Thursday, August 11, 2005
More Bang for Your Buck: Couchsurfing
When it comes to traveling, there is one guarantee. Each year, you're going to pay more to stay in a hotel. But today, even the best rates can be beaten. In tonight's More Bang For Your Buck, we found a simple way to save you'll want to check out before checking in.
WSVN--The 1960's. It was a time for free speech, free love and free rides. And even though hitchhiking is history, loyal travelers like Guillermo Gomez are keeping the free spirit alive in a very groovy way.
Traveler Guillermo Gomez: "I found out that there is actually a whole network of people."
What Guillermo found was an online hospitality network called the Couchsurfing Project. Instead paying for a hotel, he become a guest in someone's home.
Guillermo Gomez: "You're basically staying somewhere for free. You're saving a lot of money."
There's no doubt, crashing on someone's couch is a cheap way to travel. But the creators of this site, are doing more than saving you money. They're building a global community.
Dan Hoffer: "Couchsurfing is a brokerage for adventure."
Dan Hoffer is one of the founders. He says couchsurfing a great way to see a city through a native's point of view.
Dan Hoffer: "Basically, it's a cultural exchange opportunity for people when they are traveling to instead of staying at expensive hotels really get to know the local culture wherever they go."
And oh, the places you can go. There are hosts in 150 countries. U.S. Alone has over 8 thousand members.
Dan Hoffer: "We have college students and we have people in their 60's people who just like to travel or host people from all over the world."
Joining the site is free. Members can be both hosts and guests. But before you pack your bags, make sure check the person's profile, establish an email relationship and use commonsense.
Dan Hoffer: "We do have a system in place to verify people's identities using credit addresses and passport information to help minimize the risk."
For Guillermo, his experience couchsurfing has been very rewarding. But the best part all is discovering unique places and faces he would never find in a guidebook.
Guillermo Gomez: "Being willing to give up some of their time to show some stranger a view of their life and of their city and of their culture."
Many couchsurfers also become hosts. And as a host, when you offer your couch, you control of who visits.
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