At some point, when backpackers may find themselves running low on money, sleeping with strangers could be the solution. “What would my mother say?”, you gasp, but hold on, it isn’t half as dirty as it sounds. Strangers all around the world are offering their couches for free to like-minded, easy-going travelers, with no strings attached. In return, you are merely encouraged to offer yours. Easy. Couchsurfing.org is the hospitality website credited with starting the trend more than a decade ago. It now boasts more than nine million members across 120,000 cities worldwide, with membership rising rapidly every day.
From naturalists to Morris dancers, steel-pan enthusiasts to keen language learners, the community is extremely cosmopolitan. Only one thing is certain: wherever you stay, you’ll be swamped with more local knowledge than a Rough Guide could ever contain.
It is true that what the locals’ consider an attraction may be a far cry from your vacation ideal, but couchsurfers have to be flexible.
After all, your night’s sleep depends on it. Politeness and (at times) false-enthusiasm are key characteristics of any couchsurfer, but simple gestures, such as token gifts, go a long way. Complimentary toiletries and fresh towels are in short supply, but this universal hospitality network succeeds in rivaling even the best hotels for location, concierge services, and (occasionally) food.
For cultural immersion and a free night’s kip, for travelers on a budget, sleeping in a stranger’s bed is an increasingly appealing option.
Personally, I have more than 20 references and every stay was incredible. The experience you get is undeniable.