Category Archives: Adventure

5 Ways To Keep The Adventure Alive

Today’s article is dedicated to keeping the adventure alive.

We all love our time away, our vacations, and weekends. And then Monday rolls around and we drum our fingers until the following Friday. I realized this repetitive cycle was a draining experience quite awhile back and set out to transform it. These are the little things I discovered and they have truly shifted my mood when I am not hiking a trail or road-tripping and my fingers start drumming.

1) PHOTOS – I cannot stress enough that every single person, no matter their photographic ability, comes back from an adventure with at least one photo they love. I know because I see them on Facebook. So here’s my suggestion, print your piece of art and put it where you can see it. My guy – at the urging of his brilliant gal – just enlarged a number of his prints, had them mounted on gatorboard – this is foam core photo backing, black looks best – and he hung them in his office. Friends, Fed-Ex/Kinkos offers this service if you need to really save money but you can also visit your local photo developer and have them mount your photo/s. Do this for yourself, you deserve it. *The gatorboard link I provided is to the lab I’ve used successfully for over ten years. I realize no compensation for mentioning them. The photo above of Convict Lake is the first thing I see every morning when I wake.

2) TRINKETS – We’ve all done it, bought a trinket on a trip, arrived home and then couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Put it on a shelf and if you really want to make an impact, collect similar objects or multiples but stay simple so as not to overwhelm. What the heck do I mean? A tumbleweed. Yep, I have always loved these thorny weeds and lucked into one rolling by in a horrendous wind-storm in Nevada and voila! This was my trinket and I love seeing it every day perched atop my bookcase where it can’t nail me with thorns. I also have collected rocks – not from parks that ask that you take only pictures but rather from the roadside – in the middle of nowhere. I have some granite from the side of highway #395 that I cherish like it’s gold.

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3) COLLAGE – These are easy and fun. I am sharing a collage my daughter created on the artist Frida Kahlo that I display with my kids’ colorful pottery. On your getaways, collect free brochures, napkins, postcards, and your own photos and make a collage on a poster board from the craft store (foam core is best). This is so inexpensive that if you tire of it, just make another one on your next trip and keep rotating them.

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4) JOURNAL – Keep a beautiful journal on your bedside table and enjoy reading back over trip entries. It’s great to just jot down family/kid quotes throughout the trip. One of my favorites was courtesy of my daughter who was in grade school at the time and wrote down that she and her sister had decided that I overruled their booty shorts because I was jealous of their bodies. I guarantee you that what you read later will be funnier and funnier with each passing year.

5) PRESENT – We all read the “be present” platitudes, with the flowers and butterflies, via social media, and we “get” it but darn-it, it can be hard when you’re exhausted and need some down time. We’re very present to that. So try and just hunker down in your cozy bed and grab moments of in-town adventure. Read a great book (Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed or Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer) or watch your favorite adventure/landscape movie or documentary (libraries loan them for free). Brew some tea, pour a glass of wine and light candles or incense (I just heard my candle-loving guy cough “hippie” over the incense suggestion). And finally, go ahead and begin thinking of your next adventure. Many popular campgrounds book out as early as six months in advance so a December holiday gift – from you to you – could be reservations for Big Sur for May and now we are not just talking “being present” but also receiving a wonderful present!

Create a living space that reinforces and celebrates what rocks your soul. Fan the flame of adventure, travel, and exploration by appreciating the roads you have traveled thus far. Your journey is ongoing and rather than experience it in snippets of singular getaways, strive to incorporate your moments into your permanent daily living. This will enrich your life and expand your gratitude and that is the best souvenir of all.

Feel free to “like”/share to Facebook and/or Tweet. We are always deeply grateful. 🙂

10 Ways To Enjoy Traveling Alone

A recent solo, five day trek across four states by car left me with a new understanding. This understanding did not culminate in a – never before experienced – deep enlightenment, rather it culminated in a realization of what I truly value. This came about by simply being present to, not all, but most moments. Magnifying pieces of time that were finite, one sunset, one foggy morning, one hail storm – thankfully only one hail storm.

These steps should help imprint a solo trip right onto your heart and soul and create meaning and awe in simple, teeny – tiny slices of time.

1) Drive – Significant miles, as in 1,345 miles for moi, across New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada before turning back toward Los Angeles. If you enjoy driving like I do, the miles will encourage a hypnotic trance that allows for all of life’s junk to just fade away.

