generally trusted, but also that you guys have some things in common so a connection is likely. See it as finding a travel buddy: While you may want someone different in order to learn new things, you also want to have certain things in common so you can connect. With all that said…

Couchsurfing Rome

My couch in Rome, Italy!

Read a person’s profile thoroughly before accepting or sending a couchsurfing request. This will further confirm whether you have things in common or not with this potential host/surfer. Also, if surfing, read the Couch information section carefully. It can be found on the left side of the user’s profile, right under the picture and Couchsurfer’s general info/interests. Read the rules, understand them. If you don’t agree with them, it isn’t a good fit, so don’t stay with that person. This is where house rules are usually displayed, so make sure you agree with them prior to sending a request.

So! Read this far and think you are up for it!? Want to get started!? Let’s do it!

Step 1: Register on and fully fill your profile. Add a picture, talk extensively about your travel style, your personality and interests (specially if you haven’t traveled much yet). Many CSers will not accept a couchsurfing request or request your couch (if you wish to host) if your profile is empty and without a picture. So be sure your profile is presentable and a bit of a reflection of your personality prior to exploring the site further.

Step 2: Once your profile is dully filled, hover your mouse over the “Surf / Host” tab, then click on “Tips.” Read this section carefully and understand the community.

Couchsurfing Iceland

Oskar, one of my CS hosts in Iceland, his gf, and me at a local rave concert they took me to. I look tiny!

Step 3: While you could go straight to waiting for surfers to request your couch or go to “Couchsearch” immediately, I recommend you gather some references either from friends of yours that are already CSers and got references on the site or by joining Couchsurfing events on your community. You can simply go to the “Community” tab and browse through groups in your area. If traveling, see what CSers are doing in that city. This way, it is more likely to get surfers or have CSers accept your couchsurf requests, as you will already have some “credibility” in the community by having some positive references stacked up. This is how I started in Egypt and it helped me not only with getting CSers to host me, but also for me to trust the community and understand it a little better prior to surfing.

Step 4: So you got some nice references decorating the wall of your Couchsurfing profile? Then start Couchsearching (found under the same Surf / Host tab) or wait for the surfers to start requesting your couch!

Step 5: If you are a surfer, this is for you! Once you click on Couchsearch, fill in the appropriate fields. The form is quite self-explanatory and the site easy to navigate, so you should have no problems. Now, once you submit this form, follow the advice given by Couchsurfing under the “Tips” section and what I told you about references and couch requests above.

Couchsurfing Madrid

with my CS host Angel in Madrid, Spain! Me on left

Step 6: Now let’s get to writing a Couchsurfing request! So you followed the tips? Read the couch information? Agree with the house rules? Now write your couchsurf request as personable as possible. Maybe comment on something you found funny on that Couchsurfer’s profile, or how you also visited Australia and loved it, or how you love dogs and can’t wait to meet his/hers. You get the deal! Also, read the couch info carefully more than once, as some Couchsurfers love to put “passwords” or keywords that you must insert into the couch request or else your request will be declined! For instance, I may say “please put ‘COLA’ on the title of your request so I know you read this section and my profile–or else I will not respond your request!” Some Couchsurfers go even further and hide this “password” somewhere in between their interests or even caption of their profile picture. So what’s the morale of the story: READ the profile and couch information carefully, more than once! Not only for the passwords, but this will simply let you know your potential host (or surfer!) fairly well so it is a blessing in disguise, really.

That should be enough for our Couchsurfing 101 course! I shall write some tales of my couchsurfing experiences worldwide later on, so stay tuned for more!

Have you ever gone Couchsurfing? If yes, tell me about an experience! If not, what else would you like to hear about Couchsurfing!?