Traveling on a Budget: A HUGE Tip to Save Money

(Warning: This one’s only for the most adventurous of us travelers)

In a previous post I have already compared the price differences between staying in a hotel or in a hostel, but what if you want a place to stay but don’t even want to spend the amount of money required for a hostel? No worries, you don’t have to live in the dark ally during your next trip, there actually is another option that provides a place to sleep and a roof over your head at a great price: $Free.

They call it CouchSurfing. What does it mean to be a CouchSurfer? Well, for the traveler it means connecting with any number of people around the world that open up their homes for travelers looking to spend time in their city or in their country, and forming tightly connected bonds with different cultures around the world. For the host, CouchSurfing offers the same cultural bonds without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.

I know what you’re already thinking: you must be crazy to allow a stranger you’ve never met into your home or to enter a stranger’s home as a foreigner in another country. But the truth is, CouchSurfing is all about bringing people and cultures together in a relatively safe way. When you register as a CouchSurfer, or browse the profiles of registered hosts, there are a number of different ways you can verify the validity of another member. References are feedback given by other members about a certain member as they describe the experience they had with them. Nobody can delete a references once it has been made, so there is no deleting of poor references. Vouching is a way of showing a sign of trust between two members who have had personal experiences with each other. If a member vouches for somebody they are letting everybody know that they have a strong bonded friendship with this person. When vouching for somebody, members must keep in mind that any possible poor experiences in the future with this person will reflect upon them as well, so vouching is a carefully considered tool. A verified  member is a member that has made a personal donation to the CouchSurfing community in order to keep it running. This is a way for a member to show their devotion to CouchSurfing and fellow CouchSurfers alike. A friends link offers a list of people the CouchSurfer or host actually know, and provides a detailed description of the friendship and how they came to know each other. Still not convinced about safety? Click here to see additional safety precautions taken by CouchSurfing.

Where can you stay– With members in over 230 different countries and 67,000 cities, the possibilities are endless.

Signing up — It’s easy to sign up. All you have to do is create a profile, which should be written carefully so that your future hosts or other surfers could verify that you’re serious about CouchSurfing. Then decide whether or not you want to put your own couch up for grabs. Don’t worry, you don’t have to, but if you want to be fully respected by the community and to completely take part in everything CouchSurfing has to offer it is recommended that you do. This being said, you do not have to allow every member who contacts you to come for a stay, and you can even put that you do not have a couch available, but you are available for a cup of coffee if a surfer is in the area.

Overall, CouchSurfing is a great way to travel on a budget, especially if you aren’t looking for that pampering, beach lazing vacation, and would rather make cultural connections on a personal level with a somebody that could become a lifetime friend. 

To register for CouchSurfing, visit: http://www.couchsurfing.org/ 

**Information gathered from above website** 

       

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Author: Nathan Bush

Nathan Bush is an avid traveler, adventurer, and professional wedding and landscape photographer. His absolute favorite pastime is hiking all the while lugging his camera equipment into the backcountry in order to capture beautiful images of the wild. He currently lives in Colorado with his soon to be wife, Florence.

10 thoughts on “Traveling on a Budget: A HUGE Tip to Save Money”

  1. You know, I was thinking of doing this on my way to Texas this spring, but like may others, I’ve been a little concerned about the safety issues (especially as a woman who’d be traveling alone). I’m glad you wrote this – it’s inspired me to look into it a bit further before I make up my mind.

    Another great way to travel for free is doing a work exchange. It’s how I spent 2 months in Costa Rica with free room and board – and I actually got paid (albeit a very meager amount) for the work I did. It’s a similar concept to WWOOFing, but you’re not necessarily working outside on a farm.

    Thanks again for sharing this great information!