2) Pause – This refers to stopping along the way and the style I chose was to avoid truck stops and gift shops and instead pull over in areas where the landscape rocked my soul. One note, watch for ants in Arizona. I was stung/bitten by some python anaconda viper boa ant that had my foot on fire for hours – talk about pause.

3) Chill – Bring a cooler and fill it with healthy food and drinks and skip the fast food along the way. To share specifically, I carried peanut butter, bagels, apples, and trail mix as well as iced tea, coffee, and water. Picnicking is more appealing when you pack goodies so I included chocolate chip cookies and banana bread as well as some favorite candy. It is much more relaxing to stare across a magnificent landscape than a busy McDonald’s at lunch rush.

4) Read – Books are a boon when traveling alone and I had a delicious one along. I ended one evening in a rain/hail storm by reading for hours and it was sublimely cozy.

5) Sing – This is one category where I part company with most solo travelers. I decided to do my five days in silence. No radio or music of any kind. I checked out of news and media with the exception of stopping and posting to the On A Dime website. I found that the silence went from a bit intimidating to a relief, however, I did engage in a bit of loud a cappella singing with the windows down. The music choice is purely subjective so if it enhances your trip then by all means, include it but if silence is enticing, go for it.

6) Write – If you enjoy keeping a journal, immerse yourself now. Consider a scrapbook with notes, mementoes, and photos. Artistic sketches and/or watercolors are also nice and don’t worry about how your art/words will appear to others, this can be just for you.

7) Watch – One morning, leaving the Grand Canyon after camping alone, I debated about where to stop for coffee when the location was suddenly right before me. A huge meadow with wildflowers. I popped out my stove (see gear) and quickly made coffee while watching the wildflowers open as the sun hit them. Another stop had me enjoying baby birds as the mother flew back and forth, bringing them food.

8) Unplug – As mentioned above, checking out of social media or even taking big blocks of time away can bring about a peace and renewal. I fall victim to thinking I am somehow unfeeling or irresponsible if I step away from news and current events and yet I know that truly the world moves right on whether I am actively in the mix or not and maybe being in the mix also means physically soaking ourselves in what came before Macintosh.

9) Reduce – This refers to your packing, your daily routine, and your place in the world. Pack lightly, eat simply, and grab the realization that not a whole lot matters beyond where you are headed and what you will pull from  the cooler for your next meal which can occur whenever the heck you get hungry, not when it’s time. As for your place in the world, revel in the fact that you are not your job, you are not your hobby, and you are not your opinion. You are only this teeny, tiny, stunningly wonderful traveler upon a new uncharted territory that is open to your visit.

10) Play – Yes, play. Claim any interpretation of this that pleases you. Splash in a creek, photograph flowers, partake in yoga on a mountain, sip herbal tea in the forest, or simply do nothing. As long as you are leaving no trace, your experience of the places you visit is yours to define. If taking a guided tour is a pleasing break from being alone, then do it or if staying solo and meditating for hours rocks your soul, then carve out the time for that. This is your play time and in this world of hard work and struggle, play time should be more highly valued. Start a trend.

Don’t wait, begin immediately. Even if it’s a weekend or a day or an hour, take some moments and call them your own. Getting better acquainted with the joyful, creative you, will be something you’ll never regret.

*Safety? See our articles on traveling and feel free to “like”/share on Facebook and/or Tweet. Grateful.

10 Safety Tips For Camping Alone 

10 Road Trip Tips

5 Things To Know About Free Camping

10 Tips On The Making Of An Adventurer

The On A Dime gang is a motley crew of adventurers that consists of parents, kids, cousins, friends, and really anyone willing to throw in gas money – on a whim – for a trip to Death Valley or a rain forest full of slugs. We feel your envy and just know you are wondering, “how do I become like them? The few, the proud, the guileless”.

View of Half Dome
View of Half Dome

Adventurers are born, of this we’re fairly certain. The very first adventure, walking, seems to be the result of an overwhelming desire to escape from the fans that first encouraged with “come on, walk to Daddy” and then followed up weeks later with “get down, now!”

None of us would ever get down if we had the choice but the child mortality rate would also soar were we left to our own devices. Striking a delicate balance in the making of an adventurer can prove elusive and this mom – in unraveling the mystery – has been ’round and ’round the mulberry tree or should we say Mc Donalds drive-through. The mulberries were organic and dished out to child #1 but by child #3, we were charting which Happy Meal toy week it was.

