Many people incorrectly assume that Couchsurfing is solely about opening up your couch to strangers, or in turn sleeping on a stranger's couch. This could not be further from the truth and a perfect example of one of the many ways Couchsurfing can be used to better your life and your travels was an experience that I recently had in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
I booked my trip to Brazil before discovering that there was going to be the first ever Pan American Collective held during the exact time I would be there. Normally when I travel solo, if I am not Couchsurfing to begin with, I make sure to meet up with local Couchsurfers in order to 1) get a insider's perspective on the city that I am in, and 2) to have some company.
The Pan American Collective was a week of events, ranging from parties to sightseeing to sports activities, all centered around the main event, which was New Year's Eve. When the organizers of the Collective began this project I do not believe they realized just how many people would be interested in participating. It ended up drawing around 1,000 Couchsurfers from all over the world, and while it was more people than they had originally planned for, the Collective was nothing short of a success.
Since I already had friends in Brazil that I had promised to spend time with, I was unable to attend all of the events. I did attend several though, and of course I attended the New Year's Eve celebration on Copacabana Beach.
It was such an extraordinary feeling to be surrounded by hundreds of people who shared my same passion for exploration in such a gorgeous location. I made so many new life-long friends that night!
Since the Collective was well-received, there are more in the works now. I highly recommended attending one if the opportunity presents itself.
As previously mentioned, this is just one example of how to utilize Couchsurfing. In several weeks, I will be traveling to India and I will report back with more examples.