How to Travel Through 20+ Countries with Free Room and Board

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Casey Fenton founded Couchsurfing.org, which connects millions of travelers with free accommodation around the world. (Photo by Alexandra Liss)

I met Alexandra Liss on a rainy day last September, outside of one of my favorite Thai restaurants in San Francisco.

Alex had just returned from six months abroad, traveling through 21 countries for free while shooting her full-length documentary, One Couch at a Time. She was wrapping up the film and had requested an interview with me.

Our topic of discussion? The Sharing Economy.

Startups that are part of this “sharing economy” — like TaskRabbit, AirBNB, Uber, and Sidecar — have given us unprecedented access to incredible experiences and resources, allowing many people to completely upgrade their lifestyles. By capitalizing on underused resources and new technology, people can live many strata above their income. In Alex’s case, she was able to raise $8,000 through Kickstarter to crowdfund her travel and the making of her film. She also lived rent-free during those six months, staying with more than 80 different strangers she’d met through Couchsurfing.org.

In this post, Alex shares exactly how she’s managed to become a couchsurfing guru, and the steps you can take to travel the world on next to no budget…

Enter Alex

I love the look people get on their face the first time they hear about Couchsurfing.

I might mention how I’ll be hosting a revolutionary leader from Egypt, or that I’ll be crashing in the heart of the Amazon on a stranger’s couch. They inevitably tilt their heads like confused puppies.

Of course, once they’ve experienced Couchsurfing and understand how it works, their whole attitude changes. Nearly all of them end up loving it. Me? I can’t get enough of it.

After six months of sleeping in 80 different homes — staying with people I’d never met — I can definitively say that Couchsurfing has enriched my life more than anything else. In fact, I believe this site is changing our entire world for the better, one couch at a time.

What is Couchsurfing?

Couchsurfing.org is an online hospitality network that connects travelers to free places to stay all over the world. There are more than 4 million globetrotters and backpackers, in 80,000 cities, who want to share their homes and time with you… at no cost!


Couchsurfers are all over the world. This map shows the areas with the highest concentration of members.

A great host can offer a fellow surfer some of the richest experiences of their lives — and vice versa — all without a euro, rupee, dinar, peso, yen, shilling, or dollar being exchanged. Simply for the love of hanging out with a kindred soul.

Couchsurfing has brought more amazing people and incredible adventures into my life than I can count. Thanks to my hosts, I’ve met Peruvian Shamans, zipped through Ho-Chi Minh, taken boat rides in the delta of Maun, hiked to hidden spots in Victoria Falls, sat VIP during the Spanish Valladolid finals, ridden horses on an Afrikaans farm… The list goes on and on.

The bonds that form through Couchsurfing are on a completely different level from those that arise in hostels. Hosts will go out of their way to pick surfers up at the airport, open up their homes, cook exotic meals, and share their world. They can also readily show you the hidden gems in their city, unearthing attractions that you’d never find in a ‘Lonely Planet’ book. If you’ve ever wanted to get the Anthony Bourdain VIP treatment, Couchsurfing is for you.

But it’s not just the surfers who benefit; being a host can be tremendously rewarding, as well. For instance, my hosts in Morocco, Vietnam, and Brazil all use CouchSurfing as a means to improve their English. Others simply enjoy meeting new people and hearing interesting stories from the road. I get just as much enjoyment out of showing travelers around my city as I do being hosted. My appreciation for San Francisco is instantly revitalized whenever I see the wide-eyed look on a grateful CouchSurfer’s face, looking upon a site they’ve only seen in the movies.

Whether you’re hosting or surfing, it’s a win-win for both parties.

“Isn’t it dangerous?”

Everyone has a fair amount of skepticism when they first hear about Couchsurfing. The number one question I get from people is: “What if you stay with an axe murderer?”

My friend Eric, who hosted me in Paris, had this to say about the perceived “dangers” of Couchsurfing:

“When I first heard about CouchSurfing, I thought to myself, ‘There is no way am I going to stay with strangers and get raped, robbed, and murdered.’ But I was curious enough about the concept, so I did some research and made a profile. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! It completely changed my life and has afforded me to see the world.”