The first on a dime children were three girls that were not allowed nail polish until middle school – and then when we gave in, it was only to grass-fed nail polish. By the time #4 (a boy) landed on planet earth, most of the grass-fed goals had been replaced by the steely determination to turn the kids into “adventurers” – kids that would leave our side and allow us to sleep for four hours straight.

Adventure training had begun. It spanned many years and utilized these 10 steps.

1) Just Say Yes – This theory would cause a baby powder explosion all over the driveway that was defended as a “science experiment”. The “yes” model also allowed for one child’s conviction that he was a werewolf and traveled the neighborhood every full moon (dead serious and this phase lasted about a year). The sisters encouraged the werewolf stage as they hoped he’d leave on the weekends they had friends sleeping over.

2) Just Say No – When child #2 – voted most obstinate by the other three obstinates (this should be a word) – casually sauntered in one day from the pet store with a cute four-inch lizard on her forearm, this mom inquired as to the kind of lizard it was. The rest of the exchange went like this…

Obstinate Child (in disguise as a sweet child) – Iguana

Distracted Mom – Don’t those get big? Do they need a cage?

Obstinate Child – I’m sure we can get one on Craig’slist for $10 and I’ll walk it on a leash.

Alert Mom – Leash?

At this point, Google was fired up and revealed that Iguanas grow to six feet, head to tail, and are known to use said tail to whip those that irritate them. If they’d have been trainable, the whipping tail might’ve been a selling point. “No” was the answer to the Iguana adventure.

3) Follow The Rules – And the kids do. They would never duplicate – in the forest – the illegal campfire set on the beach in Malibu. We like to think adventurers learn to be fierce about safety and protecting the environment and abide by rules that have rangers welcome them with open arms. Beach patrol, not so much.

4) Break The Rules – And the kids do. But only when it involves managed-adventure as in skydiving a wee bit before the suggested (posted) limit with an older adventurer who was not yet aware of the power of social media. New reality show, The Moms Of Department Of Children’s Services and yeah, I’ll never get a job as a nanny for any authors of parenting books.

Skydiving
The daughter in this photo made the age limit

5) Be Fearless – After years spent watching too much news, this on a dimer opted out. Statistically (and speaking from experience), debt anxiety and Happy Meal toy excursions are much more dangerous than walking a trail into the wild. Do not take our word for it, look up stats for what the biggest dangers are and we can guarantee that hiking (even in the dark) is not on the same list as texting while driving.

6) Be Prepared – Adventurers the world over, prepare. They don’t happen overnight, they read, learn, ask for advice, and then make calm, rational decisions. The word adventure does not have to be synonymous with impulsive. Join your kids in discussions about safety and be open to learning from them. And if you are as lucky as this wayward trailblazer, your kids will yell “Mom, the trail is over here! You are wandering again!” Uhm hello, that’s why they call it “trailblazer”.

At the top, in honor of Kevin Cordasco and Courage*Strength*Believe
At the top of Mt. Whitney, in honor of Kevin Cordasco and Courage*Strength*Believe

7) Hold On – Only to their hands when they are little and pull you into the land of adventure and only to your emotions when they are big and strike out on their own.

8) Let Go – Of their hands when they are big and your emotions when they fly. And by “let go”, we mean go ahead and have tears just like this mom did when the baby daughter (18 yrs.) walked through security and onto a plane, heading off to backpack Europe. A year ago she announced that she was saving money for an epic trip and one of her parents  (cough, cough) responded absently with “that’s sweet, honey”, never thinking she’d work two jobs and tutor and babysit and save over $6,000. Good grief – at her age – saving $6 would’ve been a success for this mom.  Well, she pulled it off and now is headed – with a cousin – to 8 countries, in 7 weeks and will couchsurf and stay in hostels. **Update, she made it and had a blast!

9) Ache – For the memories of their sweet sleeping faces all under one roof and for the moment they’ll return and awe you with what they’ve seen and been a part of.

10) Rejoice – For the memories in the making of all of the amazing things they are taking on. You have been their comfort zone and now they are ready to be a little uncomfortable in the name of adventure. Uncomfortable can be a most stunning state of being, a state to rejoice and revel in. May uncomfortable become familiar and may it continue on and on.

And continuing in the name of adventure; if you wish to strike out of your comfort zone, rest assured that you are in good company. This on a dime adventurer never hiked a trail until the 40s and a solo/ nighttime ascent of Mt. Whitney was tackled with fear and trepidation but navigated with reverence for a world only dreamt of previously.

