Couch surfing around the world -

Couch surfing around the world

Cash-strapped, but need a vacation? There's a new way people are finding cheap digs on the road, over seas, and even in your home town.

It's called couch surfing.

This is where you crash on the couch or in the extra bedroom of a complete stranger for free. Sounds nuts, right? Is it even safe? We sat down with a couch surfer in Virginia who says it's the only way she travels.   

"I've gone back to school. I have student loans that I will die before I pay back," said D'anne Graham. 

Graham has been surfing the internet for a good place to stay for years. She's surfed her way through Canada and Ireland, even surfed at a home with an RV in the living room.  

For most, the idea of stepping through the door of a stranger for the night seems strange. But Graham says it's an adventure.

"Very much so! The adventure starts when you get on the site and you put in where you're going," she says.

Couch started in 2004. It connects surfers with couches around the world.  

"Most people do actually have an extra room with a bed. Some of the younger ones, it's probably a beer-stained couch," she adds. 

On the site, surfers create profiles and post pictures of the place you can stay. As a small comfort to travelers, the host even pays a fee to the website to have their home and personal information verified.  

Graham only stays with females or mixed groups.  

"There will be some women who say 'men only' and I'm like, 'Ok! Not staying there!' If they don't put up any pictures, stay away from those," Graham adds. 

She also tells friends and family exactly where she's crashing. 

"Some of them sound dodgy and you just don't go there. It's a lot of common sense," she says. 

She has a friend who offered up her couch and did have a bad experience.  

"Unfortunately somebody stole her very nice camera, and she reported it to [the website] and they pulled his profile," Graham recalls. 

She recommends reading everything in the profile, especially the references from other people who have stayed there. She says couch surfing is much more than just a cheap place to stay.  

"It really is about getting to know local people. They tell you the local spots. Many of them, if they have the time, will take you around," she says. 

Graham says obviously couch surfing is not for everyone -- you have to be open-minded, and above all, use your common sense and be careful.    

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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