A Week-In-The-Life of Melanie: Long-Term Couchsurfing in California

Melanie Cobb is a writer, Life Transformation Coach, and Professional Wild Woman. In the summer of 2012, she left her lucrative career on the east coast to live in her car as she traveled the country in search of a new home. After six months on the road, she fell in love with Santa Cruz, California. She still travels often, but now from her home base nestled between the redwoods and the Pacific Ocean. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Melanie, long-term couchsurfing in California!

This post was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content. 

SEE ALSO: How to Get Free or Cheap Accommodation Around the World, including a section on Couchsurfing

Day One: Saturday

8:00am – I begin with my daily morning meditation, then head out back to collect eggs from the chickens for breakfast. What began as a week of couchsurfing with this kind family has turned into four months (with a month off in between for a spontaneous trip to Hawaii).

My adopted family, as I now refer to them, has built a peaceful, country compound in the middle of Santa Cruz, complete with chickens, a bunny, several cats, a turtle, a wood-burning pizza oven, a bocce court, home-brewed beer, and several dinner parties a month. I have my own room. Sometimes I come home to leftovers with my name on them in the fridge. This is kindness like I’ve never experienced it before.

12:00pm – I head to my final shift at the local coffee shop. I had picked up a job as a barista to rebuild my travel budget after six months of U.S. travel, and have now saved enough (along with my tax return) to quit and focus on writing my book and coaching my clients full-time. Yay! Dreams of location-independent, self-employment coming true!


8:00pm – I go out for a few drinks with my co-workers to celebrate.

Day Two: Sunday

8:30am – I take my coffee and laptop to the front porch for a Skype coaching session with a client from Maryland. The pond trickles behind me, the wisteria hanging overhead intoxicates me with its scent, and the morning California sun warms my face. I could get used to an office like this.

10:15am – I attend an inspiring service at Inner Light Ministries, a “new thought” church that I have been visiting since being here in Santa Cruz. My spirituality is central to my life, and has given me the courage to take many of the past year’s leaps into the unknown. I have been shown, again and again, that the universe is a benevolent place, and I am outrageously loved and cared for.

1:00pm – I walk next door to my friend Laina’s house for a brainstorming session about my book and some shared work time. It can get lonely sitting in front of a computer by myself all the time. I take company wherever I can!

3:00pm – Back home for a nap, a phone call to my parents in Pennsylvania, then a thorough house cleaning (which I do every Sunday as a contribution to my stay, since they won’t accept money).

Day Three: Monday

8:00am – morning meditation, breakfast

9:30am – At my beautiful front porch office, I conduct a Skype interview as part of my book research.

11:00am – With just enough time in between to grab a second cup of coffee, I hop onto my next Skype session – this time a coaching client from Washington state.

2:00pm – I bike downtown to my favorite café to revise the second chapter of the book and send it off to my writing group.

5:00pm – Switching to another café, I take a break from writing for one of my favourite activities – travel research. Alaska is the only state I have yet to visit. Should I go before leaving California? Wait until after a visit home with my family? When are fares cheapest? When are mosquitos lowest?

Day Four: Tuesday

8:00am – morning meditation

9:00am – Blog at a coffee shop downtown.

11:00am – Take a break to stretch my legs on a walk around town. I run into Tito, the sidewalk tarot card reader who has become a friend, so I stay and chat with him for a while. He often provides welcome conversational distractions in between my writing sessions.

12:00pm – To yet another coffee shop to work on the book.

4:00pm – My friend Taj calls, and asks if I’d like to take a walk on the beach with him and his wife. Yay! Another social break from writing. We talk, laugh, and walk a couple of miles on west cliff drive as the sun sets over the seals and surfers still in the water.

west cliff of California; photo by Melanie Cobb, couchsurfing

9:00pm – My host, Heidi, returns from a long day, and we have girl talk on the couch for a couple of hours before bed.

Day Five: Wednesday

10:00am – Bike to the downtown farmer’s market and load up on fruit, vegetables, eggs, cheese, sausage, sauerkraut, and flowers. Stop to listen to some of the usual buskers. Also, take in the sights of all the crazy, cool, California hipsters with their faux hawks, neck tattoos, gauged ears, and skateboards . I love the “suuuuper chill” vibe of the folks here!

drums and piano being played at the market

1:00pm – It is a beautiful day, so I throw on my bikini, sarong, and denim shorts, and bike to one of my usual beach spots. I journal and brainstorm for the book while laying on the sand, listening to waves, and watching a pack of dolphins pass by close to shore. Can’t ask for a better place to work!

Melanie Cobb working at the beach in California, while couchsurfing

6:00pm – Date night! It’s tough to date while never really staying anywhere for too long – which is fine, because I also left a relationship behind when embarking on this trip and have mostly been enjoying my time of single-hood. Nonetheless, a girl’s allowed to have a little fun once in awhile! We ride the roller coaster at the boardwalk, grab Thai food for dinner, and walk on the beach after sunset under a nearly-full moon.

Day Six: Thursday

8:00am – morning meditation, a bit of writing

9:30am – yoga

11:00am – A friend from back east is visiting San Francisco for work. She has invited me to join her at her friend’s beach house in a tiny, coastal town called Stinson Beach, just north of the city. I drive two hours in the sun, with the windows down and the music up, over the Golden Gate Bridge and around ten miles of windy, breathtaking scenery of ocean meeting cliff on the famous Route 1. I love California.

driving the California coast

4:00pm – The girls’ evening commences with wine, cheese, great conversation, a sunset beach walk (full of giant, beached jellyfish), and a backyard fire pit.

Day Seven: Friday

9:00am – We slowly wake, nursing our wine hangovers with coffee and bacon.

10:00am – We take a morning walk along the beach to look for sand dollars, and discover a baby seal, left on the shore by his mother while she fishes for their lunch.

seal sleeping on the beach

12:00pm – We spend the rest of the day lying in the sun – on the porch, in the hammock, at the beach, etc. – reading, writing, chatting, listening to music, and generally enjoying life.

I could think of this weekend at Stinson Beach as a vacation, but really, my whole life is a vacation. I have finally allowed myself to live the way I want each and every day. There is nothing I have to “go back to.” The only thing on the horizon is more sun, more fun, more growth, and more bliss.

Melanie just drove solo across the US (for the fifth time!), and she hopes to hop the ocean to do some couchsurfing in Southeast Asia next. You can visit her at journeytowildness.

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4 thoughts on “A Week-In-The-Life of Melanie: Long-Term Couchsurfing in California”

  1. Sounds like you have been having a great time in California and what a way to spend some time, especially if this is a typical week! Sounds like a lot of fun

    • It certainly is a typical week, and it’s fabulous. When my Dad read it he said, “You didn’t work at all this week!” I guess he missed the skype coaching sessions and the writing at coffeeshops. Work doesn’t have to feel like work when it’s what you love!


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