Sunday, 21 October 2012

Safe Ways To Couch Surf

Couch Surfing

Couch surfing can be an inexpensive way to travel; rather than having to line up a hotel room, you get to stay on the couch (or perhaps in a spare room or other accommodations) provided by someone local to the area. The concept is not particularly new, but the Internet's ability to help travelers ensure a safe experience is.

Sites such as offer connections to millions of prospective hosts. It can seem a little crazy to just connect with someone online and then show up on his or her doorstep, hundreds of miles away. Even if you can assume that most people willing to offer up a place to stay to strangers are well-intentioned, there are many possibilities that something will go wrong.'s user profiles put an emphasis on bringing in reviews or references; a host can review a visitor and vice-versa. also offers a verification service where, for a $25 fee, the site will take responsibility for checking that your address and identity are what you say they are. To reinforce online connections with real-world connections, integrates Facebook; in addition to avoiding filling out extra profiles, you can see if you have a link to a particular host through your existing connections. 

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Retirees trade homes for boats, travel, sofas

Picture for illustration purposes only. By living simply, bartering and eating from street vendors, one 64-year-old says he saved the equivalent of US$36,000 (S$44,000) yearly (Photo: Wikimedia)

(NEW YORK) At 68, Barbara Miller Elegbede is living proof that flower children need not grow up. A self-described hippie, she attended a San Francisco college at psychedelia's height and remembers friends constantly crashing on the couch of her apartment, just a block away from Janis Joplin's pad in the hip Castro neighbourhood.

Now retired from teaching and secretarial work, Elegbede, 68, has become a full-time "couchsurfer" herself, living in other people's guest quarters all over the world. (She has a temporary apartment in Tempe, Arizona.)

"I've lived in Africa. I know how to take a bath from a bucket ... I've lived in caves in Greece and hitchhiked all over the world. Next year, I'm off to India for two or three months." 

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