In an interview I did for Ed Rex last week I was asked about Couchsurfing, and to be honest I had no answer to the question as its not something I’ve yet tried. Then this past Friday walking to the pub from work, in the ass end of west london, three German girls (i think) ask for directions to a street where they will be couchsurfing. Now as I sit here writing this intro on a Monday morning with eyes half shut and a backlog of pretty boring looking work emails filing through onto Outlook, an interview within which couchsurfing and living with locals plays a big role may have finally drummed home the message that couchsurfing and staying with locals is something I should really be to looking into. Read on if you’re in the same boat as me and interested in learning through this weeks awesome interviewee about living and working with locals, and how doing so can enhance your own travel experience.
Hi, AND WHO MIGHT YOU BE?
2. Age? 22
3. Twitter Handle? @AshleyAbroadx
4. URL? Ashleyabroad.com
5. Home Town? Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA
6. Current Location? Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, a town right outside of Paris.
7. … Business or pleasure? Both! I work as an au pair but I have plenty of free time to explore the city, as well as the rest of Europe.
8. Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to at the moment. What are the best bits, worst bits etc?
I just graduated from college in May and now I’m working as an au pair and living with a French family. I spend my days here taking French courses, wandering the city with my camera and cooking lots of buttery French food. The only downside is that it takes me over an hour to get into Paris so I don’t get to enjoy the city as often as I’d like to.
LET’S TALK TRAVEL
9. First travel experience?
The first real trip I went on (i.e. not a family vacation) was a month-long trip to Ecuador when I was 15. It was certainly an experience; we hiked the Andes, built a house with Habitat for Humanity and rode horses next to the Cotapaxi volcano. I came back covered in dirt, obsessed with travel and already planning my next escape.
10. Future travel plans?
Next week I am going to Cologne, Germany, to check out the Christmas markets. I can’t wait to see the Christmas lights and buy wooden handicrafts (and on a less wholesome note, I’ve been told that Germany beer is kind of amazing.) I am couchsurfing with a German guy who lives there so hopefully he will show me around town.
11. If you could go anywhere tomorrow where would it be and why?
I would go somewhere warm and inexpensive like Thailand to escape the dreary weather and high prices of Paris. The cheap massages, beaches, scuba-diving and partying I’ve read so much about don’t sound too bad right now! I’m actually saving up to go next fall.
12. If you could avoid going anywhere tomorrow where would it be and why?
Maybe Indiana? I’ve had enough of the Midwest for now.
13. What 5 items would you not go travelling without?
* Pocket-sized notebook for writing down new words
* Lonely Planet
14. Best bit of advice you’ve received?
A friend of mine suggested that I try Couchsurfing and it has really changed the way I look at travel. When I’m travelling I love staying with local families (I have done so in Argentina, Chile, France, Spain and Ecuador), and with couchsurfing I can do homestays wherever I go.
Let’s Go Europe suggested a free beach in Cinque Terre that turned out to be a nude beach! The only people there were creepy old men and let me just say that the experience was not a pleasant one.
16. Best bit of advice you can give readers of this interview?
Visit countries you’re sincerely interested in. On my first backpacking trip to Europe when I was 17 I was so stressed out about checking all of Europe’s must-see sites and cities off of a list that it got in the way of what I really wanted to do. Travel as slowly as you can and learn about the country’s history, politics, food and language. And to really get to know a place, live there for a while. That’s what I’m trying to do these days anyway!
17. Favourite ice cream flavour? Mackinaw Island Fudge… it’s a Michigan thing. Though I’m still dreaming of the frozen Greek yogurt with honey drizzled on top I tried in Corfu last summer.
18. Apple or Android? My phone is much cooler than either of those. It’s a $10 Samsung with no camera or internet, with which texting takes me around three hours. But on the plus side I charge it once a week and it is virtually indestructible.
19. Blogger or WordPress? WordPress, hands down.
20. Hostel or hotel? I would rather stay with someone I know or couchsurf. But hostels can be a lot of fun.
21. Guilty pleasure? Movie theatre popcorn
22. Your chosen super-power? Telekinesis
23. Airplane seat – aisle, centre or window? Window always
24. What song/album are you listening to right now? I think this answer would also fit well in the “guilty pleasure” section, but I’m kind of obsessed with the French pop music on the radio! I think this one by Mika is especially catchy.
25. Thank you for answering my questions, as a gesture of thanks I allow you one whole paragraph to shameless plug of your website …
If you want to read more about my life in France and my travels across North Africa and Europe, check out my blog, Ashleyabroad.com. I love to connect with other travelers, soon-to-be travelers and bloggers. I also have a Facebook page where I post my blog pieces and photos of my daily life (okay, and lots of food pics as well).
WANT TO BE NEXT?
- No more than 3 backlinks in your piece (not including the questions 3 and 4, you get those for free).
- Once published on my site, the interview must then be linked somewhere on your own site.
- Once published on my site, you should visit and ‘like’ my facebook page. (shameless i know)
- I reserve the right remove any answers or links that I deem unsuitable for my site.