EvEr found yourself crashing at a friend’s place for the night, or have been the one offering that couch?
Well, there’s a website called CouchSurfing (www.couchsurfing.org) that gives travellers a chance to make friends who’ll lend you a couch when you’re in the area.
Making arrangements through CouchSurfing isn’t that different from booking a hotel. You just look-up the city you’re traveling to on the website, and it will give you a list of surfers in the city who you can stay with for free.
Selangor-based surfer Jazvina Lahre, 28, said: “CouchSurfing is good for younger members. You get a local’s input on the best rates and ways to travel within a budget, as many tend to travel after finishing college, and before they start work.”
Those new to the concept would obviously be concerned about safety, but there are several security measures to protect members on both sides of the exchange. “Always thoroughly read the profile of members that request your couch before letting them stay in your home and vice versa for travelers,” warned Jazvina. For added security, members can be verified by making a small dona- tion on the website using credit card. A postcard will be mailed to the credit card’s billing address, with a code that will be used to verify that they are who they say they are, and that their “couch” is where they say it is.
There is also a “vouching system”. Members who have been vouched for, starting with the founders of the site, can vouch for other members whom they’ve met through CouchSurfing.
The CouchSurfing community also organises several meetups every week, like the recent Orientation Day held in Bangsar, which was attended by nearly 30 local and foreign couchsurfers. New members got to learn about good “surfing etiquette” during the casual gathering.
So, whether you’re looking for travel accommodations abroad or travel buddies locally, odds are CouchSurfing has something for you. It is perhaps a slower-paced way to make friends compared to more prominent social networks, but the CouchSurfers prefer it that way as they value the strength of each connection to sheer numbers. They’re in no rush after all, keeping to their credo, “creating a better world, one couch at a time”.