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Travel on the Cheap by Couchsurfing. Travel Exchange

How to Travel for 'Free' While Getting a Richer Experience of What It's Like to Actually LIVE in a Destination by Couch Surfing or Participating in a Home Exchange Network.

Couch Surfing or Hospitality Exchange is far more than getting free lodgings for a night or two.

While it's true that the cost of a hostel, hotel room or inn accommodations can represent a substantial part of a traveler's budget, getting a free place to sleep via a hospitality exchange can provide more than much a place to sleep for the night. At minimum, it can give a glimpse into what it's like to actually live in a particular town or city, experiencing through your host's eyes and experiences the best that city or town has to offer. And at it's very best, can connect kindred spirits, resulting in a life-long friendship.

Hospitality Exchange, According to "... connects travelers with local residents in the cities they're visiting. If travelers can connect with the right people at the right time, they can get room and sometimes board in the place they're visiting for free or at a deep discount.... Home stays have advantages and disadvantages.... accommodation costs are much lower (at most networks for free) than at hotels or even youth hostels .... opportunity to make a personal connection with someone from a different culture and social classes, you see the destination you're visiting from a local perspective....There are disadvantages, though. Home stays require some additional planning before travel, and courtesy requires sticking at least reasonably close to your schedule.... usually strict limits on the length of stay and what you can do in the home..."

Couch Surfing and Hospitality Exchange Networks "..a non-profit organization dedicated to the global community. CouchSurfing was created specifically so that everyone can travel the world and partake in cultural exchange. Staying with a host is also always free; it is contrary to the values of CouchSurfing and against the terms of use to charge someone to surf a couch. Many surfers like to bring their hosts gifts or treat them to a meal as a "Thank you," but this is not a requirement. There are infinite ways to reciprocate goodwill.

"...the idea for CouchSurfing solidified when Casey bought a cheap ticket to Iceland for a long weekend one April. He came up with the 'brilliant' idea of e-mailing over 1500 Icelandic students in Reykjavik and asking them if he could crash on one of their couches. Exchanging emails with many of the students, he then had several groups of friends offer to show him 'their' Reykjavik. After spending an amazing, crazy weekend just south of the Arctic Circle, Casey decided he would never again get trapped in a hotel and tourist marathon while traveling....

  • CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding.

  • The CouchSurfing community strives to do individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing isn't about the furniture- it's not just about finding free accommodations around the world - it's about participating in creating a better world...." is by far the largest travel exchange program, with well over a million registered Couch Surfers and rapidly growing!.

The Hospitality Club "... Our aim is to bring people together - hosts and guests, travelers and locals.... members around the world help each other when they are traveling - be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town. Joining is free, takes just a minute and everyone is welcome. Members can look at each other's profiles, send messages and post comments about their experience on the website. The club is supported by volunteers who believe in one idea: by bringing travelers in touch with people in the place they visit, and by giving "locals" a chance to meet people from other cultures we can increase intercultural understanding and strengthen the peace on our planet....There are no obligations (you do not have to host anyone at your home!), membership is free and we would love to have you in our world wide web of friendly people!... " Over 325,000 members and growing! "... is a network of people willing to accommodate travellers completely at their own convenience, in any way that they can. Completely free of charge. Whether its just a spare mattress or a spare bedroom or even a granny flat. Most budget travellers aren't too picky. :) Think about it...on average approximately one third of a budget traveller's costs are spent on accommodation. Imagine if you could dramatically lower, if not completely eliminate, that cost by being able to stay for free in people's homes all over the world. That means more money in your pocket to spend on having a great time on your travels. Not only do you get free accommodation but you also get the inside knowledge, experience and culture that comes with staying with a local that you'd never be exposed to staying in a hotel or hostel...." Fewer than 100,000 members so far, but growing.

Welcome Guest! ".... a culture crossing network that lets you share a place to sleep, meet up and help others on their way... Create a profile without obligations. Joining and using the network is free!,,,, Imagine arriving in a city like Paris or Mumbai and, instead of trying to find a taxi, there is somebody already waiting for you. Imagine that instead of going to eat at the place recommended by the guidebook, someone shows you their favourite restaurant. Imagine the experience staying as a personal guest of your new friend rather than sleeping in an impersonal hotel room. This is only the beginning. Through our dedicated network of volunteers, we are constantly improving and developing new features which will open up new horizons for our members...."

Servas ".... a worldwide cooperative cultural exchange network established in 1948 and composed of member hosts and travelers working together to foster peace, goodwill and mutual respect.... This international community of friends works together on a volunteer basis to create a climate of mutual understanding and tolerance. Originally called "Peacebuilders," Servas now encompasses over 15,000 homes and institutions in more than 125 countries on six continents. Our members believe that by meeting new people in our own homes and sharing our everyday lives with them, individuals have the power to build the necessary foundations for world peace. a Servas traveler, you may seek homestay exchanges with overnight host families—typically for two days and nights—using the host list as your guide, or meet with "day hosts," who do not offer overnight accommodation but who are interested in meeting Servas travelers. During these visits, travelers are encouraged to participate in the life and work of their hosts and the communities in which they are guests..."


What the Press is Saying About Couchsurfing

Time Magazine "... All that penny-pinching tourists need to travel the globe is a willingness to try something different and access to a new breed of travel website. Some of these electronic bulletin boards, known as hospitality-exchange sites, hook up travelers with locals who don't mind having someone stay in an extra room, crash on an empty couch or even pitch a tent in the yard. Many allow people to take turns hosting one another in their homes. And others arrange work for temporary room and board. A few charge nominal fees, but most are free. "What used to be a fringe hobby for a few travelers is becoming a mainstream phenomenon," says Daniel Hoffer, co-founder of Couch Surfing, which has nearly 470,000 users--up 56% since last year.... But hospitality exchange isn't just about saving a couple of bucks. Users, who vary in age, say it also gives them a more authentic, outside-the-guidebook experience. 'It distinguishes a tourist from a traveler," says Harold Goldstein of Hospitality Exchange. "Instead of just sightseeing, you participate in the daily life of locals.'...."

Couch Surfing at Events

CouchSurfing Camp @ Burning Man "... a place for newbie burners, seasoned burners and the burner who wants to get seasoned. With cayenne! So come participate in creating a better greener world, one dusty mutant couch at a time!.... This is a place to network people with their places, create educational and non-educational exchanges, raise the collective and dispersed consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural as well as non-cultural understandings. And likely a few cocktails and maybe some snacks. CouchSurfing Camp is not just about the playa coated furniture, not just about finding colorful accommodations in the desert; it's about making connections ... connect. We make the world a better place by opening our home (welcome home!), our hearts, and our neighbor's RV. At Black Rock City we will create deep and meaningful connections that cross playa dust storms, oceans, continents, meteor showers and solar flares! CouchSurfing Camp will change not only the way you travel, but how you relate. Come and surf the Mutant Sofa and we'll help you to understand how CouchSurfing is changing the world.... "


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