[NetBehaviour] 'Couchsurfing' Travel Takes Off on Web.

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Fri Nov 10 09:48:11 CET 2006

'Couchsurfing' Travel Takes Off on Web.

By Stan Choe

(AP) Jim Stone, center, is photographed with traveling companion Noemie 
Cliche, left, from Montreal, and...
Full Image

NEW YORK (AP) - Jim Stone, a 29-year-old from west Texas, has been 
traveling nonstop since March of 2004.

Sometimes in a pickup truck and other times on a motorcycle, he's 
trekked through much of the United States, Australia, New Zealand and 
Europe. But he's slept in a hotel just one night over that stretch of 
nearly 1,000.

That's because Stone is part of a growing network of people online 
who've gone a step beyond hotels, hostels and even apartment swapping in 
their travel planning: They sleep on each others' couches.

A number of Web sites have sprung up to help pair travelers searching 
for a place to crash and hosts with a spare couch. Sites like 
hospitalityclub.org, couchsurfing.com, globalfreeloaders.com and 
place2stay.net are often free, serving only as middlemen and offering 
tips on how to find successful matches.

The sites aren't moneymakers. They're largely the creations of 
20-somethings bitten with wanderlust and the hope to help bridge 
together people from different cultures. They often depend on volunteer 
administrators to help manage the Web operations.

Among the biggest is hospitalityclub.org, a site founded in 2000 by Veit 
Kuehne, who was then a 22-year-old business student. Kuehne wanted to 
use the Internet's reach to help foster the ideas of a group called 
Servas, an international peace organization that encourages cultural 
exchanges through travel.

The site grew to 1,300 members by 2002, 100,000 members by January 2006 
and 200,000 by September.


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