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Couch Surfing

An original way to travel that involves being taken around a city by someone who actually lives there, staying in their house for free and discovering different cultures. Welcome to couch surfing!


By:  Cecilia Bogaard
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Social networking site for travellers
Birth: 1999
Founded by: Casey Fenton
Stands out for: Changing the way we travel
Did you know? over 600,000 people have couchsurfed since they launched the site

Couch Surfing is an initiative that looks set to transform the concept of travel as we know it. Expensive hotels and tour guides are replaced by hospitality, adventure and an in-depth knowledge of the cities involved. “Couch surfing aims to connect people and places internationally, facilitate educational exchange, promote tolerance and encourage cultural understanding,” explains Casey Fenton, founder of the initiative.

Sometimes its hard to travel on a small budget. Some people grab a backpack and take off with no set destination or itinerary. However, there comes a time when one needs to be realistic and face the fact that all travellers have to eat and sleep. This happened to Fenton when he bought a cheap ticket to Iceland. With no money for staying in a hotel, he sent an e-mail out to 1,500 Icelandic students asking if any of them had a sofa he could sleep on. To his surprise he received hundreds of positive replies. His journey became a continual adventure. He began to travel, staying for free with locals in the different countries he visited and discovering a side most tourists normally don´t get to see. The concept of couch surfing was born.

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“Couch Surfing isn’t competing with conventional tourism. You cannot compare the two,” explains Birgit, a volunteer working for the project’s Communications Team. “The initiative enables people of different ages, social classes and nationalities to get to know one another. This encourages a deep intercultural awareness.”

Couch Surfing works in the same way as a social network. Once you have registered, you can do a quick search and begin to find thousands of people from far and wide who are prepared to let you stay in their homes. These people are known as hosts. Hosts are vouched for by other hosts so you can always be sure that those who are taking you in are reliable and trustworthy. There are three types of hosts: verified, vouched and ambassadors. During the verification process, Couch Surfing checks that their personal details are correct and other members vouch for the host after spending time with them. An ambassador is someone who has become part of the Couch Surfing team and works on expanding the initiative. When you search you can also specify if you want to spend several days with a host in their home, if you’d like a quick kip on their sofa or if you’re just interested in meeting up for a drink.

Every host has their own introductory profile with information about themselves, their location, interests and hobbies and most importantly the opinions of their previous guests. All you have to do is get in touch and confirm when you are arriving. This is all completely free. The only form of payment is helping out around the house or taking your host out on the town. Since you get taken around the city by someone who actually lives there, it’s the perfect way to avoid tourist traps and discover a side to the city you won’t find in most guidebooks. “The trip can be as exciting as you want it to be,” adds Birgit.

Couch Surfing is a website that relies on contributions from users and volunteers to keep it alive. After a server crash in 2006 when all the information was lost, it was the users who fought to restore the website. According to Fenton, “the database broke down but the communication was very much alive”.

The statistics are impressive. By 2008 there were over 600,000 surfers who had had over one million positive experiences thanks to Couch Surfing. Over 231 countries have been visited via the website. In Spain, Andalusia is one of the most popular destinations for surfers. Joining the Couch Surfing network is like joining an international hospitality network which promotes the age old custom of opening your doors to passing travellers.

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13 comments

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El 5 August 2008 a las 7:10 PM, Placera dijo...

¡No sabía que existia está página! Ya estoy con ganas de viajar al estilo couch surfing….


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El 8 October 2008 a las 12:21 AM, Fercho dijo...

Me parece espectacular ésta moda del couchsurfing, y me gustaria agregarme a un grupo de personas que hablen español para presentarles mis servicios. saludos para quien me pueda dar una completa información


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El 29 January 2009 a las 6:02 PM, jose ignacio dijo...

estoy buscando sofa en fuengirola o benalmadena primera quincena de febrero
compartiendo los gastos


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El 29 January 2009 a las 6:13 PM, Lakshmi I. Aguirre dijo...

Hola José Ignacio: Lo mejor es que entres en couchsurfing.com y que utilices su buscador de sofás. Podrás ver las características personales de los que ceden sus sofás y ver qué persona es la que más te conviene.


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El 8 February 2009 a las 6:39 PM, Clara dijo...

Quiero formar parte !
Adoro las culturas, mostrar la mia!!
Como tengo que hacer?
Gracias
Clara


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El 10 February 2009 a las 11:15 PM, AURORA dijo...

hoy descubri esta pagina y me alegro’ muchisimo . PUEDO RELACIONARME TANTO EN ITALIANO COMO EN ESPAÑOL .. rECIBO CON GUSTO TODAS LAS INFORMACION RELACIONADA A ESTE METODO DE CONOCERSE Y VIAJAR .POR FAVOR CONETESE CONMIGO GRACIAS


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El 4 June 2009 a las 10:53 PM, yanina dijo...

quiero saber si existe fenton gregory fotografo y surfista


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El 7 September 2009 a las 6:47 PM, Diego Perez dijo...

muy bueno para ser cierto,no dejo de pensar que existen valores en la vida todavia.,de verdad que si esto es cierto seria una bendicion. a veces tines el pasaje y algo de dinero para pasartela bien unos cuantos dias,pero los costos de alojamientos sn e verdad una barrera inalcanzable, por ejemplo mi esposa y yo 64 anos,45 de casado, sonamos con ir a espana pero cando pasamos balance cuanto costaria hace un pequeno recorrido por las bellas ciudades espanolas,tenemos que despertar,pero tambien hay personas que abusan d las hospitalidad y buena voluntad de los demas. que dios los bendiga.


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El 4 February 2010 a las 12:53 PM, gonzalo dijo...

¿ como se ponen en contacto las personas que brindan su hospitalidad ?


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El 4 February 2010 a las 1:14 PM, Lakshmi I. Aguirre dijo...

Hola Gonzalo.

Todo el proceso se realiza en la página oficial de Couch Surfing:

http://www.couchsurfing.org/home.html

Allí se ponen en contacto tanto los que ofrecen sus sofás como los que buscan uno.


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El 17 February 2010 a las 7:19 PM, Ester dijo...

Conocí el poryecto CouchSurfing a través d eunos amigos y este verano viajé por los balcanes con este sistema. Me gustó tanto esta nueva forma de conocer gente y lugares que también escribí un artículo para darlo a conocer aún más. Si os interesa leerlo, seguid este link: http://viajesbaratos.suite101.net/article.cfm/la-aventura-de-couchsurfing

En la misma web hay otros dos artículos sobre CouchSurfing. ¡Buen viaje!


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El 26 May 2010 a las 1:16 AM, OLGA dijo...

es genial la idea de viajar a todo el mundo, me gustaria saber como incribirme a esta pagina del coching… les agradeceria mucho si pudieran enviarme informacion. cuanas veces soñe con viajara a francia. la torre IFFEL


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El 6 January 2013 a las 12:18 PM, Intercambios lingüísticos en Sevilla | Conociendo mundo dijo...

[...] como “The English Group of Seville”, que se reúnen los sábados por la noche, el grupo de Couchsurfing, que se reúnen los miércoles y viernes por la noche, y los grupos de Intercambio de Francés y [...]



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