Couchsurfing: The Ultimate (Free) Way to Travel

Traveling on a budget can get quite hectic sometimes, particularly when you need to find somewhere to stay. You could always just stare at a computer mindlessly for hours on end until you find a hotel that just barely fits in your budget margins. Then again, who wants to do that?

Believe it or not, there is actually a way to get accommodate yourself and it won’t cost a dime. Generally referred to as “couchsurfing,” this type of accommodation entails finding someone who resides in the destination you are traveling too, and bunking with them. Whether you actually sleep on a couch or not is up to the host, but couchsurfing is a fantastic way to not only find a place to sleep, but also get insights about the location, and perhaps even a partner to accompany you.

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While knowing people in the location where you’re heading is always ideal, sometimes (well, most of the time) that just isn’t a possibility. Luckily there are a number of sites that cater to the couchsurfing community. Some of the better ones include:

Now if you want my opinion, I will tell you that couchsurfing.org, by far, is the best website for finding suitable hosts. Not only can the couchsurfing network connect you with a fantastic host, but the site also allows users to connect with hosts in the city they’re traveling too, allowing them to interact and learn about the destination.

Sure, staying in hotels usually provides that little bit of luxury, but it lacks in local hospitality. Because you’re able to connect with locals opens up a window for you to learn about all the local restaurants, nightlife, etc. Not to mention, you might make a lasting friendship right there in the apartment. In the end, you might end up liking it so much that you want to make the permanent move there. Better start looking for affordable apartments for rent while you’re there.

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For some, the idea of couchsurfing can be scary since it usually involves staying with someone you have never met before. I’m not going to tell you to let your guard down. Remember though, you’re a complete stranger to the host as well. If they’re willing to allow you to stay in their home, then they are usually open to most things and will likely be very hospitable. In fact, your hosts may even be travelers too, so they will understand exactly what you’re going through.

As far is safety is concerned, the Couchsurfing site has it down to a science. While the site has thousands of users, they must each go through certain security steps in order to build their profiles. Also, there is a verification process that has different levels. As a precaution, you can do your own safety check too. Look for profiles that have a profile picture; not an avatar, an actual picture. Next, check and see if the user’s profile is actually complete. This shows that they are committed enough to provide extensive details about themselves. Finally, comments and ratings act as virtual reviews. Sift through them and see if the user has positive feedback.

In the end, trust your own judgment. Instincts can be wrong, but more often than not, they are right.

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