The most media-oriented of the free accommodation networks, Couchsurfing connects nearly 3 million subscribers in 230 different countries (the website is translated into 19 languages by its members). Interestingly, it is the French who are most willing to give up their couches, after Americans.
The principle is simple: register on the website and youll be able to host a member in your home and, in turn, stay at a members home somewhere in the world. There is of course no money involved, which is the basis of this concept and its charm.
There are several motivating factors behind such a stay: meeting open and interesting new people, including locals, getting an authentic feel of the country, saving money (of course!), the freedom to travel when and how you want, the possibility to create a global address book and, finally, learning a foreign language by being immersed in it.
To do so, you have to be available, curious and want to meet others with an open mind. A certain tolerance is also necessary and you have to free yourself of many stereotypes and prejudices. This type of experience opens your eyes to other lifestyles and conflicts in other cultures.
In terms of safety, all members are required to undergo an evaluation. With each stay, couchsurfers receive an assessment, which they cannot delete, visible by all members to let others know what kind of guests they were.
Its not just about saving money; its also about creating new connections and truly special moments which can only happen when on holiday You might be interested to know that 80% of the members of this new form of hospitality are less than 35 years old.
Some members offer more than a simple bed; some also invite you to dine with them, to go on a visit of the region, provide tourist information and much more.