I have been on Couch Surfing now for several years, but unfortunately, I still haven't had the pleasure of hosting anyone or staying on anyone else's couch. I've had a couple of people contact me but I'm a little hesitant and cautious about having strangers stay on my couch/air mattress. But I recently had an amazing experience meeting a CouchSurfer (CSer) from Utah and showing him the best of Delray Beach for a weekend. I am really excited about the idea of having a cheap way to travel, a good place to stay, and company while I'm doing so. If you don't know about couch surfing it's a great network of people across the world who offer up their couches/floors/extra beds for travelers in the area. Check out the website.
I have recently learned about two other similar networks. There is a website called Crashpadder which is very similar but they allow hosts to charge a small fee for the "crashing" area. And usually these appear to be rooms rather than just couches. Pretty cool. GoBackpacking claims that by charging a fee and the need to exchange credit card information may make this experience feel a little safer because there are verified real names and personal information exchanged. I'm not so sure about that, but it's an interesting concept. It seems pretty new, so they are still working on building the network. So far there are rooms in 763 cities.
And for another step up there is a website I just learned about called Airbnb. I'm really really excited about this network. It's basically a way for people to rent out their rooms or extra spaces.
This reminds me of my travels through Italy in 2004 when my boyfriend (at the time) and I went to some amazing locations without any hotel reservations. We used our sparse grasp of the Italian language to find rooms that locals were renting out. Many of the adorable homes in Italy had tiny signs on their doors and windows that said "camera" which translates as "room" and means that they have a room available. We had the best experience in some of these places and met amazing people in the process. It's always more fun to do things like that than stay at a Holiday Inn...which look the same no matter what country you're in. So back to Airbnb. Hosts can post pictures and information about their rooms for rent on the site and you can search the rooms by location and price. The places range from treehouse type cottages to castles! Amazing! And the prices vary dramatically too. Check out this slideshow of their top 20. I'm going to try to stay at the Mushroom Dome Cabin and the Fern Forest Treehouse someday. So cute!!
Have you or would you use any of these networks? I can't wait to try some of these out while roadtripping this summer!!