Traveling on a budget? Try Couchsurfing!

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For the budget-conscious and indebted, whether or not to travel can be a difficult decision. On the one hand, travel is not necessary and money spent on travel may be put to better use elsewhere. On the other hand, travel offers new experiences, new food, and a new perspective. As an indebted individual stricken with wanderlust, I think there is a great middle ground -- frugal travel.

One of my favorite ways to keep the travel budget under control is couchsurfing. For those individuals with friends all over the country (or even all over the world), couchsurfing may mean staying with people they know. For the rest of us, there is, an awesome way to stay with “new friends” for free. connects travelers and hosts all over the world. A traveler will request a stay for a day or more at a host’s home. The host can either approve or deny the request based on availability, desire to host, or compatibility of the traveler’s and the host’s profiles.

User profiles include interests, reviews from other hosts or travelers, smoking preferences, number of pets, gender preferences, and more. This allows users to determine compatibility between both traveler and host. For example, a traveler allergic to pets would not request to stay with an owner of three cats. And a smoke-free host would not want to host heavy smokers.

While some people may be concerned about the safety issues of couchsurfing with strangers, the website keeps things as safe as possible with safety suggestions and reviews from other members. Obviously, you should never stay in a home you are uncomfortable in for any reason. Don’t put your safety at risk just to spare feelings.

Couchsurfing introduces you to other travel lovers and gives you a place to stay for free. I have nothing but great things to say about my personal couchsurfing experiences, and I recommend it to anyone looking to save money on travel and/or meet new, interesting people.

Have you ever tried couchsurfing?

About Erin El Issa

Erin is the founder of Red Debted Stepchild, a blog about her journey to getting out of debt while still enjoying life in Portland, OR with her husband. She enjoys reading, eating, traveling, and crunching numbers on her numerous spreadsheets. Sometimes she remembers to tweet at @reddebted.

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