Tuesday, July 12, 2005

See the world, one couch at a time


Love to travel, but hate staying in (or paying for) hotels? Too old for a youth hostel? Like to meet new people? Don't mind sleeping on a couch?

CouchSurfing might be right up your alley! From their CouchSurfing FAQ:

What is Couch Surfing?
CouchSurfing.com helps you make connections worldwide. You can use the network to meet people and then go and surf other members' couches! When you surf a couch, you are a guest at someone's house. They will provide you with some sort of accommodation, a penthouse apartment or maybe a back yard to pitch your tent in. As a member, you can communicate with other members all over the world and see if there is a person in the place that you'd like to go who is willing to host you. Stays can be as short as a cup of coffee, a night or two, or even a few months or more. The possibilities are endless and completely up to you.

As you might expect, there are a smaller number of CouchSurfers in the more exotic locales, a pretty large group (1,000+) in the U.K. and and Australia, and a whole bunch (about 7,000) scattered throughout the US. There are even a few CouchSurfers in Afghanistan and Iraq, but maybe you don't want that much excitement on your vacation.

But is this safe???
This is one of our most commonly asked questions. We like to answer this in a couple ways. First, not just anyone can become a vouched for OR verified member. All new prospective members can only become vouched for if they are referred by an existing already vouched for CouchSurfing.com member (or if they meet a member and get vouched for after signing up). Every user is linked to the other users he/she knows in the system through a network of References and Friend Links. These features help other users determine how trustworthy you are, based on the quantity and 'quality' of the people you know and also if you've been vouched for.
This icon indicates that a member has been verified to level 3.

This icon indicates that a member has been vouched for.

This icon indicates that a member is a CS Ambassador.

Secondly, we offer verification. By verifying you, we check to make sure your name and address are correct via the verification system. Once you are verified, your profile will show that you are verified. Other people viewing your profile may feel safer about communicating with and meeting you because you are verified. Some people choose to ONLY communicate with other verified members. It's all about your own personal preferences and feeling about safety. For some people, verification may not be important. For others, it is crucial. It's up to you.

Get out there and see the planet. Just don't forget to repay the favor if a fellow CouchSurfer visits your neck of the woods.

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