Amandine Capuano is a Pre-School Teacher (30 years old) from Switzerland that has been travelling around the world using CouchSurfing and other similar platforms. Using this exchange program she has the possibility to know local cultures, to have free accommodations and live amazing experiences. She shares with us how is to live this adventure.
Travelling is definitely my key to Happiness! In my opinion, one of the best ways to understand other cultures and be open-minded is to travel! Since I am young I have always been passionate about the idea of travelling.
– When did you join the CouchSurfing community? Which advantages can you mention of this platform? It’s been four years since I am part of this beautiful community and I absolutely love it. In my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to meet the locals properly and of course is totally free of charge. While there is no cost it is common for a guest to prepare a meal from your own country to the host or bring a little souvenir from your country. There are two ways of using this platform: you can just hang out with the locals and go out for a coffee or a walk for example. There is also the other way which consists of staying at a local house and spend a night there to have a deeper understanding of their way of living. I use this app at the beginning of my trip to make sure I learn about the cultural aspect, some basics words which help me to communicate with the locals and try to get their best advice about where to go and what to eat. It’s important to bear in mind the locals know the best-hidden places (cafés, restaurants, parks, hikes, monuments, etc). For safety reasons, I think it is really good to know someone who lives in the country so you can contact this person in case of emergency.
– In which countries had you travel until now using this exchange system? My lasts trips were to Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine and the Cook Islands.
– Had you also experienced being a host? Unfortunately I haven’t had this chance yet. I will definitely host people the day I will get my own little place!
– Did you use any other exchange platform that includes work? Which one? Yes, Help X!
– Tell us what kind of work and hours was to asked to help in exchange for your accommodation? I had the chance to stay in the Cook Islands with a local host family. The family has a little boy who is autistic and they offer me the possibility to assist him in his daily life at the pre-school. It was an amazing chance for me to experience the education system in a local Maori-English school. I did it for 6 months. My schedule involved helping in the morning and occasionally the afternoon. In exchange, I had a very nice apartment to myself. Food was also provided.
– Had you made new friends using this way of travelling? Yes, I met plenty of beautiful people. It’s a very good way to make new friends from all around the world! And so far I am still in touch with most of the people I met!
– How did you manage your meals in general, you share the meals with your hosts or you organize them independently? I usually stay for a very short time so I try to spend as much time as I can with the host family and understand their way of living.
– What do you recommend to other new travellers that are willing to try CouchSurfing for their first time? First of all, it is all about safety! It’s extremely important to look for a host who is credible. So a few things you need to look at: your future host definitely need to have a verified profile. Then you need to read carefully the description. It will give you so much precious information about the person and the house. It’s truly important to read absolutely all the details to help you to decide where you want to stay. I always choose a host where I can have my own room because I need my privacy. It’s very important to read all the reviews left by the other guests, they will help you to make your own decision about your future stay. Do not hesitate to contact the previous guests, they can answer your questions. My advice is to really listen to yourself and listen to your inner voice and see if you feel comfortable trying the experience or not. If you are unsure about a profile, just don’t go!!!
– Can you tell us which are the disadvantages of the system? In any situation did you feel unsafe using this kind of platforms? To be honest with you I have never felt unsafe about using Couchsurfing because once again I am extremely cautious about how to use this app. It’s important to speak to your potential host and get to know them, seeing if you get along and bond well before staying. Some important factors to note are the number of people in the household. It’s important to know if there are any restrictions or rules they may have if they are going to spend time with me as a guest and read carefully about their socioeconomic situation, so at least I am aware of the comfort level I will face and I can be fully prepared. It is also necessary to know where the host is located as for travellers location is extremely important.
– Which was your best experience around the world? Tell us about it My best experience was definitely to meet my Boyfriend!! I remember very well the first day we met each other I was in Australia at that time and I was looking for a travel buddy to go to Kangaroo Island and share the costs of the petrol. We had our very first meeting in a lovely café in Adelaide to discuss our plans of when to go and what to explore… Since that day we have been travelling together all around the world!
– Which is your next adventure? I am currently stranded in the beautiful Covid free Cook islands in the middle of the Pacific. A tiny little paradise… I am waiting for the borders restrictions and I am hoping to be able to see my boyfriend very soon. We have been separated since March 2020 due to the Covid situation. Let’s see where life will take us…
– Share with us which is your dream My dream is to be able to see my family and my friends back home in Switzerland and give them a big hug. I truly miss them. I definitely miss travelling and explore new places. I dream of adventures…. This day will come for sure but only when everything will be safe!
The world is so big and there are so many amazing treasures to find out. Exploring new places and getting out of my comfort zone is definitely something I enjoy.
Sometimes it’s super easy to find your way and sometimes it can be super challenging. When I travel I usually have a rough plan about where I want to go. My holidays can be very intensive and are not always relaxing! I can spend hours and hours on public transport because I love to see absolutely everything and have no regrets once I go home.
I tend to be very spontaneous but I always make sure I know the visa requirements: How long I can stay in the territory to avoid any troubles with immigration. I also make sure I read about the local customs and traditions before I go to the country. It’s my way to respect the local culture. I always buy a magnet when I go somewhere. I really love to look at them. It reminds me of some beautiful souvenirs. I usually travel on a moderate budget. I don’t spend much money on accommodation. I prefer to spend money on experiences and restaurants.
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