As with anything in life, there are always potential dangers, but most risks can be easily avoided (more on this in the next section). As long as you adhere to community guidelines and use common sense, you are very likely to have great experiences.

Ready to give the Couchsurfer lifestyle a shot? Fantastic!

Here’s my advice for anyone who wants to travel rent-free…

8 Steps to Become a CouchSurfing Guru

1. Create a detailed profile.

Your profile is your key to the Couchsurfer’s kingdom. It allows hosts to learn about and trust you before meeting, and it will be a magnet for other fun surfers wanting to connect. It will behoove you to invest enough time and energy into building an awesome profile.

Here’s a screenshot of mine:

I cannot stress enough how important it is to accurately represent yourself. There’s no use in trying to be someone you’re not, or being bashful about your spiritual beliefs or diet preferences. If something is really important to you, then tell people! Show the community who you really are! The more information you can provide other members with, the better odds of everyone having positive exchanges.

Here’s what you’ll need to do in order to create a great profile:

  1. Register on Couchsurfing.org. After signing up, you’ll be asked if you’d like to verify your profile with a contribution. You can skip this part for now (we’ll cover it in “Step 2: Verify Your Profile”) and begin creating your profile right away. Just click your name in the top left corner, then click ‘Profile.’
  2. Post 5-10 pictures of yourself. We are visual animals, so don’t be afraid to upload a bunch of fun photos of yourself (ideally from any global excursions you’ve been on). Make sure the photos are interesting or remarkable, which gives fellow surfers material to start a conversation with you.
  3. Fill out your profile. There are a lot of fields to complete, but don’t worry! You don’t have to complete everything all at once. Fill out as much as you can, then polish up the rest when you’re up to it. [Since I host a lot of surfers, I included a note in my profile to spell the word “couch” correctly when messaging me. You’d be surprised how many people request to stay on your “coach.”]

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed with the task at hand, relax! Spend some time looking at other members’ profiles, take notes on what you like and dislike, then emulate your favorites when you’re ready to get started. And if you need a starting point, here’s my profile. Feel free to use it as a cheat sheet!

2. Verify your profile.

There are two primary methods for verifying your profile, which are designed to increase security and trust with members on the site. Both are technically optional, but I can assure you that you’ll have a much harder time getting started without having one or both of these:

  1. Personal references. Ask a few of your friends to leave a positive reference for you, which shows the community that you are a worthwhile person to host or surf with. If none of your friends have profiles on Couchsurfing, check out some of the local activities and meet up with couchsurfers in your area. Let them know you just joined the site, and after you’ve made a few friends, kindly ask if they’d be willing to vouch for you.
  2. Credit card verification. As mentioned in Step 1, you can pay a contribution to “lock in” your name and address. You’ll be mailed a postcard in 1-2 weeks with a code that you can enter into the site.

Members trust members who have been verified, so do not skip this step!

3. Seek compatible hosts/surfers.

Now that you have the two most important pieces in play, it’s time to get the ball rolling. Click ‘Surf’ or ‘Host’ in the site’s navigation bar, enter in your destination, and begin looking through the list of members in the area.

You can also set a number of filters to improve your search results, including:

- Age
– Gender
– Language
– Keywords (e.g. “vegetarian filmmaker”)
– Has photos
– Has been verified
– Most recent login
– Apartment is wheelchair accessible

Take some time to go through all the profiles in these results. It reallys pay off to thoroughly examine a potential host’s/surfer’s profile before you decide to contact them. That means reading their description, scanning their photos, and going through each of their references. Some hosts will want to hang out with surfers; others are short on free time. Some hosts own three cats, or they need to wake up at 5:30 AM… Whatever the case, you can easily avoid mishaps and unpleasant experiences by figuring out what their expectations are of you.

Couchsurfing’s official recommendations for finding compatible hosts and surfers.

Although the chances of an ax murderer hosting or surfing with you is slim-to-none, I always always ALWAYS read people’s profiles diligently. I do not share interests in “making hair dolls” or “watching you sleep,” so I do my best to steer clear of members who could pose a problem.

Once you’ve found a fellow Couchsurfer whose expectations and priorities appear to be aligned with yours, it’s time to reach out!

