Couchsurfing Dallas

If you’ve never couchsurfed before, I suggest you give it a try at least once in your life. It seems like a complete toss up on what kind of experience you’ll have, but if you use the system correctly, I believe that you will be rewarded in some way for stepping out of your comfort zone.

By couchsurfing with the right host you will gain an enthusiastic guide for the city you’re visiting and receive a look into their personal beliefs and perspectives—all for the low cost of maybe buying them a meal or something.

When Peyton, Daniel, and I pulled up to an apartment just north of downtown Dallas, we had no idea what to expect. Frankly, we were all a little nervous to couchsurf for the first time. Sleeping at stranger’s house in a city you don’t know is not something most people think reasonable, but it is adventurous and free. When the guy stepped out of his house two others with backpacking packs followed. It just so happened that he had been hosting a couple from France before us, and they were leaving as we arrived. This was a good sign; if he frequently hosted people, how bad could it be?

Chris introduced himself to us and let us bring our stuff inside to put it where we would be sleeping. He had a couch and a futon in his living room that would be ours for two nights. Chris told us to feel free to use anything in his home and then asked if we wanted to grab a bite to eat, which was a great idea to us after 8 hours on the road. After trying to figure out what kind of food we were in the mood for, we decided on a nearby Vietnamese restaurant that we would have never found on our own. Chris even drove us to the place in his own car to save us the trouble. We had an amazing meal, and then he asked if there was anywhere else we wanted to go that night. Again he drove us—this time to The Wild Detectives, a small bar and coffee shop that doubles as a book store. We sat out on a gravel patio under dim incandescent lights at this extremely hipstery joint in Oak Cliff, Dallas while deliberating what to do next and talking about this newly popular and developing area.

Although it was late, Chris wanted to show us the Dallas skyline from his “secret spot” that was actually in a very wealthy neighborhood. The view of the city was brilliant; we couldn’t have found one like it by ourselves. Then he took us on a tour of all the significant JFK locations throughout the city while explaining his conspiracy theories—all at about 2 a.m. He actually had Peyton, Daniel, and me fairly convinced that it couldn’t have been Lee Harvey Oswald, but who actually assassinated John F. Kennedy is anyone’s guess.

The next day we went out on our own and found a park to mountain bike in. Chris had lent us his keys, so we could come back to the apartment anytime we wanted. After mountain biking we parked at his place and walked around downtown. We took the elevator to a lookout floor in Chase Tower where we could see the entire city for miles and miles. Later, back at Chris’s apartment, we cooked dinner in his kitchen while he was at the airport picking up another couchsurfer who arrived a day early. When he got back, he was followed in by a young, boyish Ukrainian guy who would be working in Dallas as a lifeguard for the summer. Sasha or Alex—he didn’t care which name you used—immediately took out a can of Ukrainian tobacco and began rolling his own cigarettes which he neatly filed away in a tin case.

With one more night to kill, we found ourselves driving to Deep Ellum, a popular hangout spot in Dallas full of clubs and bars and overflowing with people. We ended up in another little coffee bar (Sasha/Alex was only 19 and couldn’t enter most places) where we learned in detail all about Chris’s unorthodox and complicated spiritual beliefs while listening to a dirty-sounding musician who covered Sublime, Rehab, and Pearl Jam. The next morning we awoke and found ourselves sad to leave. We also found Sasha/Alex standing outside on the second story patio smoking a cigarette in his underwear. Our entire experience in Dallas would have been much different and definitely less memorable had we opted to stay in a hotel or even a hostel. Plus we now have a great new friend and a place to stay anytime we visit Dallas again.

When couchsurfing, it’s important to take a few steps to ensure your safety. First, I recommend only staying with members who have paid to be verified by couchsurfing.com. This means they are serious about the experience and taking care of their guests. Then, research the people who you plan to request a stay with. What is their personality like? Is it a good fit with yours? Do you want a host who will hang out and show you around the city or one who will be cool with you doing your own thing? Where is their place located? Is it in a (relatively) safe area? Also be sure to read their references. This can help you understand what kind of host they are and what they can offer. It lets you feel them out and be sure you are at least confident you will be safe in their house or apartment. My last tip is to include in your request what interests you about them and their city. Hosts will not accept you if they think you are only looking for a free place to crash. They open up their homes because they enjoy meeting people and learning about them. Ultimately there is a slight risk in using couchsurfing, but there is a risk in anything you do, so why not try something new and see what kind of memories you can make?

Getting Started

Addressing the cliché
Someone—anyone who has ever had a blog, probably—once said, “The hardest part of any journey is taking that first step.” When I started writing this, I agreed with that idea and planned on discussing why it is true. The more I thought about it, though, I began to change my mind. There are many cases where this cliché is just simply not true. Examples: I assume actually summiting Mt. Everest is much harder than buying a plane ticket to Nepal and getting to basecamp. I’ve heard that keeping weight off after losing it is actually harder than losing it in the first place. And at many times in my own life things have become much more difficult after the initial steps. Here’s my point: Getting started is often a difficult part in every endeavor, but let’s not pretend that it’s peaches and cream the rest of the way. That being the case, how do you start and continue through an adventure to the end?

Make a commitment
Before beginning an adventure, the idea is there. A thought in your head is telling you to move in some direction that you’ve never been before, or to do it differently. Being adventurous means committing to make that thought happen. An idea can last for years and never be brought to fruition. Why? Maybe you don’t have time yet, maybe you’re still working on the details, maybe you’re afraid it won’t work out. But ultimately, if you don’t turn that idea into an adventure, it must just not be that important to you. And that’s okay—not all adventures are meant to be. Sometimes there are more important things. But you should always pursue the adventures you’re passionate about. Passions transform dreams into realities, so when you realize a passion, make a commitment. Learn everything you can about your idea, and tell people about it. Set a timeline, and turn your thoughts into concrete plans. Sometimes simply writing ideas down can help you bring them to life. Personally, I keep a running list of commitments: books to read, paintings to create, poems to write, places to see. All of these things are adventures to me and things that I’m passionate about, so I have actively decided to pursue them instead of just thinking about them and hoping they happen.

The Road Trip
When I first starting thinking about Anyone’s Adventure, I had no idea it could ever actually happen. A friend of mine half-jokingly suggested that we buy motorcycles and ride to the Pacific Ocean. We never did that but the idea of the adventure stuck. It was a year or so after that I decided to plan a big trip to see the country I live in. I asked a couple of friends to join in, and soon there were three of us just talking about where we wanted to go and how we would do it at a low cost. We set a general start date: summer 2016. Then we started telling all of our friends and family about it. Most people seemed either really excited for us or thought we were dreaming and that it would never happen. Either way, telling people made the trip more real to us. We would hangout and just spend a night talking about the trip and planning the exact places we would go; before long we had total costs estimated and campsites booked. I researched several of the parks and cities to figure out how to best use our time and to learn about the equipment we would need to bring with us. Things were moving along quickly and there was no stopping them at that point. Before we knew it the departure day was here. We woke up the morning of May 17, loaded up the truck, ate breakfast, and hit the road for Dallas.