Project Details

A lady laying on a sofa smiling at the camera


Hosts offer beds to people looking for somewhere to stay.

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @Couchsurfing

  • Community Engagement
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Geolocation
  • Mobile
  • Social Software

Offering a stranger a place to sleep is one of the oldest forms of generosity. By using the web to take that idea global, Couchsurfing has provided far more than a low-cost way for people on a shoestring budget to travel the world.

Couchsurfing hosts offer their spare rooms, sofas and beds to people looking for somewhere to stay. For the hosts it is a way to be generous by putting their spare rooms to good use, and an opportunity to meet new people. For visitors it is a way to connect with local people, usually while seeing a foreign city. Couchsurfing is a simple, low-cost way to travel and form friendships at the same time. Veteran couchsurfer Alexandra Liss told the community’s story through the documentary feature film One Couch at a Time, tracing her journey through 21 countries across six continents. And it is not just for people visiting cities: Moustafa Cheaiteli couchsurfed his way across the Sahara.

Within a decade of its launch, Counchsurfing had more than 10 million users and it had inspired more commercial imitators, such as Airbnb.

Couchsurfing, however, is more than just a low-cost way to get a bed for a night. It is a way for people to be generous and kind, opening up their houses and offering a bed to a stranger. An act of generosity builds relationships between people that mere commercial transactions do not. Couchsurfers now meet up all over the world, not just to socialise but to learn languages together. By making it easier for people with a limited budget to travel, Couchsurfing feeds curiosity. By staying with locals, travellers find out more about a place than using an impersonal hotel. The locals meanwhile meet a flow of visitors from other places. Couchsurfing is not just a way to get a place to stay for free; it’s also a way to make friends and to learn, to give and share.

Image 'London flat' courtesy of Jill

Last updated: 09th of May, 2014

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