4. Write legendary requests

The purpose of your first message is to show the recipient how great it would be for you two to connect (it is NOT to immediately reserve a free couch). If you can successfully show that you’re someone they have to meet, a friendly dialogue will begin and you can make plans from there.

Here are a few ways you can create legendary requests:

  1. Make it personal. This is absolutely essential. No matter how many requests you send out, every single one should be custom-tailored for its recipient (cut-and-paste CouchRequests are so obvious!)
  2. Create a video request. If you really want to stand out, record a video with the camera on your computer and appeal to your host directly. Upload it to Youtube as an unlisted video, then send them the link. This might take longer than writing a message, but it gives them a much better idea of how well you’ll get along and improves your chances of being accepted.
  3. Write a catchy headline. Include something about who you are and/or how you want to connect. For instance, one surfer sent me a request during a very busy week. She grabbed my attention in her title (“SOS Fellow Entrepreneur Coming to San Fran!”), then mentioned our similar interests in books and dancing. I made sure to meet up with her the following day!
  4. Make it memorable. No one likes boring messages, so include at least one thing in your message that makes you stand out. Mention something you both have in common, suggest cooking them a homemade dinner, talk about your life path or your love for Mario Kart… anything that sets you apart from the crowd.

Be respectful when you reach out to other members. Remember: Surfing is a privilege, not a right. When someone writes a lame request, where they show no interest in their host but free accommodation, it destroys their chances.

Here is an example of what NOT to write in a request:

Hi, my name is Anna, im 20 years old student. I am in New York for summer and am looking for coach. Looking forward to hearing from you – email me on ***@gmail.com

And yes, that is an actual message I received.

The correspondence you have beforehand establishes your connection with this person, so be sure to do it right!

Send CouchRequests to five members, 1-2 weeks prior to your arrival, and you’ll have a couch lined up in no time.

5. Preparing for your surf.

Once your host agrees on having you stay with them, you’ll need to exchange contact and travel information. Here’s what both parties should know…

If you’re surfing:

  1. Confirm your arrival and departure date. Although you might change these dates, it’s always polite to set reasonable parameters. This is CouchSurfing, not CouchLiving, so be clear when you’ll be in and out.
  2. Write down your host’s address and phone number, and enter it in your cell phone. I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to charge my phone when entering a new country. When traveling, expect for some type of miscommunication or technology fail.
  3. Have a backup plan! Whether it be your creeper meter or inevitable failings of plans – you need to have a back up. You’re in a foreign country and always need safeguards. Make sure you have established contact with a few other CSers who you might be able to call/message in an emergency, as well as the locations of some hostels before you arrive. Also, knowing where the nearest Internet cafes are can help you in a pinch to try to find a new place to stay if necessary.

If you’re hosting:

  1. Send the surfer your address, phone number, and directions to your couch. Include any details about hidden keys or codes to get in (assuming you’re comfortable with this). And if you’re feeling generous, offer to pick them up.
  2. Have their couch ready and room tidy.
  3. Have a few local recommendations in mind. Your surfer will want to know the must-sees and tastiest dishes. This is your chance to show the best of your hometown!

One more thing… CouchSurfing is NOT a dating site. Don’t make your host or surfer uncomfortable by crossing into OKCupid territory. And yes, I’d be lying if I said I’d never been attracted to a host or surfer. I’m just saying… keep it classy.

Let the surfing begin!

6. Immerse yourself in their culture.

Congratulations, you’re not in Kansas anymore! It’s time to mute your hometown identity and embrace this new culture. This is harder than it sounds at first, but you will quickly get the hang of it.

Here are a few tips to make your time in this new world much more pleasant:

Avoid tourist tendencies. See the spots you want to see, but don’t follow what every tourist does. If your host is willing, let them take you off the beaten path to their favorite local spots. And whatever you do, leave your “I <3 NYC” t-shirt in your bag.

“When in Rome…” If you’re in a different country, curb your ethnocentrism and attempt to assimilate. Learn how to say “hello” and “thank you” in the native language. Respect their customs, try new foods, use the hole-in-the-ground toilet, be willing to go out when you are tired… In short: show your appreciation!

