This is my all time favorite website. It is probably one of the mot useful websites in the world. It saves you mountains of money, you make some amazing friendships, and gives you access to the entire world.
It's a network of people, all over the world, people in any city you would want to visit, or wouldn't want to for that matter. You request to stay at people's houses, instead of spending loads of money to stay at a hotel or hostel while on vacation. but that isn't all it is about. It is about meeting people, experiencing different cultures first hand, and it's about learning, and teaching.
It's completely legitimate and reliable. People who have couchsurfed, or hosted surfers have reviews posted on their site from people they met or stayed with, that tells what kind of host or guest they were. The reviews are either positive or negative, and are on their profile for the world to see. If you want to you can become a verified member, which means you give them your credit card information (with the option of donating money) and they verify that you are who you say, and your address is legitimate. The website also keeps a record of everything that goes on in it's database. every message that is sent is recorded, so that if there ever were a missing person, they would have information liek who they last stayed with, and where they were supposed to go next. You would be completely amazed at how widely used this website is, and how not scary it is.
I have personally hosted 6 or more guests in my house. They are always very generous and polite, and often they offer to make you a great dinner or take you out in exchange for a bed, and a tour of town. It is always fun and interesting. We have shared music, and movies, gone hiking, gone to parties, and done a lot of other awesome things. One guy, Bruce, a Scientist from Nebraska was here for a conference on the decline of Aspen Trees, and he brought us an entire fridge full of fresh produce and bread! i have never seen so much fruits and veggies in one fridge in my life.
In 3 weeks i am traveling to San Francisco with my best friend ellen, and guess how much $ i am spending on acoomodations? $0.00!! We are staying in a house of 3 room mates in the bay area, and have a promise of a sweet party. Another guy named John is meeting us in berkeley, showing us around town, and taking us to dinner. What an experience it will be to see San Francisco from a local's perspective!
I'm planning a giant snowboarding trip to Canada for my Christmas break, and have organized 3 places to stay already!
Check it out! It could be the best experience of your life!