Eagle River Teen Couch Surfs Across America (KTVA.com Exclusive)
18-year-old Ariel Zlatovski boy takes the journey of a lifetime
Surprisingly, counting on strangers isn’t a scary process for Ariel. He tries to check references, but there are plenty of times he hasn’t. “I am a fairly trusting person,” he said. “I’ve never had an uncomfortable moment.”
Zlatkovski has some tricks up his sleeves and knows what to look for.
He tends to scout out couples or groups of people to stay with. He said for him it feels “safer” and more fun because it gives him more people to spend time with. Also he finds staying with couples, families or groups is easier on the host than staying with a single person.
“People who have kids, [who are] used to feeding many more people, generally have more resources than, say, a college student, so I tend to look for families.”
Staying with a younger crowd has its benefits too, though. He said that way he gets more “action-packed surfing.”
While in upstate New York, he stayed with Jack, a young seventh-generation farmer in the Adirondacks. He said the duo had a “crazy weekend” that included roller derby, climbing trees and gathering eggs.
Then there were Ernie and Elma, a couple with several “beautiful” children in Amish Country, Pennsylvania. While at their house, he stayed with two Italians who were also using couchsurfing.org.
But his most powerful experience so far has been visiting Ellis Island. “As a first-generation immigrant – I was born in Israel – it was really incredible to see where immigrants used to start their American dreams.”
Surprisingly enough, the serial couch surfer rarely stays on couches. Usually he has his own bed or an air mattress in a room of his own. Once he even stayed in a teepee in Montpelier, Vermont – something he said was an “awesome experience.”
In return for the hosts’ hospitality he tries to set the table or clean up – which some hosts stop him from doing – or he plays with the kids to help give the parents a little bit of a break. He said he would try to cook for them, but “my cooking skills are terrible.”
He has learned a lot about the way other people live, but sometimes it’s also about what he can teach them. “Yesterday, I taught my host how to frolf [Frisbee golf].”
Zlatkovski said his new friend Alex was a quick learner and “a good time was had by all.”
At 18 years old, most people couldn't afford such an adventure, but with careful planning Zlatkovski pulled it off.
After graduation, Ariel worked for seven months at the Apple Store until he had enough money to head out. His parents pitched in to help him buy the car (with plans for Ariel to repay them).