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Couch surfing saves travelers money

READ MORE: Couch surfing saves travelers money
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Backpacking around Europe can get expensive. To help cut the cost, many travelers are turning to couch surfing: A free place to stay on a stranger's couch. Travelers are using a website called couchsurfing.org to connect with people around the world as a host or couch surfer.

"I stayed with prostitutes," couch surfer Ashley Peel said about the surprise she got during a trip to Australia. "That was an experience in its own because since it was legal, it wasn't a taboo as much as it is in America."

Aside from their day job, Peels says her hosts were very welcoming and showed her the local flavor.

"They took me to all the local bars," she said. "Hole-in-the-wall places that you wouldn't really know about in your guide book because it's not in there."

The website connects people across oceans with a free place to crash. A billing address and credit card help verify people are who they say they are. The site has 4.2 million members. Two-hundred of them live in the greater Wilmington area.

"My experience went well," Peel said, "so I needed to return the favor."

So Peel let Australian exchange student Michael King stay on her couch before the UNCW dorms opened.

"To have someone welcome you into their house even half way across the world, it opens your mind as kind of a different experience that changes you," King said.

Couch surfing is a great way to save a lot of money and meet new people. But remember, you are staying on a stranger's couch so do your research beforehand. The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office offers these tips:

-Do extensive research on the person.
-Don't give out personal information.
-Try to travel with a partner.

"It'd definitely be a lot easier for a guy to do this kind of thing," King said.

"It's all about being smart and trusting your instincts" Peel said. "If you feel like it's not a good idea, then don't do it. And if you're really uncomfortable and you're a female, stay with females."

Both Peel and King say they plan to use couchsurfing.org for future travels.

"You don't really get to see the country if you're staying in a hotel," King said. "You've got to stay with the people, because they can show you the real thing."

Couchsurfing.org reports 99 percent of their members have had positive experiences couch surfing. If you're wary about opening your home to a stranger, the site offers the option of meeting for a cup of coffee or a tour of the town.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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LOL

Bunking with hookers and going to "Hole-in-the-wall" places...that makes me smile :) AND FOR FREE!!!!

good grief

It is my dream vacation to travel to Australia and have prostitutes take me to Hole-in-the-wall places. What on earth are these travelers thinking?

It can be dangerous traveling overseas never mind sleeping at strangers homes. I agree with the other poster, if you cant afford safe accommodations then you should stay home.

Travel

I tell ya what, just watch a movie like "Hostel" and "Hostel 2" and that will cure you of wanting to bum around Europe. Yes, of course I know they are just movies but bad stuff can and does happen.

'Bad stuff' can happen

'Bad stuff' can happen crossing the road... ;-) Nothing but GOOD stuff so far and more to come I hope.

We CS'ed across Europe!

We love Couch Surfing!! It's a wonderful organization. We have hosted many people from Canada, Italy, Germany as well as numerous Americans.

Then last May we went couchsurfing around Europe. We stayed with a family in Belgium, Germany and a couple in Scotland.

When looking for people to stay with...pay close attention to "groups" they belong to and you will quickly be able to see if it will be a good fit for you or not. =)

Also, don't be afraid to tell people no that request to stay with you.

couch surfing

If your budget is causing you to resort to sleeping on a strangers couch while on traveling, then you should just stay at home.

Why would someone want to sleep on a strangers counch?

That is just asking for trouble. There are stories out there about guys that kill their whole family...so lets stay with a stranger...you got to be kidding me. I agree, if you cant afford to travel...DONT. People today have totally lost their minds and doing things that you would have never thought in a million years...murdering their family to avoid the pain of not having a place to lay their head at night or money to feed their children...I can really see a horror story coming from couch surfing...when will people learn.

Surfing

So whats the problem if it isn't even safe on your own couch? Nothing is completly safe so live some.

CS is about meeting locals

CS is about meeting locals and getting to know an area through them, saving a bit of cash along the way is just a bonus and should not be the primary reason it gets used or hits the press :-/

I have been with the site for nearly 3 years, volunteering 1000s of hours to keep it running and loving every minute of it.

Query, 4.2million? I think need to proof read your article again ;-)

Please if the media has to push the concept and the site then go with these reasons and not just $$$

Thanks

Great experience...

The majority of people are good and as everyone said people you know can turn out to be murderers so there is risk everywhere. Couchsurfing offers a lot of precautions, people get verified and you can give references once you have met or stayed with them. You can tell a lot from a person't profile and you can chat to them before you stay with them. I never stay with someone that makes me feel uncomfortable or that I am not 100% sure about. It is an amazing experience. It doesn't matter that it is free, I could afford to stay in a hotel, but I choose not to. I get to meet new friends everywhere I go that want to share their home with me! It offers travellers the opportunity to give back to the travelling community when they are at home. I have stayed with people in Korea and London and hosted or met for coffee with dozens of people and have never had a bad or even uncomfortable experience.