Facebook surgery. You’re traveling, nerd! Peel yourself away from the computer and go explore :) Your friends will withhold their ‘Likes’ of your photos until you return.

7. Express any concerns or issues.

If, at any time, you aren’t happy with your CouchSurfer’s behavior, be sure to tell them why. In most cases, the problem will be unintentional or a cultural difference. But if you don’t speak up, your CouchSurfer might never know they’ve bothered you (or vice versa). And if the awkward antlers keep cropping up and lines are repeatedly crossed, it’s your duty to warn the community of your experience in your reference.

In my over 150 CouchSurfing experiences, I have never had to leave a negative reference or had one left about me. However, I’ve had countless instances of cultural misunderstandings and uncomfortable learning experiences. For instance, when I was traveling through Cambodia with my Pakistani friend, Zohra, I thoughtlessly made an off-color comment about terrorism. Whoops. My “sense of humor” was extremely offensive to her, and when I learned about the atrocities she lives with everyday in Pakistan, I realized I’d been watching too many episodes of South Park. Best to leave your amateur hour material at home.

8. Leave the couch better than you found it.

When it’s time to hit the road, make sure that you tidy up and leave your room spick-and-span. If you borrowed anything, double-check that you’ve returned it. If your host isn’t at home when you leave, make sure that you know how to secure the door correctly. Leave a handwritten note or a gift from your home country to say “thanks.”

Last but not least, leave them a thorough reference. If your host treated you well, be sure to write positive things about them so other CouchSurfers will want to stay with them! And if you set the bar with a kick-ass reference, they will usually return the favor.

Final Thoughts

The age of sharing is just beginning. I’ve experienced first-hand the inspiration and transcendence that regularly takes place, and I plan to be a CouchSurfer for life. I want my future children to grow up around different cultures and instill sharing and exchange. And when I’m too old to travel myself, I’ll be hosting from my rocking chair.

###

If you’ve ever fantasized about taking time off to globe-trot, I would highly recommend Rolf Pott’s Vagabonding. It is one of only two books I took with me when I traveled the world for 18 months. Outside Magazine founding editor Tim Cahill calls Vagabonding “the most sensible book of travel related advice ever written.”

I recently partnered with Rolf to release the exclusive audiobook for Vagabonding. For more on this incredible book, click here.

Do you have a story about how Couchsurfing or the sharing economy changed your life? Tell us in the comments!

Also, there are two public screenings of One Couch at a Time coming up soon…

- San Francisco – January 17th (tomorrow) @ 6:30PM at The Hub SOMA, 901 Mission St. (Buy tickets here)

- Los Angeles – January 26th @ 6:30PM at Just Cause Entertainment, 4130 Del Ray (Buy tickets here)

We’d love for you to come join us! (If you’d like to request a screening of the film in your city, click here.)

Posted on: January 16, 2013.

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121 comments on “How to Travel Through 20+ Countries with Free Room and Board

      • Not sure if he’s referencing this, but when CS converted from a non-profit status to that of a B Corporation in 2011, a lot of the hardcore CouchSurfers were very upset. CS’ goal was to connect people, not make money. The users felt like they were the ones that were really maintaining and building the community, and now the greedy corporation was going to step in and ruin it all with it’s dirty monetization plan. There’s still a lot of resentment over this within the community.

        Like

      • Ah… thanks, Scott. I don’t know the details, but I can say this: running a non-profit is tough. It’s also hard to attract the best talent. From what I know, the B Corp is a great approach for building socially-conscious (by requirement) businesses that are sustainable through for-profit revenue streams. Having seen a lot of good done by such companies, it strikes me as an investment in the future, but I could be off base. Sadly, a lot of the most talented people leave non-profits after a few years, and offering them financial rewards for good work that does good seems like a good move to me.

        Like

      • I know, sometimes a compromise is needed…but I’m not sure there was the need for it. People got angry because of the changes in terms and policies (https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/threads/petition-opposing-the-new-terms-of-use-for-couchsurfing+13140090) and honestly they have a point. As Marx’s Capital teaches us: CS without its community is nothing and the community is made by active users. From my personal experience I must say that since I started CSing in 2007 things have changed too much. It has become just a social network with people boasting on how many places they visited, with everyone being a meditation fanatic, pictures and posts. It has lost its ‘Unique naivety’ (in a good way), just to get to more people and to become more mainstream. It’s a shame as I’ve had fantastic experiences in the past with it, but I’m finding it very hard right now. That old CS spirit has gone!