Adventurers are not created, they are born. Born to be bold. Perhaps the greatest gift we can offer our kids, others, and ourselves is the reminder to leave the comfort zone, be bold, and to not get down.

If you wish, “like” it/share it on FB and/or Tweet it. Deeply grateful. <3

Only One More Time

This post is inspired by a beautifully fierce, cancer-warrior by the name of Kevin Cordasco. Kevin passed from this world – to one I now think of as larger than life – at the age of sixteen.

Kevin

I think of Kevin often as his investment in living was the catalyst for On A Dime Adventure. I came into the awareness that we all are so very finite, that our life expectancy varies from 31.99 in Swaziland to 82 years in Japan, and that we perhaps squander a fair amount of pretty valuable time. Kevin squandered none.

From this point on we’ll strive to shine a light on quality of life and  extinguish any derail energy. So let’s cut to the chase by cutting out repetitive time-drains so that we may redirect our zest towards joyous discovery. Let’s get completely tangible.

1) CLEANING – Some parts of our lives require ongoing clean-up and/or maintenance, however, a time-drain is the unnecessary repeats on the clean-up front. Be merciless, be ruthless. Get rid of the junk that is holding you back. Yes, I know that there have been many articles about this but I am speaking firsthand as someone who is radically upending their life and seismically shifting the lifestyle. DOWNSIZE your stuff. Donate it and throw it out. Live a calmer, simpler life and fill it up with sunrises and sunsets.

2) DO NOT REPEAT CLEAN – Clear out closets, garage, kitchen, etc. and DO NOT fill them back up. You miss stunning moments to connect to life when you are busy repeatedly organizing the unnecessary items you’ve bought lately to replace the unnecessary items you just finished clearing out . If this was not a challenge, why would it be that every single January tons of magazines devote covers to cleaning out the gluttony from the holidays? Do not rinse and repeat!

3) ONLY ONE MORE TIME – We hear about people who find out they have a terminal illness and clean their things out – one last time – and get their affairs in order. What we don’t stay present to is the fact that we all only have a certain amount of time left so why do we want to clean the garage out yearly? Again and again and again… ONLY ONE MORE TIME. Strip away the clutter and stop the consuming. Close up shop one last time. Do not refill the space you worked hard to create. Leave space only for adventure.

Adventure is aways available, it is waiting for anyone who wishes to experience it. Usually the main barriers are the ones we create by continually stocking our lives with things we’ll only be struggling to clear out all too soon.

There are tools to help support and reinforce a way of being that is the antithesis of every ad campaign running. These tools are real people, not corporations. They are former collectors, consumers, purchasers, and chasers of an American dream that they came to feel was a never-ending hamster wheel. They stepped off the wheel, looked around, and knew that Dr. Seuss was on to something…

“Trim up the tree with Christmas stuff

Like bingle balls, and whofoo fluff!

Trim up the town with goohoo gums

And bizilbix and wums!”

 ~Trim Up The Tree (How The Grinch Stole Christmas)

Courtney Carver of Be More With Less and Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist are forces in the movement – to not just clear out the minutiae – but even more importantly, to replace the quest for things with a quest for moments. They both balance their families, travel, work, and life with an ability to remain focused on shopping for opportunities to enrich their souls over any shopping for gee-gaws to fleetingly enrich their egos.  They have empowered many people to seize control of their time and this On A Dimer owes them a huge debt of gratitude as On A Dime Adventure was born out of their mission and their message.

Finally, it is our hope that this article sparks a feeling of possibility. We are aware that lifestyle is subjective and plenty of people are perfectly happy with the path they are on. This is for those, like this on a dimer, who wish to strategize more moments of pure magic and less moments of reorganization (and how is that even an allowable word or concept?). The act of organizing again or differently. Enough!

Kevin Cordasco had a very short time here on this planet and he made amazing use of that time. His refrain that “life is in session” inspired us so powerfully that it is our wish that a life in session prevail over a life taken for granted. Take Kevin’s message and Courtney and Joshua’s tutorials and live a life fully in session.

Below are several articles from Courtney Carver and Joshua Becker that are guaranteed to have you, like the Whos in Whoville, believing that life comes without packages, boxes or bags. Life comes not from a store, life – as we experience it – should be a heck of a lot more.

The 10 Most Important Things To Simplify In Your Life  ~Joshua Becker

* Project 333 Simple Is The New Black ~Courtney Carver  (Love this slogan!)

