Ok, so you’ve just finished an intensive Spanish course? And you would like to practice Spanish in Spain? And then you realise you’re broke as a joke and it ain’t funny… Well here’s how to have fun and travel on a minimum budget. Beware, it’s not for the fainthearted. Ready for an adventure? Live your adventure in Spain with no money!
Practice Spanish in Spain by meeting locals: CouchSurfing
The best way to explain this: CouchSurfing is a social network of travellers that offer a roof over one’s head to each other.
Basically, you type in your destination and you get a list of all people who offer a couch, bed or merely a floor. Then, you send a CouchRequest to the people you like and hope that they will accept you. Important: no host wants to be treated like a free hostel, so if you send a request, send it to a person you have common interests with. CouchSurfers are friends you just haven’t met yet.
You can’t host because you live with your parents or flatmates who are not CouchSurfing friendly? It doesn’t matter! You can contribute to the network by participating in local activities such as trips and meet-ups.
Is it safe? There’s a system of references, verifications and vouches. Before you decide to sleep at someone’s place, or host someone – carefully read their profile. Not only for safety reasons but also to hang out with people whose interests are similar to yours.
And it’s hard to find a host in the beginning when you have an empty profile, be sure of that. But once you get through with that… It becomes easy as ABC!
Here’s an article that sums it all up pretty well. I myself have been using CouchSurfing for 3 years and I agree with everything said in this article.
Hit the road Jack: Hitchhiking
How does a horror movie start? Two on the road, hitchhiking… Thanks to the movie industry, hitchhiking now sounds like the most dangerous thing in the world!
It is not as dangerous or hard as it seems to be! So how do you start doing it?
The best way would be to go on a hitchhiking trip with an experienced hitchhiker. If you don’t know any hitchhikers, look for hitchhiking events. You can find someone who starts from the same place as you do. Also, you can use the forum or a hitchhiking group on CouchSurfing to find hitchhiking partners.
If it’s your first time, do not hitchhike alone. You have to do a lot of miles/kilometres of hitchhiking with friends before you do it on your own. You have to learn how to feel the road.
There’s an excellent article for the first-timers on HitchWiki, as well as great tips!
You can use HitchWiki to find a good starting point (which is the most important thing) and to inform yourself about the city and country. For example, if you put Valencia, Spain in the search box, you’ll get a lot of suggestions and information about Valencia.
This is also where CouchSurfing comes in handy – you can send CouchRequest to hitchhikers so they can help you with their advice if the city is not listed on HitchWiki. (Only the bigger cities are listed on HitchWiki.)
And why would anyone want to hitchhike? Well, besides the obvious (saving money), you get to meet a lot of interesting people who will always tell you a lot of stories about the city, the country and you will also practise Spanish in Spain with native speakers!
Now, get your backpack ready and go out there and embrace the world.
Ask yourself: Are you born to be wild? Have fun and take care!
AIP student and intern, 2013