        Like

      • From what I remember from the transition email, I thought they were denied non-profit status — they couldn’t justify it to the powers that be. But that’s just a vague recollection.

        Like

      • I’ve been on Couchsurfing for about 7 years. I couchsurfed all over Europe, the US, Israel, Central America and South America with my husband and young daughter. It was fantastic. I even became a so-called Ambassador. As time passed, though, the people we met changed, and the interactions weren’t as fulfilling.

        I never had an issue with it changing from non profit to corporation, because from my perspective, the community had already changed. Much of the original community became less active, and it became more a place to get a free place to stay and party.

        There seemed to also be distracting degree of internal politics at play within the organization. I saw it clearly when I entered the ambassador only message boards and also when I served for a short time on one of the teams. I didn’t get involved in the politics, though, so I can’t talk to much about it.

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      • Also, it has become significantly different since 2011 — it actually took venture capital. That put off a lot of couchsurfers because the community is all about being free, but taking venture means they might have to become profit motivated.

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      • I understand the fear but don’t think it needs to damage the company. Take Evernote, for instance. Free forever, used that way by 99% of users (I’m guessing). Those who want bonus features or added services can choose paid add-ons.

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      • It’s being used to rent condos etc in places like KL :( .
        I checked out more than 10 such arrangements, usually these are run by students, they rent a condo (3 bed, 2 showers) and let the 3 rooms, and in the name of couchsurfing the student-landlord sleeps on the couch in the living room :). BTW these couch surfing rooms are far more expensive and crowded than renting a room through normal channels :). No thanks !
        BTW you ROCK Tim :), been on the move for the last 3 years, all sorted, in Sri Lanka at the moment, next Thailand (for the 8th time) and Japan :)

        Like

      • As a long-term Couchsurfer, it wasn’t the B Corporation thing that put me off, but the change in the ways of doing things and the change of focus from hosting/surfing to events and recruiting people to for-profit events.

        For example, I was a moderator of the Tokyo group and city ambassador for Tokyo, but after the site redesign I made a short post in the Tokyo feed (new version of message board) commenting about how Couchsurfing is changing and why I had decided to stop hosting events, etc…
        I had hosted a monthly event in Tokyo that ran regularly for about 4 years, but decided that the site was taking on too many for-profit events and it was becoming a competition for who can get the most people to come to their event. I didn’t want to be part of that.
        My post was censored and deleted completely off of couchsurfing within a few hours with no contact to myself whatsoever. I commented on that, and it was censored as well. As moderator/ambassador for Tokyo for years, I found it very strange that the higher-ups decided to censor even my posts without any explanation at all. It’s clear they’re strongly controlling what goes on in CS now. Most people like me who love CS at its core but don’t dig that kinda stuff have just slowly faded away from CS.

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    • It’s foolish to be upset over the fact that a free service you use (and get tremendous value from) wants to make money.

      Give me a break. CouchSurfing has been getting better every year for the last 5 years that I’ve been enjoying it.

      “Too bad couchsurfing became so commercial”? BS! Give me a break.

      On a positive note, WWOOFing is also an excellent way to see the world without much coin. WWOOFs is perhaps more culturally inclusive too.

      Get dirty travelers! The world is out there, and it’s awesome!

      Like

    • The phrase that jumped at me early in the post is “underused resources” – find a way to transfer value from original to new owner/user and you have another killer idea! Anyone?

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      • Good point :), what are the underused resources ? I got free private transport worth 100s of $ in Thailand :) because no one was using it :)

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  1. Love Couchsurfing!

    Did it in Chicago, Amsterdam, and Italy last year! The experience is so much more richer than a hotel or hostel. Really great article/blog Alex! Hope the doco goes well for you!

