One signs up, offers up a couch or a place to sleep in exchange for the same treatment elsewhere. Avoid hotels and even hostels and get a local view of wherever you’re visiting. The most frequent concern is one with safety, and, like I’ve seen with hitchhiking, there is some truth to it, but, more often, there is the opportunity for cheap travel and profound interaction.
In preparation for future travels on a limited income, I thought now was the time to finally get on board with another social networking device online.
The Couch Surfing Project is already on a 2.0 model and is nothing new, but it stills gets attention as a sign of the times. This from an article in the Christian Science Monitor last week:
While the cultural exchange that enlivens the world of couch surfing is as old as human wanderlust, the phenomenon itself has moved into the 21st century with a formal movement with a website, a mission statement, precautions, and sophisticated referral and vetting procedures to protect the safety and good intentions of both hosts and travelers.
In short, says futurist and social analyst Marian Salzman, it is the universe of social networking itself, simply pushed into the real world.
There are available couches throughout the world, though mostly clustered in urban sectors. From the Monitor article:
The five-year-old website is currently celebrating “its millionth positive recommendation,” a reference to the peer reviews that members are supposed to write of their experiences of both surfing and hosting surfers.
The average member age is 26, although it ranges as high as 72, and surfers must be 18 to join.
Photo courtesy of Travelistic.com.