CouchSurfing

Since 2001 CouchSurfing has become a worldwide phenomena with over 2 million members. Members register their details on a website inviting overseas travelers to stay at their hospitality for a few days, in return when the host goes traveling, they become the CouchSurfer on someone else’s couch in a different country, and so the cycle of goodwill and hospitality begins.

couchsurfing_mediumImagine it. You’ve arrived in a city completely unlike your own, late at night, with nowhere to stay and no idea of where to go. Far, far away from home you know no one, or nothing of this new, but potentially interesting place, so where do you stay and what do you do?

Hospitality comes in many forms, but, if you head to the nearest internet café to search you will find that one of the most unusual forms of hospitality comes in the guise of CouchSurfing. CouchSurfing is a phrase coined literally meaning to sleep on friends couches, sofa’s, settee’s or whatever you call them in lieu of a bed that you don’t own. Often people in between tenancies or temporarily homeless will couchsurf for a few weeks.

Since 2001 CouchSurfing has become a worldwide phenomena with over 2 million members. Members register their details on a website inviting overseas travelers to stay at their hospitality for a few days, in return when the host goes traveling, they become the Couch Surfer on someone else’s couch in a different country, and so the cycle of goodwill and hospitality begins.

The term CouchSurfing was adopted by The CouchSurfing Project in 1999 for what is now the world's largest hospitality exchange network. With over 2.2 million members in 237 countries and territories,[2] CouchSurfing is the most visited hospitality service on the Internet, averaging around 60 million daily page views in July-September 2010.

The mission statement of CouchSurfing is Create Inspiring Experiences: "CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding. As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to create a better world, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal. CouchSurfing is not about the furniture, not just about finding free accommodations around the world; it's about making connections worldwide. We make the world a better place by opening our homes, our hearts, and our lives. We open our minds and welcome the knowledge that cultural exchange makes available. We create deep and meaningful connections that cross oceans, continents and cultures. CouchSurfing wants to change not only the way we travel, but how we relate to the world!" ~ wikipedia

There are members from all over the world from Orlando to Oman, and thousands of success stories. Security-wise it has proven to be a safe option for anyone including lone females, as all members are required to verify their identification and previous Couch Surfers will post stories and experiences of the places they have stayed on the website. It is cheap - it costs nothing but the host’s hospitality, and maybe a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates from the visitor.

One impressed CouchSurfing guest, then host is Kirsten from Sydney, Australia: “I had joined CouchSurfing before setting off for Europe and when I was traveling Germany I found it the perfect way to see Munich. I arranged to stay with two guys, who cooked me a fabulous dinner and showed me the sights of the city, which as a tourist you just wouldn’t see. They were knowledgeable and absolutely fun. It was an experience I would definitely recommend.”

In return for the hospitality given to her by the Germans, and to pass on the good karma that CouchSurfing is all about, Kirsten played host to Nicola from Chicago, USA: “I was studying in Melbourne and really wanted to see Sydney for a few days before I went home. Being a student I was pretty broke, so I checked out CouchSurfing and found Kirsten. I stayed with her for a few days and it was so much fun, seeing the sights and living the Australian life, with Australians rather than with other travelers with whom it’s a very different experience.” Nicola played host to visitors to Chicago later that year, and, as CouchSurfing intended, the cycle of hospitality continues.

So when you’re stuck in a foreign land and need a place to stay, or just a friendly face to show you around, or if you’d like to show someone your own hometown, remember the altruistic hospitality of CouchSurfing, and surf away.

AUTHOR: Rubel Zaman (link no longer active)
SOURCE: http://www.articlealley.com/article_1765117_29.html (link no longer active)

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