SEVIERVILLE (WATE) – Airbnb is a service where families rent out their homes to visitors and there’s a similar online concept called Couchsurfing.
It’s like a Facebook account where out-of-towners reach out to a family who lives where they’re visiting and they stay free of charge. While no money changes hands, many say the gain is all about sharing cultural experiences.
The Hargous family, from France, is visiting Sevier County this week. Their most recent trip to the states started a few weeks ago in Chicago.
“It was a wonderful family with four children. So the children played together and we went to church with them,” said Aude Hargous.
The family then traveled to Chattanooga, Nashville, on to Murfreesboro, Franklin and stopped in Sevierville. Why so much time in Tennessee?
“This time, as she loves country music and practicing line dancing and square dancing, so we decided to come here,” said Eric Hargous.
The whole trip has been done without hotel rooms and expensive overnights. They stay essentially through a good-will network called Couchsurfing.
“To travel for us, the goal of travel is to meet people, to share experience, to share life. So, I can’t imagine travel without Couchsurfing. It’s a part of our travels,” said Aude Hargous.
The Hargous family has experienced their first Halloween and trick or treat.
“The children want to bring it back to France, so we’re having a suitcase full of candy,” added Eric Hargous.
They’re also bringing pieces of their home, near the French Alps, to Tennessee.
“Yesterday we shared a crepe party. So we cooked crepe and we ate together,” said Aude Hargous.
All along the way, the Hargous family has collected memories and taken pictures. One thing they’ve discovered in East Tennessee is a phrase.
“It’s go Vols? Go Vols,” the couple cheered.
The Hargous family says their next stop is Asheville, North Carolina, before they head home to France.
Homeowners and visitors are screened, in that each one provides references via their Couchsurfing profile so that the stopover is safe.