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Hotels, hostels, guesthouses, not only do they get to be pretty expensive but you never get the true feeling of a place, you never get to know the true local culture. Your interactions with people include only the other foreigners where you are staying, or the person that works in the restaurant, the hotel, the shop, or if you’re lucky the random person you met on the street.

There are many options to cut your accommodation cost, but hands down the best is couchsurfing!

What is couchsurfing?

Couchsurfing is basically a social network for travelers. Couchsurfing is like a “couch” exchange. So, when you travel someone let’s you have a place to stay, that can be either a couch, a bed, a room, a space on the floor, and when you aren’t traveling you offer a place for others that are traveling. Now you don’t have to have someone sleep at your house, some people just use the site to meet other travelers, or to meet locals for a coffee, meal, or drink while traveling.

Couchsurfing in Japan

Is it safe?

I’m sure almost everyone upon hearing about couchsurfing is thinking “what if this random stranger whose house I’m staying at is actually an axe murderer?”. Now the great thing about couchsurfing is it works on a reference system. So once you search for a potential host you can see how many references they have, and read the references. If someone has no references and no pictures and another guy has 50 positive references and pictures with his family, etc you may decide to only send a request to the guy with the references.

How much is it?

Free! Now couchsurfing shouldn’t be used as a free hostel as it is a lot more than that. As someone offers you a place to stay they often offer you their time. Most hosts offer to show you around the city, let you use their bicycle or motorcycle, treat you as a friend in their home. So, as a guest you should also show the same courtesy. Be polite, offer a small gift, or to cook dinner, and often you won’t just end up with a free place to stay but with a lifelong friend!

Why do it?

Experience staying with local families, finding the secret local places, getting taken to the awesome site not known by tourists, eating a home cooked meal, be fed and feed others, cook together, play with kids, go to the local karaoke pub to sing your hearts out after one too many drinks, be in really awkward situations, eat something that makes your stomach turn as you smile and say how delicious it was knowing you never would have had the chance to try it otherwise, and of course making beautiful new friendships with people you never would have met at the hostel!

Couchsurfing in Taiwan

Now, if you’re ready to try out couchsurfing and would like some tips in getting started please read “Couchsurfing, a “how to””. Try it out, you won’t regret it! :D

Have you ever tried couchsurfing? If so, how were your experiences? If not, would you be willing to try it out?

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