* 10 Reasons To Escape Excessive Consumerism  ~Joshua Becker

* Travel More With Less  ~Courtney Carver

* 7 Steps To Live Your Ideal Eulogy  ~Joshua Becker

* Minimalism Is For Everyone  ~Courtney Carver

Today, write down one thing you wish to do, that is all about adventure and whether it be rest and relaxation or an adrenal blow-out, make it happen and fully enjoy it.

Suggestions 😉

Grand Canyon we did it for $100.

Half Dome

Oregon 

Hike time
Hike time

14 REASONS WHY COUCHSURFING IS THE BEST (ONLY) WAY TO TRAVEL

Teri Clifton’s collection of essays, THE THINGS I CANNOT DO, is now available on Amazon and if you plan to visit California, check out our new On A Dime Guide!

Today’s blog post is written by seasoned traveler Lexie Davis, and her On A Dime spirit offers a way to enjoy varied lodging sans fees but rife with hospitality.

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By the Berlin Wall

14 REASONS WHY COUCHSURFING IS THE BEST (ONLY) WAY TO TRAVEL  

Most of my conversations about Couchsurfing begin with the question “but isn’t it really sketchy?”, accompanied by a raised eyebrow and look of concern. It’s difficult to convince people who have no knowledge of Couchsurfing’s mission that the hospitality exchange network is not only not sketchy at all, but is in fact the best possible way travel, especially for those who want to fully and deeply experience the culture of the place they are visiting. Here are 14 of the many reasons why Couchsurfing is the best option for an adventurous and open-minded (and not to mention, cash-strapped) traveler:

1. YOU’LL LEARN NEW THINGS

The first time I Couchsurfed was in Oslo. As soon as my friend and I arrived at our hosts’ apartment, they greeted us with a dinner of trout and potatoes. Throughout the meal, we discussed the differences in Norwegian and American culture, and they taught us how to peel our potatoes like Norwegians do. During our one-week trip, we learned so much about Norwegian culture—about their history, fairy tales, customs, and social systems. We learned about all the small things that would never be written about on a Wikipedia page or in a travel book: about the raisin buns that Norwegians like to eat on long road trips and the correct pronunciation of Edvard Munch’s name (as well as the accompanying story of how that correct pronunciation has actually changed over time).

hitchhiking

On our way to Bergen, Norway

2. YOU’LL EXPERIENCE A NEW CULTURE FROM THE INSIDE

 Most travel guides pride themselves on authenticity: If you want to do as the Hungarians do, then you have to go to eat at this place, and shop at this store. Yet nothing’s really more authentic than an actual Hungarian taking you around Budapest to all of his favorite places, telling you things about the city that only someone from that city would know. Whereas most people only get to dip a toe into another culture, Couchsurfing allows you to dive in headfirst. You may not walk away knowing all the details of Hungarian history and society, but you’ll come a way with a sense of what it’s like to walk around in the shoes of a Hungarian, even if just for a few days.

Troll

In Oslo, Norway

3. YOU’LL BREAK OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

 When most people travel, they’re surrounded by their American friends and family. They eat with them, sleep in the same hostel/hotel rooms with them, ride the train with them,  and go to bars with them. Sometimes I travel this way too, and sometimes it can be fun. But it’s not the greatest way to fully experience another culture, and it’s definitely not a good way to escape from that safe little bubble that surrounds so many travelers, and protects them from really integrating themselves into the cultures of the places they visit. Showing up at a stranger’s home, having beers with them, and sleeping on their couches is a pretty intense thing to do for most people. Not knowing what to expect is a nerve-wracking feeling, but also an exciting one, and is very often insanely rewarding.

4. YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THE TRUE MEANING OF GENEROSITY

When I first began Couchsurfing, I thought that I would be offered a couch, and that’s it (and letting someone sleep inside your home for free is already a pretty generous offer). However, every time I’ve Couchsurfed, my hosts have given me breakfast, and on many occasions I’ve walked through the door to a home-cooked meal. Couchsurfing hosts are by and large people who share because they love sharing, and ask for nothing in return. My hosts in Norway made my friend and me a thermos of hot chocolate to bring with us while we walked around the city. My host in Ghent called in sick at work in order to show my friend and me around the city. My host in Montreal lent me a pair of beautiful Swedish clogs when my own shoes started giving me blisters. When I was traveling from Berlin to Warsaw, I accidentally missed my connection, and ended up on the last train to a Polish city I’d never heard of, all by myself, with nowhere to stay. I called the girl I was supposed to stay with in Warsaw, and in the space of an hour, she called all of her friends until she found one who lived in the city where I was headed, and set up a place for me to spend the night. All of these people had never before laid eyes on me, and were still willing to help me out in ways that normally only the closest of friends would.

