If a stranger sent you an email and asked to sleep on your couch, would you let him? Many people don’t even like the idea of sharing their seat on the bus with a stranger, let alone sharing their home. But that’s exactly what the idea of couchsurfing is all about: strangers meet online and then crash on each other’s couches when traveling. It’s popular around the world, particularly among teens. Over 2,000 new surfers sign up every day.
There are other ways that strangers help each other out while traveling. Hitchhiking — once socially acceptable, now illegal in many places — is being organized more and more online through websites like Craigslist and Digihitch.com. House-swapping is where you stay in someone else’s home while they live in yours.
In each of these cases people are trusting their personal possessions — and their personal safety — to complete strangers. Have you tried couchsurfing, hitchhiking or house-swapping? What has your experience been?
- Tim Hagge: Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Portland State University
- Alex Hansen: Couchsurfing Ambassador for Portland
- Heather English: Couchsurfer
- Al Peterson: Former hitchhiker
- Dee Poujade: Home-swapper