When it comes to travel, it’s difficult to save much on airfare, food or entertainment, but lodging is something people can save hundreds on by staying in hostels or by couch surfing.
Staying in a hostel with 12 random people or sleeping on a stranger’s couch may seem daunting, but both provide opportunities for a unique travel experience.
“There’s no better way to get to know the world and different cultures than couch surfing,” said Israel Turley, a finance major from Orem.
Turley is a member of Couchsurfing.org, a site that connects couch surfers worldwide. When someone joins, they create an in-depth profile. The number of friends and referrals a person has determines their credibility as a couch surfer and host.
Couch surfing is completely free, but there are other ways to pay a host back. Since referrals affect a member’s future as a couch surfer or host, it’s important for people to leave one after their stay.
Another form of payment could be doing a service for the host or leaving a meaningful parting gift. And, of course, people should always leave the place in better condition than they found it.
The obvious benefit of a free place to stay may seem like reason enough to try couch surfing, but members get so much more out of the experience.
“Hotels or tour companies can give you a bed or show you the sites, but they can’t make your trip truly memorable,” the Couchsurfing media team said. “People do that.”
Hostels represent another great way to save on travel and meet new people.
“Hostel staying is an experience,” said Patrick Taylor, a philosophy major. “It adds a different dimension to travel.”
A quick internet search will pull up results for hostels costing less than $10. There are sites, such as hostels.com, that give ratings on safety, cleanliness and more and that make it easy to find the best hostel for the best price.
Most hostels offer private and communal rooms. Some even have private rooms for small groups traveling together. Except for all-girl rooms, bathrooms are communal as well.
“People begin inside some of your walls of privacy, but that makes it easier to see them as a friend,” Taylor said.
Having shared living quarters can open possibilities of sharing travel tips, recommending good food and creating memories with new friends.