5. YOU’LL MAKE NEW FRIENDS

 The Couchsurfing experience is most often about cultural exchange. While there are a lot of hosts who are okay with merely providing a place for a traveler to sleep, most want to get to know you, to learn about who you are and where you come from.

kitty

You might even make new animal friends, like Poulet, our littlest host in Montreal

6. YOU’LL DO AND TRY THINGS YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU WOULD

Eating raw herring from a street cart. Going to a heavy metal concert. Riding on the back (“begagedrager”) of a bicycle. Scaling a snow-covered hill at midnight, and breaking wine glasses along the way. Trying brown cheese. Attending a stranger’s going-away party. Watching Frank Zappa documentaries until 4am. Eating fries with—yes—mayonnaise. Couchsurfing is full of surprises. Good surprises!

7. YOU’LL SEE THINGS THAT AREN’T IN GUIDEBOOKS (AND HEAR THE STORIES BEHIND THE FAMOUS SITES)

The “cool” bars and “trendy” neighborhoods outlined on travel sites are usually already passé (and not to mention touristy) by the time you get there. Your hosts will be able to tell you what’s a rip-off and what’s a must-see. If they’re not busy, more often than not they’ll take you there themselves. If you’re the type of person who likes to avoid tourist traps and get to know what “real” Italians/South Africans/Chileans/etc. do, then staying with a local host is pretty much the best way to do so.

8. YOU WON’T BREAK THE BANK

It’s free. The only thing you need to provide is good company and an open mind (though offering to cook dinner or share bottle of wine is usually welcome as well). But really, it’s no charge for a roof over your head in houses and apartments that are often way cozier and more interesting than a room at a hotel or hostel. What more can I say?

JB

The beautiful kitchen of our hosts in Montreal

9. IT’S INCREDIBLY SAFE

 For some reason, this is the one that people have the hardest time believing. Really—it is safe. Hosts fill out a profile with photos of themselves, introductions of who they are and what they do, lists of their interests, and descriptions of their homes and where surfers will be sleeping. But couldn’t these people just be con artists, or worse—killers? How do you know they are who they say they are? you ask. The answer: when people surf at someone’s place, they write their host a review afterward (and vice-versa). It’s essentially a Yelp review for a person. Many hosts have pages and pages of these references, all from different surfers who have their own profiles with references. It would be a pretty elaborate scheme for someone to create hundreds of fake profiles and then write hundreds of fake references. People who are on the website for shady reasons are pretty easily identifiable, as they almost always those who have zero references, no friends, and an incomplete profile. Another safety feature of the site is something called “vouching”. A more experienced host or surfer can vouch for other hosts and surfers on the network who they found to be really great and trustworthy.

I’ve tried to explain to those who are skeptical about the safety of Couchsurfing that when you arrive at a hostel you don’t know who will be in the room with you, and you have no way of finding out before you arrive. With Couchsurfing, you do know who you are staying with. You talk to them beforehand, and read all about them from their former surfers. Another reason that I believe that Couchsurfing is an incredibly safe way to travel is that you have someone from the place you’re traveling to who is looking out for you. Someone who will tell you which areas are dangerous at certain hours and where to look out for pickpockets. Someone who will help you out if you get lost or into trouble. If you’re a smart person who is able to use basic common sense and judgment, I think it would be extremely rare to have an unsafe Couchsurfing experience.

For more about safety, check out the links section at the bottom of this post.

10. YOU SELECT WHO YOU WANT TO STAY WITH BASED ON SHARED INTERESTS, OR CRITERIA LIKE AGE AND GENDER

 When you look for hosts in a certain city, you can modify the search so that it only shows hosts between a certain age, or only female or male hosts. You can choose to stay only with hosts who don’t smoke or have pets, or those who speak certain languages (nearly everyone on the site speaks at least conversational English), or those who offer to host families with kids. The person you request to stay with is not random—you search the site and find a couple of people who seem like they would be the best fit for you, and then you send your request straight to them.

11. THE COMMUNITY IS OPEN TO EVERYONE

While looking for Couchsurfing hosts in Norway, I came across multiple grandmothers. There are also a lot of families who host, most often couples with a very small child or two. There are big houses full of roommates, as well as people who live by themselves. Because open-mindedness and enthusiasm about diversity are defining characteristics of the Couchsurfing network, it would be difficult to find a host who doesn’t welcome people of all races and sexual orientations. No matter your age or who you are, you will be welcomed by someone on the CS site, as long as you fill out your profile to best portray you who are and what interests you.

