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Couchsurfing - Cross Cultural Lodging Concept

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Couchsurfing.com - Couchsurfing Photo - Couch Surfing CouchSurfers Unite in Memphis

Couchsurfers, Memphis

Photo courtesy Jim Stone

Couchsurfing update:

No sooner did we email our weekly newsletter in which we reported that CouchSurfing had gone cushions up ("CouchSurfing.com kaput for now") than a welcome email arrived announcing the massive project's relaunch, and the new Couchsurfing site has long since now been alive and well. Read on to understand Couchsurfing.

What It Is:

Couchsurfing is an interesting outfit seeking to unite world travelers with a couch on which to flop and with siblings under the skin espousing similar messages of unity; in fact, one might say the company is also a philosophy. Founded in 2003, Couchsurfing went global in 2004, for-profit in 2011 and, today, rules its segment of the budget travel info world with a velvet brocade hand. It's the hippest B and B for which you've never looked.

How It Works:

The beating hearts of Couchsurfing.com are member profiles: Couchsurfers post bios, philosophies and locations, and like-minded travelers search for available living room lodging accordingly. Members can be verified and / or vouched for -- in this modern version of a coconut telegraph, you'll know with whom you're crashing, and the site offers some sensible surfing safety tips for sofa selection. Most things connected with Couchsurfing.com are, of course, free, though donations to help defray corporate expenses are accepted.

Why You Should Do It:

Staying with a local means getting tips on the best tamales, learning where to catch the Chinatown bus and the locale of that secret beach. You'll see a slice of real life in another place, courtesy of your hosts, and make forever friends to boot. You can repay the hospitality in your hometown, meeting worldly folk with adventurous agendas and finding that your own back yard is a place of wonder to a traveler.

Depend on the kindness of strangers.

Couchsurfing Destinations:

Couchsurfing.com's boundaries are defined only by gravity. As of this writing, 171 countries and 8828 cities are represented by 16,500 successful surfings by 40,500 travelers.

Try it:

Cruise to Couchsurfing.com and get your sea legs by signing on and reading a few profiles. Get brave by hosting a Couchsurfer. Get a changed life through travel with a human connection.

Founder Casey Fenton Speaks:

"I've always wanted a way to get right to the heart of our culture, to seek out knowledge and to locate the most interesting people and situations this world has to offer. As a means of doing this, I started this project over four years ago. By following my dreams, I hope to enable you to do the same. Won't you join me?"

Founder Sebastien Le Tuan Speaks:

"Couchsurfing is bringing us together in a common vision where travel is redefined to mean a lot more than a vacation, or sightseeing. It's bridging cultures, creating new friendships, and encouraging the practice of giving and sharing... I believe Couchsurfing.com can truly help spread good in the world. All it takes is a host, a guest, and of course, a couch. And it will happen, one couch at a time... "

Couchsurfers' Testimonials:

"Several years ago I went hitch hiking, not so much to get any place, but rather to spread some cheer and to reaffirm a notion about humanity, that there are those willing to lend a helping hand. This is Couchsurfing.com in a digital nutshell. Here you'll find people not only willing to help each other, but zealous to do so, to learn more about culture, the world, and their own life. What sort of 'gap' has it bridged? Simply, it turns travel into visiting friends. And that is quite a remarkable thing."

"To say that something has 'changed your life' is such a cliche. Every decision we make, every action we take -- be it choosing to catch the bus or cycle to work, to shop at the supermarket or at the corner shop, changes your life. There are some events, however, that transform your world in more shades than you can fathom. That moment for me happened five months ago when I clicked the 'Join' button on Couchsurfing.com.

"Arohanui e hoa CS!"

"CouchSurfing is about meeting some of the most amazing, kind and generous people you would never have met, from all corners of the world. You experience a part of their life -- you see the world from their eyes. It's just an undescribable feeling. It leaves you inspired to spread that love and be a better person."

Couchsurfers' Philosophies:

"There is nothing most valuable then true friendship!"

"There is a Chinese proverb... it is better to travel 1000 miles than read 1000 books."

"Be more (while you are working, studying, etc., etc., whatever you are doing) for be able to serve better and to do a better world with peace and health."

All quotations above from Couchsurfing.com.

Happy trails, travelers.

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

Readers Respond: Which One: Couchsurfing, Hospitality Club, or Global Freeloaders?

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