(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**