12.  IT’S GREAT FOR THE SOLO TRAVELER

While I was traveling alone through the Netherlands and Poland, CS saved my life. I’m someone who needs company to stay energized, but always building travel plans around friends’ schedules can be limiting. Couchsurfing liberated me from my fears of traveling alone and getting lonely, because I knew that no matter where I went, I would be guaranteed to meet new people. Recently, I found out that I couldn’t fly to Amsterdam on the same flight as my boyfriend (whom I met while on a solo Couchsurfing trip, by the way). I was really bummed at first, but then I decided to book a flight with Icelandair, which offers free layovers in Reykjavik to people flying from the US to Europe. Before I’d discovered Couchsurfing, I never would have decided to plan a four-day trip to a Nordic island all by myself. Couchsurfing is perfect those who love company, but also like making their own plans.

Plane

Overlooking Oslo

13.  IT WILL HELP EASE THE TENSION BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR TRAVEL MATE(S)

 Many of us know that when you travel with a friend/family member for an extended period of time, you often start to get on each others’ last nerves. Spending all day and night with the same person or group of people (or even your lover) for days on end can sometimes get irritating, but when you Couchsurf, you have the opportunity to bring new people into the mix, which eases the tension and redefines the dynamic. Plus, after you’ve been traveling with the same person for awhile, you run out of stories to tell and things to discuss, so you will welcome the chance to hear new stories and have new discussions.

14.  YOU CAN TAKE A BREAK FROM PLANNING

Close your guidebook. Don’t make a detailed list of all the places you need to go and things you need to see. Even if your host is busy working and can’t show you around during the day, she’ll give you advice of great places to go. Your schedule will (and should!) change based on her recommendations and pieces of local wisdom. If you know everything you’re going to do and see before you arrive in the city, where’s the fun and adventure in that? More likely than not, your host will want to include you in her plans, especially in the evening and on weekends. You might be invited to a small party where you’ll be the only American. Or you might end up at the concert of a band you’ve never heard of. Or your host might take you to her favorite dive bar, which is way better than the trendy club where all the tourists go. Vacation should be about going with the flow, and letting your whims and sense of adventure lead you. Often, your host will take pleasure in deciding where to take you, and for making the plans for the evening, allowing you to relax and just follow along. Also, it’s important to mention that most hosts don’t like to answer requests more than two weeks ahead of the date you’ll arrive. For the last-minute adventurer, this is an ideal situation.

 TIPS AND REMINDERS:

  1. Surfing does not obligate you to host. Hosting does not obligate you to surf. There are plenty of people in the Couchsurfing network who only surf, or only host.
  2. Fill out your whole profile! You are carefully choosing the people you’d most like to stay with, but they are also carefully choosing those who they will host. Hosts want to see who you are as much as you want to know about them. Upload at least 5 pictures, and try to be detailed about the kind of person you are and your interests.
  3. Carefully read the profiles of all the people you request. Nothing makes a potential host more annoyed than being able to tell that you did not read their profile. When you send them a request to stay at their place, be specific about why you found them interesting, and why you think you would get along.
  4. Send requests out to multiple hosts. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You may not get accepted by your favorite host. Have a few back ups ready, and don’t feel bad asking a couple people at once in order to better your chances of being accepted by someone. However, if you are accepted by multiple hosts, be sure and respond to all of them, even if it’s just to say thank them for their offer, and let them know that you already found somewhere else to stay.
  5. You are an ambassador for your country. Remember that Couchsurfing is a reciprocal experience; your host is offering up his home because he wants to meet new people and learn more about other cultures. Treating your host’s house with the same (or more!) respect than you would your own is an expectation. Offer to do dishes, cook some dinner, fold up the bedding, etc.
  6. Gifts are never required, but it is kind to show up with some token of thanks, such as a bottle of wine, an interesting souvenir from your home county, some cookies, etc.
  7. One of the rudest things you can do is to be accepted as a surfer and then never show up. If you find out that you are no longer able to stay with someone who offered you a place, let them know sooner rather than later.

