CouchSurfing is a super cool social network which takes social interaction off the computer monitor and returns it firmly back into the realm of real life. The non-profit works by helping travellers hook up with locals to share accommodation – or sometimes just a friendly chat and drink – on their journey, but it seems to go much further than just finding a cheap place to crash.
According to the site they’ve helped facilitate 1.25 million stays, 1.5 million new friends have been made (90,000 of those ‘close’ friends) and overall an impressive 99.6% of users have reported a positive experience. Beat that Facebook! This is all the more remarkable when you consider it’s based around one party opening up their home to a stranger, and a traveller trusting their rest-stop to a remote member of an online community.
The heart of the service lies in a system of references and verified profiles, both of which are designed to minimise the risks of coming up against a nutcase on your travels. People can only vouch for those they have met, and they can give references to indicate honesty and people appeal.
Overall this is such an excellent idea it makes you wonder why it’s not as well known as Facebook. Apart from the obvious benefits of cost efficient travel for those on a budget – and we’ll leave aside the ecological issues of the global travel industry for now, shall we? – it has to be a force for good when people from 231 countries and over 67,000 cities can come together both online and face to face to share experiences and cultural differences in such a fabulous way. Great stuff.
CouchSurfing is an international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world. Since 2004, members have been using our system to come together for cultural exchange, friendship, and learning experiences. Today, over a million people who might otherwise never meet are able to share hospitality and cultural understanding.