The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE -

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.couchsurf­ 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”.

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