Couch Surfing, A Way To Travel For Less

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It's called couch surfing, millions of people across the world do it. There's even some groups locally that couch surf.

So what is couch surfing? It's a travel option for people not wanting to spend money on hotels. The traveler instead stays on someone's couch for free. That's right to break that down for you, let's say you want to take a week trip to Rome, Italy...just the the cost of a three star hotel alone could be more than $300 dollars. Gene Floyd, a Tallahassee Couch Surfer says, "I would love to stay with a European family and eat their food and see what their houses are like and listen to them gripe about their government for a change."
Gene Floyd is just one of the many couch surfers who lives in Tallahassee.

"The people I've met, the things I've learned, all of the exposures to different ideas, different cultures, different lifestyles, it's been utterly life changing," Floyd says.

Floyd has stayed with about 50-60 people and in turn has had that many couch surfers come stay with him on his couch.
He says all different kinds of people travel this way. He even met a couch surfer that was 80-years-old.
"Common prejudices and stereotypes we have of other people in other areas of the country and even from other countries, just don't hold up once you meet them face-to-face and find out they're pretty much the same as you are," Floyd says.
Floyd's not the only couch surfer in town, I met up with other people who do it and even a couple from France that is couch surfing their way across the world.
Vanessa Hillman is a couch surfer too.
"The amount of trust that you're putting yourself out there, the amount of vulneranlity, everybody else is doing it to, so it's really like it teaches you, it makes you have a new respect for people," says Hillman.

Joe Kennedy, a couch surfer, says,"Sure it's a way to save money but I don't think that's the main purpose even if I paid for it, I would prefer to stay with somebody in another country."

French couch surfers, Jeremie and Eleonore Bricout say, "It's not an adventure to say oh I've been there, but going there or going to some people's house."

So here's how it works: you log on to their website, join for free, then they validate that you are who you say you are. You get a profile and you can search for couches to crash on or open up your home to someone coming to your area. Once you visit others or have someone stay with you, like Ebay, you both fill out a survey and give feedback on your experience. That's how a lot of surfers know who's a good host and who might not be.

The thought of sleeping on a stranger's couch might have you asking are there are dangers involved?

David Northway, from the Tallahassee Police Department says,"I did some research on this and there are stories of having people come stay at there house and they steal their belongings from them. That would be my first concern."

Northway says it's important to do a background check on the person you plan to stay with or the person coming to your house...and try to build some type of relationship with them first.

"I'm inviting people that I do not know into my own home, and that makes me nervous, for just the simple fact that I don't know about my own safety because I don't know who I'm dealing with," added Northway.

But couch surfers insist it's not dangerous.

If you like the idea of traveling the world and not having to pay for a hotel but don't necessarily want to sleep on a couch, don't let the name fool you, some members set up guest bedrooms for travelers.

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