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    • This sounds fun. I have slight reservations. Segments of Kiev within the Ukraine in particular is not entirely diversity friendly no matter how educated and well behaved one is. This style of tourism seems like it might aggravate the ‘freeloader’ stereotype. No divisiveness intended but this is an aspect of the world we live in and certain people certain places make it relevant to consider for safety purposes. I’m very interested in the experiences of persons of color when it comes to this method of sightseeing. I’m curious to learn how to find safe places with universally friendly people

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  2. This is awesome. Love the note at the end, Tim. My wife and I backpack for a few months every year. We will be incorporating all of this info into our next trip starting August. Headed to the Tatry Mountains in Poland to get married, and then lost together… :) Purchased our first one-way tickets too!

    So timely. Thanks Tim and Alex!

    -Ryan

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  3. Couchsurfing sounds awesome! When I first heard about it in the $100 Startup, I was very curious on how the entire process worked. Thanks for this killer post! I’m definitely going to have to use couchsurfing for at least one of my trips.

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  4. Glad to see CouchSurfing getting featured! I’ve been using the site for four years and I’ve had many positive experiences.

    It’s the perfect match for a road trip.

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  5. I started an online business not too long after reading the 4HWW, and these days I have the income and flexibility to hop around the globe as I please. I lived in 4 countries last year, and I’ll be changing cities every 3 months this year.

    The most exhausting part of hopping around the globe like this is making new friends, but because of CouchSurfing, I’m able to break into social circles and build a great group of friends within a matter of weeks.

    I’ve hosted probably 25 people over the past 5-6 years, but I’ve never really CouchSurfed. People that hear about the site for the first time think that it’s just about sharing sofas, but it’s much more than that. It’s a community for open-minded people who like to explore new cultures and meet make new friends from all over the world.

    Really, it’s hard for anyone who hasn’t had a lot of experience with CouchSurfing to really grasp what it’s all about… it’s all all about the experience, and you have to see it first-hand to really understand it.

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  6. Hi Tim,

    Great to listen to you again tonight in Oxford (shame the audio setup wasn’t quite up to scratch), I’m sure some people who left did so because they couldn’t hear.

    My wife and I have been using couchsurfing and other similar sites (Hospitality Club, Servas and Globalfreeloaders) for nearly 9 years now and the different approach to travelling has opened our eyes to different cultures, countries and the introduced us to some of our now closest friends who just happen to be spread all over the world.

    I can honestly say after all these years of hosting and surfing, we’ve not had one single bad experience – there have been a few small issues that sometimes arise due to different approaches to things but these are very rare.

    We decided before we started using sharing sites that 99% of people in the world are really nice people just that we haven’t met and that if we came across any of the 1% then we would be extremely unlucky. On the other side of things we’ve experienced extraordinary acts of kindness from people that had barely even met us (one lady even left us the key to her house when she was away for the weekend – even though we’d never met).

    It’s definitely worth a try sometime, as with all things in life you only get out of it what you put in. Look us up if you ever need a host/guide in London (http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=885LG0) or Melbourne/Australia.

    Cheers,

    Tim

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  7. This is a fantastic article with really useful tips for first-time members. Thanks Alexandra and Tim for writing and we’re so excited to come to the screening tomorrow night. Break a leg!

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  8. CouchSurfing is awesome! I’ve been a member for four or five years, and it’s an amazing way to meet new people and really delve into local cultures. I will always prefer hostels, because of the coming together of multiple cultures in one other culture (plus the party vibe), but CouchSurfing definitely rocks, and is highly suggested for all travelers!

    Like

  9. The sharing economy is a lot like a Resource Based Economy which is a phrase coined by Futurist Jacque Fresco founder of The Venus Project. It is a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.

    Modern society has access to highly advanced technology and can make available food, clothing, housing and medical care; update our educational system; and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy. By supplying an efficiently designed economy, everyone can enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities of a high technological society.

    A resource-based economy would utilize existing resources from the land and sea, physical equipment, industrial plants, etc. to enhance the lives of the total population. In an economy based on resources rather than money, we could easily produce all of the necessities of life and provide a high standard of living for all.

    Money is only important in a society when certain resources for survival must be rationed and the people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such.

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    • Wow. The eternally recurrent Communist Ideal. Ultimate panacea for people who do not produce anything others consider valuable. Good luck with that. The high technology you praise was produced by a capitalist society, with all its flaws.