 COUCHSURFING MIGHT NOT BE FOR YOU IF YOU:

  1. Have a high-stress personality and don’t like improvising.
  2. Are a germaphobe.
  3. Are obsessive about things like pillow or mattress firmness or softness.
  4. Have difficulty with social situations and meeting new people.
  5. Need a lot of privacy.
  6. Aren’t easily accepting of different lifestyles or belief systems.
  7. Feel you need constant access to the place you’re staying. (Many Couchsurfing hosts don’t give surfers keys. Understandable, I think, but maybe a problem for some people.)
  8. Desire more of a solo getaway or privacy with friends/significant others traveling with you. Alternative lodging ideas can be found at this link.

 LINKS

How to be a great Couchsurfer:

https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/resources/rules

 Safety tips and information:

https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/safety

https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/safety_tips

 Proof that if a fussy, cynical old writer for The New Yorker can enjoy Couchsurfing, so can you:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/04/16/120416fa_fact_marx

5 (removable) Obstacles To Becoming An Adventurer

The definition of adventurer gave me a much needed little laughing fit.

Adventurera person who seeks adventures – ok, that’s pretty simple – and then a seeker of fortune in daring enterprises; soldier of fortune – giggling.

On A Dime Adventure does not plan on gearing you up with guns and ammo, we’re thinking more a tent or directions to a hostel. And this article is especially geared toward those with a wish to strike out but feeling overwhelmed at the actual execution. Honestly, we still stumble around and make excuses when considering a getaway so it seems best to segue right into number one on the list.

1) APPREHENSION – Break apart the idea that you can’t go. Write out your list of the reasons standing in the way and then solve them one by one. Hang the list on your fridge and, piece by piece, tackle it.  Debunk the most common fear head on, “I am nervous about camping, it feels unsafe.” Between 500-5,000 people worldwide die each year “camping”. 600,000 people every year die from heart disease so why are we more afraid of sleeping in a tent than fast food? It seems the biggest fear is often bears and yes, we’ve had them outside our tent in the middle of the night and handled the situation like the superheroes we are, exactly as the rangers directed us to, we yelled, “Bears! Go away!” If you are really nervous about this, bear repel is about $50. Fast food repel is much more costly. 😉

2) MONEY – Five star is not financially smart for this On A Dime traveler so walking a money-saving walk is our only option. Here’s a simple cash strategy formula; look at how much money you have and then work from there. See our Forty Dollar weekend post. It is not a pie in the sky idea. It can be done. And we will give a financial breakdown of an 18-day trip we are embarking on in June to Tahoe, Oregon, and Washington in order to further the belief that adventure can be cost-efficient.  Borrow or buy  used gear.

Fireside
$40 weekend

3) TIME – This one is evil and sneaky. It implies that you are a lazy cuss if you forego fertilizing the lawn, washing the windows, and cleaning the self-cleaning oven and instead, walk out the door and spend two nights staring dreamily across a lake at the reflection of the sunset. Do it. Drop the dust cloth and load the car and get out of town. This time business is pure silliness. Everyone can get away for one or two nights and we hope you start making a habit of it.

June Lake, CA
Time laughing is time well spent

4) DIFFICULTY – We “get” this so here ya go: 1 tent, sleeping bag for each camper or bedding from home, foam mat, ice chest w/ easy pre-packaged food if this is all you want to tackle, charcoal if you want to grill, firewood, camp chairs, deck of cards, headlamp. Less than 10 items to put on a list plus your food. Gear, keep it simple.

Tent
$30 tent, goes up in 5 minutes

5) PERFECTION – Now this is an odd one, don’t you think? It refers to the Facebook portrayal of vacations and how that jacks us up. On A Dime is as guilty of this as anyone and fully admit we have yet to post photos of bathroom awkwardness on the trail, terrible food choices (often the precursor for the bathroom issues), really hideous morning photos of which one cousin particularly loves to collect, and a whole host of other not-so-photogenic moments. And, as we write this, an idea is blooming. Painful as it will be, we’re declaring that we will start grabbing and sharing some “real-life” photos of our adventures. Please know that we’ve had many mishaps and embarrassing moments and the vast majority have been laughed about repeatedly when some time elapsed.

Boots
HE forgot to pack HER boots while she was at work and they are now getting married. Perfection

Adventures are in the eye of the beholder so all we’re hoping for is that you claim yours more often. Whether it’s fishing in the quiet of the morning, sitting around a campfire and laughing until you cry, or simply day-hiking your wilderness area with a pack full of apples and fresh juice, the time is yours for the taking. Take it. These moments are finite – life is finite – and our memories are ours to create.

Life Is In Session.

Feel free to share on FB and/or Tweet. Grateful. <3