Couchsurfing.org: Matching People, Couches Across the Globe
Are you someone who loves to travel? Do you love to meet new people? Does a comfy couch sound like a good place to crash? Then Couchsurfing.org is for you. The URL says it all: It allows people to offer and use each others couches, providing a low/no-cost alternative to hotels, hostels and Airbnb. Over its nine year history, the site has built a user base of 5M users across 97K cities.
Rather than mere cheap accommodations, their mission is, “Creating inspiring experiences.” The idea is that there’s a very different experience of a place when you’re crashed out on someone’s couch versus staying in a self-contained room for rent. Hosts often show guests around their cities, host meals and do other things that can give a very authentic sense of place.
What about safety you ask? They have three ways of dealing with safety. First, people can get personal references, sharing what it was like to host, or be hosted by a person. The site offers credit card verification, making sure that a person is who they say they are and lives where they say they live. Lastly, people can “vouch” for one another, whereby a person is recommended by someone who is “extremely trusted by someone who has been vouched for by three other members.” Below is a little video further explaining the process and motivation behind the service.
The site does not charge anything aside from the verification process. This might change soon following the company’s recent controversial move to become a for-profit B-Corporation. It’s not clear how this will affect costs, though it’s reasonable to say it will remain a very low-cost way of finding a place to crash.
Have you used Couchsurfing? What was your experience? Would you use it? Why or why not?
image credit: brianthacker.tv