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      • Communism being similar to a resource-based economy or The Venus Project is an erroneous concept. Communism has money, banks, armies, police, prisons, charismatic personalities, social stratification, and is managed by appointed leaders. The Venus Project’s aim is to surpass the need for the use of money. Police, prisons and the military would no longer be necessary when goods, services, healthcare, and education are available to all people. The Venus Project would replace politicians with a cybernated society in which all of the physical entities are managed and operated by computerized systems. The only region that the computers do not operate or manage is the surveillance of human beings. This would be completely unnecessary and considered socially offensive. A society that uses technology without human concern has no basis of survival. Communism has no blueprint or methodology to carry out their ideals and along with capitalism, fascism, and socialism, will ultimately go down in history as failed social experiments.Just because the technology that can make this paradigm shift in society feasible, came from a capitalist society does not mean we need to continue to use this system to evolve and grow as a human race. The “that’s the way we’ve always done it” excuse is only made by those who complain about current state of affairs and fail to be part of the solutions. Earth is abundant with plentiful resources. Our practice of rationing resources through monetary control is no longer relevant and is counter-productive to our survival.

        People are moving in this direction with or without you, and that is clearly presented in this article as well as various sites on the internet. Some examples: Crowd Sourcing, Global Campaign for the 4-Hour Work Day, B Corporation, Fashioning Change, It Starts With Us, Love Drop, Love Bomb and the list goes on.

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      • “a cybernated society in which all of the physical entities are managed and operated by computerized systems”

        Hey, yeah! I saw that movie! THX15…..THX178…..what was it called? Yeah, great movie! A model for our future.

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  10. I tried Couchsurfing last year in SE Asia and it was awesome. Met some really cool people from all over the world. The best part was the couchsurfing parties once a week where you could meet all the other couchsurfers and hosts.

    There are some hosts who are just trying to hookup, but it was never a huge problem. If you’re a girl and you want to avoid that then look for female hosts, of course.

    David

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  11. When I first saw the title of this article I thought, “Couchsurfing, duh!”

    I just started getting involved in CS a few months ago, hosted my first surfers last month and it was awesome…2 girls that had ridden bikes from Canada to TJ!! It was a great experience, met some great new interesting friends, and got to show off my city.

    Can’t wait to watch the documentary!

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  12. I love the idea of a video request when looking for a couch. It gave me an idea: why not post an intro video (link) on your main CS profile page? It can be a great opportunity to show off your digs when hosting, or your personality when surfing. I’m going to get on that…thanks, Tim. Also, CONGRATS ALEX!!!

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  13. I’ve “surfed” more than 35 different people’s homes using Couch Surfing! Amazing concept and excellent website to allow people to do this.
    I was getting tired of the typical backpackers experience – Couch Surfing reinvigorated my passion and love of travel!

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  14. While many talk about the benefits of being a surfer, it’s also awesome as a host. My wife and I have hosted about a dozen couchsurfers and each one was a positive experience.

    Some stories:

    – We hosted a girl named Gul, a Turkish national who was going to school in Detroit. She stayed with us over Thanksgiving break, where she had her first American thanksgiving. We then drove to the beach as she had never seen one, then drove all the way to New Orleans for a party.

    – We hosted a 4H club who were going to hike and bike up the Underground Railroad trail. They financed this trip by becoming really good at ballroom dancing and performing for audiences.

    – We hosted Basil, an Indian national who worked for a satellite company and was coming into town for India fest. His dad was a colonel in the Indian army and has a farm in South India. With elephants. Hopefully we still have a standing invitation to visit his family back in India!

    – We hosted a guy who was down on his luck, had lost his job in the housing collapse and was going to New Orleans to find work, and he was trying to save as much money as possible. He had a tough few years and it helped us to gain perspective on our own situation.

    – We hosted a couple from Georgia who needed a place to stay overnight because the wife (who was pregnant) had to make it back to UGA to do tests. We saw them for a total of 4 hours and they left us a wonderful note even though we didn’t see them.

    These are just a few of the great experiences you can have as a host, you can meet a ton of cool people and have interactions you would not normally have in your own community. I highly recommend it.

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