Thursday, June 28, 2012 Comes to Help Share Rides in the US!

When I was sitting in Berlin, Germany, trying to figure out how to get to Munich in time to meet my buddy for Oktoberfest, I figured a few things out online.

One: because of the timing, a bus ride was going to cost at least US$200.

Two: again, because of the timing, a train would cost nearly double that.

Three: There's this funny little site I can put through Google translate and get a ride in someone's car for 25 euro.

Granted, the ride (pictured above) was barely up to getting us there, and in fact had to be push-started onto the German autobahn (....yes). But it got us there, cheap for the season.

The site was, and it has since spawned several sister sites in more than half a dozen languages across Europe (including the queen's English over at It was one of the first sites I put in my "useful travel links" section at the bottom (which you should check out if you haven't already). But it remained restricted to Europe.

But not for long.

The company is coming to establish itself in America under And while it's partially aimed at simply easing commutes and carbon emissions, I think it has the potential to revolutionize budget travel in the United States.

You see, budget travel in the US is a problem. Major bus lines either make far too many stops to be practical or are restricted to the eastern seaboard (not to mention the seriously sketchy reputation of a certain canine-named carrier). The trains are comfy but expensive and run at laughable speeds and frequencies compared to their counterparts in Europe, developed Asia, Australia, India... pretty much anywhere else with trains. Plane rides are long and expensive, we don't have EasyJet, Ryan Air, Air Asia, or Tiger Airways out here. Even tickets on our discount airlines like Southwest and Jetblue can cost ten times as much as the airlines listed above. And unlike the rest of the world (Europe aside) there's no reward to booking at the last minute on any transportation method. It just gets more and more expensive, requiring passengers to book their tickets more than a month in advance.

Besides-- gas prices be damned-- the real way, culturally, to travel across America, is by car. There is nothing in the world quite like a good, old-fashioned American road trip.

Voila: Pay a driver who's going your way a negotiated amount, meet, ride. And this could be as easy as inviting or RSVPing to a party on Facebook. It's the 21st century answer to hitchhiking.

I'm going to be very excited to watch how this site develops and launches here in the USA.

Monday, June 4, 2012

CouchSurfing Show Coming to TV?

I need to check my couchsurfing messages more often. This was sent to me about a week ago and I only just saw it now:

Hey Joel-
How's it going? My name is ------- and I came across your profile as an experienced New York host while searching around for something specific (which I'll get to in a minute). I'm a New Yorker, born and raised, and have lived in New York (state and/or city) for most of my life. About a year and a half ago I was living in Barcelona for 6 months and came across this phenomenon called 'CouchSurfing'. I signed up, and hosted a couple different people in my time there, as well as met a handful of others.
Anyhow, why am I reaching out to you? I pitched the idea of CouchSurfing as a TV show to a production company in LA, and they love the concept. We signed a contract and are now moving forward with the project. So, our first order of business is casting. We need to find a few hosts that will be the 'stars' of our show. The vision is to have a few different people (or groups of people) welcome strangers from around the world into their homes. New week, new episode, new surfers. The hosts, and their homes, remain the constant for the audience to develop a relationship with. You get the point, I'm sure.
As you're a frequent participant in the CouchSurfing community, I thought that maybe you would be interested in applying, or maybe you know someone you think would be an ideal candidate (ie. 'character'). In any event, if there is any way you can help, I'd greatly appreciate it. You can email me at ----------- if you are interested or would like to discuss further.

Needless to say, I shot off a quick "yes, please!" But even if I don't get to be part of this project, I will certainly be keeping track of it.

EDIT (6/5/12): Just got word back, he wants me to send in a 3 minute video audition. He says "DO NOT be shy.  Show your personality.  We want to get to know you." Time to start planning some shots!