Feature

The enlightening -- and cheap -- art of couch surfing

Travel is getting a whole lot cheaper. Provided, of course, you don't mind sleeping with strangers.

There's a new way to "see the world with a free place to crash," said Jeff Miranda in The Boston Globe (free registration required). Couchsurfing.com is an online network of mostly 20-something travelers who offer to host visitors, and let them use their spare couches or beds—even their cars. There are other services with similar offerings—such as Hospitalityclub.org. But Couchsurfing.com says it places special emphasis on a mission that goes beyond saving its members money. Its goal is to encourage "human interaction."

The site has 285,000 registered users, and so far 98.8 percent have given positive ratings to their couch-surfing experiences. Members can sign up and offer their couches, and in exchange they have the right to search for available space, and hit the road after contacting their hosts. "It makes the world a smaller place," said Erin Benoit, who recently hosted three visitors in Massachusetts.

"CouchSurfing would seem to appeal to the postcollegiate backpacker set," said Matt Gross in The New York Times (free registration required), "but families dig it, too." The site's members don't have to hit the road themselves to get a taste of faraway places. Couples who find it hard to travel with kids can open their doors to fellow couch surfers, and get a vicarious thrill by listening to tales from "touring rock bands, teenage Canadian motorcyclists, and other frugal travelers."

Recommended

The Chinese Communist Party congress that could make Xi president for life, explained
Xi Jinping.
Briefing

The Chinese Communist Party congress that could make Xi president for life, explained

Has Liz Truss already failed?
Liz Truss.
Briefing

Has Liz Truss already failed?

Ukrainian forces break through Russian lines in southern Kherson
Ukrainian tanks in Kherson
'numerically superior tank units'

Ukrainian forces break through Russian lines in southern Kherson

North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan
A Japanese news network shows footage of Kim Jong Un.
escalations

North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan

Most Popular

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes
Political Cartoon.
Feature

5 toons about Trump's spiraling legal woes

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing
A view of the National Archives and Records Administration building in Washington, D.C.
More Trouble for Trump?

National Archives says some Trump administration records are still missing

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers
Ukrainian flag in Donetsk
do svidaniya

Ukraine takes full control of Lyman while Russian media points fingers