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A Free Ride - One Couch At A Time

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Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy

Traveling on the Kiwi dollar has never been fun, especially when hanging out with our English cousins (although the pound is not so sound at the moment). I've tried all kinds of ways to stretch my dollar, waitressed in Malaysia (try $10 a day but all the squid rings I could eat), hitched through out Asia, hostessed in Japan, anything that could me going longer. And now there is couch surfing, where was it when I was sleeping at the abandoned bus shelter in Greece? If couch crashing at a strangers place is not your thing try hospitalityclub, globalfreeloaders, place2stay or servas. Most of these sites have access to local people, tips, advice or people wanting to meet people. This is the revolution to travel, the key to adventure, a meet greet and be local experience.

So, what is Apparently it isn't just about the furniture - its about opening your home, your heart, and your life. Hosting or staying with somebody local opens your mind and begins a cultural exchange that crosses oceans, continents and cultures. There is a network of over one million members in over 231 countries, (including Antarctica), with more couches in Europe than in any other area. But is it safe? has implemented several precautionary measures for the benefit of its surfers, hosts, and community. Every user is linked to the other users he or she knows in the system through a network of references and friend links. In addition to the solid network with friend link-strength indicators and testimonials, there are vouching and verification systems. aims to bring people together - hosts and guests, travelers and locals. Thousands of Hospitality Club members around the world help each other when they are traveling - be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town. Joining is free, takes just a minute and everyone is welcome. Members can look at each other's profiles, send messages and post comments about their experience on the website. The club is supported by volunteers who believe in one idea: by bringing travelers in touch with people in the place they visit, and by giving "locals" a chance to meet people from other cultures we can increase intercultural understanding and strengthen the peace on our planet. and are online communities, bringing people together. Offering free accommodation all over the world, they save you money and allow you to make new friends (or foes) whilst seeing the world from a local's perspective. is divided into nine regions around the world, each with its own coordinator. Each Servas coordinator maintains a list of approved hosts and travelers for their region. Through Servas, people have opportunities to meet hosts, their families and friends, and join in their everyday life. Where convenient, hosts may offer two nights (or more) accommodation and invite travelers to share a meal. Names and addresses of hosts appear in annually produced lists which are made available only to approved travelers.

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