Bad Drivers, Strangers, Couch Surfing and a Little Bit of Trust

You’ve just got to have a little bit of trust in them.

Trust. It’s a beautiful and daunting concept. Hard to gain, easy to lose – isn’t that how it goes?
But, what about when you travel? Does it become a whole new concept? I think so.
Sometimes, you don’t get a choice… And sometimes, that can work out to be better than you ever imagined.

When it comes to travel, I am constantly reminded to think “You’ve just got to have a little bit of trust in them.”

And it’s true, for the most part. I don’t believe you can travel, if you are not open to trusting others.
Travelling, [especially backpacking], and trusting people work together.

I’m not suggesting you walk blindly into any situation and just hope for the best. Sometimes common sense kicks in, or maybe it’s your gut feeling that guides you, and you can tell wether it’s a situation you’re comfortable in, or if you want to get the fuck out. Sometimes you can just ‘know’ when you don’t need/want to trust, but other times… you just have to.

Like when you get into the back of a taxi, and spend the entire time with your heart beating wildly in your mouth. You don’t have a choice – if you want to cover a distance to get somewhere, then – at some point you’ll have to take transport, and trust someone to get you there safely.

Or when you check yourself into a backpacker dorm, pack your belongings into your locker and your important doccuments into your day pack… You need to be able to trust that as you sleep/shower/eat, your basic belongings  will still all be there when you come back to your room.

What about when you order a meal? Your common sense and gut instinct can help you here to an extent, but other than that – you have to trust what you eat is safe enough to not have you spending the next 4 days with your head in a toilet. As travellers – we all know this is really difficult and not always possible.

And what about people? People can be so hard to trust! How do you trust that overly-smiling tuk tuk driver when he says “yes, yes, very good, very cheap, the cheapest, yes, yes, follow me, come come, I give you so cheap.?
How do you trust that weird guy in your dorm when he asks if he can borrow your lap-top for a little while?
How do you trust a stranger in a foreign country when they say “Of course, I can help, I can guide you…”
How do you trust someone who you’ve never met before, and known only for a few short minutes, with your life?
I’ve been in all of those situations, and sometimes, you just have to trust.

Sad but true, I’ve found that occasionally when people offer me something generously in a foreign country – somewhere in the back of my mind, I wonder why they would be so generous. It’s terrible to admit, but sometimes that little part of my brain telling me to be cautious starts buzzing, alerting me to the idea that “it’s too good to be true”. Is it the same for you? Sometimes, because of this, I am reminded to trust – becuase not every person is trying to take advantage of me in some way.

What about Couchsurfing? Have you ever tried that?…
Jake and I plan to couch surf in every country we visit during our trip – we’d like to do a lot of it. Not for the “saving money” side of it at all – our reason for couch surfing is to meet locals, and see a country as a traveller, rather than a tourist. Couchsurfing can help us to do that…

But, how do you trust someone you’ve never met, and agree to stay in their home, travel with them, eat with them…? There are no lockers there for your pack, no locks on your bedroom door, and you have no idea who these people are…
Yet, you click a few buttons and type a few lines, swap a few e-mails and there you go – you’ve got somewhere to stay and the possibility of a great new friendship. What a foreign concept to me, what a great one at that! You push aside all those “stranger danger” and “online safety” alarm bells ringing in your head, after years of being taught that in school, from your parents, and through the media.

Couch surfing is built on trust. Trusting your instincts, and trusting others… Thinking of strangers as friends you just haven’t met yet… And I like the concept. A lot.
There are some not so nice people in the world, true, but I think there are a lot more, a LOT more good people out there. And I want to meet some of them.
We’ve already got some couch surfing opportunities lined up, and we hope they work out for the best…

I like how travel pushes people to trust, more so than they might usually. It’s a hard concept to get my head around, but I appreciate it.
We can’t wait to travel; we can’t wait for those dingy hostels and bumpy bus rides. We can’t wait for those people we are going to meet – where ever you are. We can’t wait for our new friends, and those couches we are going to sleep on.
We’re excited to experience travel, and life, and trust is simply part of it all.

So we’re going travelling with open hearts and big smiles, and we look forward to meeting you somewhere Asia!

9 thoughts on “Bad Drivers, Strangers, Couch Surfing and a Little Bit of Trust

  1. Hi Colourful Travels. I just wanted to say that I have surfed and hosted a lot with Couchsurfing. I think that the ‘trust’ aspect is a large part of what makes the couchsurfing concept so rewarding. When I tell people in certain circles about it, like at the law firm where I work, I tend to get pretty similar responses: ‘Oh-my-god-how-can-you-let-a-perfect-stranger-into-your-home!!!?’ What if they trash your place/steal your stuff/rip you off/etc-etc-etc…’?!
    To me couchsurfing is a lot like hitch-hiking (albeit better because of the built-in vetting process..) : Two people, complete strangers, make a decision to trust each other on the chance that it could be mutually rewading to do so. Both parties have everything to lose from this decision.
    -And therefore, both have everything to gain. The risk you take is what protects you in a way. When a stranger shows me that they are willing to take the risk and trust me by giving me a ride or letting me into their home, it brings out the best in me. If I stay at a friend’s place, sure I will behave myself, but rarely to the extent that I will in a couchsurfing situation, where I feel a strong desire to show the person that I am worth the trust they have placed in me, that they were right to trust a stranger.
    I think that these risky-trusting-strangers situations draw out the best in our nature.
    So good luck and happy trusting!

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I couldn’t agree more: whilst we haven’t yet hosted couchsurfers, I still can absolutely relate to what your saying and it’s really true – trust is so rewarding: making new friends and experiencing that mutual trust between strangers is exhilarating in a way.
      You’re welcome on our couch if your ever in Melbourne :)…(and we’re not in Asia)

    • Thanks! We are really, really excited! We want to host couchsurfers here in Melbourne but we live in a big share house so its not possible. When we get back we probably will live on our own, and host people hopefully all the time!

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