    1. Hey Katie, thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad I could help! Your concerns about safety as a woman traveling alone are quite understandable. To be honest, it is a risk, and I believe a magazine did an article about a very unfortunate incident that did happen to a woman attempting to CouchSurf on her own (this can be found via Google). Personally, if I were you I would at least attempt to stay in another single woman’s home, but even then I’m not 100% sure if I would recommend it for a woman traveling alone. In the end, unfortunately there is always a risk and the individual traveler has to decide if it is worth taking.
      That being said, look into it by creating a profile so that you can view other surfer’s profiles and chat with hosts. Who knows, you might find someone you have a connection with and like what you see.

      Thanks for the tip about work exchange. I’ve never actually heard of WWOOFing so I’m going to look into this. I’m currently looking into different opportunities to teach the English language abroad in other countries after I graduate in May. At least for a little while, I don’t really care how much money I make while doing it, as long as I can travel, earn enough to survive, and retain the ability to write about the experience!

      Thanks for reading!

      1. WWOOFing is definitely an interesting prospect if you want the ability to stay mobile and possibly travel from country to country, but I’ve known many people who’ve done the overseas teaching thing and loved it. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend have been doing that in Spain for the past couple of years (http://boobooradley.blogspot.com/), and while the pay isn’t the greatest, they have awesome hours and have been able to take plenty of amazing trips throughout Europe (and soon Africa). I heard Japan is a great place to do it as well.

        Thanks for the heads-up on the couch surfing incident. Unfortunately, this world just isn’t as well suited for a female Kerouac. 😉

      2. My best friend’s sister also taught in Spain for a year and absolutely loved it, and a customer at my place of work recently recommend Spain to me by saying that it is their absolute favorite place in the world. I have heard and read that teaching opportunities are frequent in Japan, which is why I’m considering there, but I think if I had my choice I would head down to Peru. I want to go back to South America as soon as possible, the only problem is the absurd price of airfare (a year ago a flight from CT to Argentina costed me $2,200). Machu Picchu looks absolutely amazing though. …Oh the choices! If you haven’t figure it out by now, I’m constantly torn by the dilemma of where to plan to travel to next…

        It’s a terrible thing that the world is like that, and even more terrible that people are forced to hold back from what they want to do because of it. But I guess there are some things in life you just can’t change, no matter how hard one might try.

      3. Machu Picchu… Definitely on my list of things to see before I die. I’m guessing Peru isn’t going to be much cheaper than Argentina? Too bad it’s not really “safe” enough to just drive down to the Panama Canal… Now THAT would be a trip!

      4. Yeah Peru is decently as expensive unfortunately. I’ve always dreamed about making a drive south like that; it would be incredible. But, on the other hand, with the price of gas nowadays I’d probably make it as far as South Carolina (I live in Connecticut) before I’d have to have it towed back from lack of cash flow 😛

    1. Hi Samantha,
      I’m actually considering the possibility of spending up to a year in Japan helping to teach the English language. I’m also looking into Peru, but Japan is worth the visit?
      Thanks for the tip, I’ll certainly be looking into this.

  2. Hi Nate,
    I just started blogging on WordPress myself and came across your site – and was very happy to see a post about couchsurfing! I am a big couchsurfer myself, having surfed and hosted dozens of times in Europe. I have never had an outright negative or uncomfortable experience, they have all been positive or even extremely positive, although the occasional person you just don’t really get along with do happen – that’s just human nature. In general though, I really can’t shout the praises of couchsurfing enough, the most important of which, I feel, is regaining a certain level of trust in man kind — because, the truth is, most of us are normal and down-to-earth kind of people… just stop following the sensationalist news and media (I always figure why follow the news when the important stuff is talked about anyways!) .. and learn to trust people again!
    Hope you don’t mind my hippie ramblings, just wanted to express how happy I am to see even one more post telling people about couchsurfing!
    all the best,
    Kasia

    1. Very well said Kasia. I agree with everything you said, especially about regaining faith in man kind. Couchsurfing is a great philosophy. Thanks for your comment, and taking the time to check out my blog. Also, welcome to WordPress! 😀

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