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I’m planning a genealogy trip to upper South Carolina this summer and when I go, I have to admit that I will Couchsurf if I possibly can.

Screenshot from Couchsurfing.org

Screenshot from Couchsurfing.org

When you first tell people about Couchsurfing they generally have one of two reactions:

1.) They’re intrigued
2.) They think it’s insane and dangerous (I’m looking at you, Will & Carmen!)

All Couchsurfing is logging in to the site, browsing people with available couches or rooms in the place where you plan to go, and sending them a secure message through the system to ask if the couch is available for the night(s) you want to say. And not just anybody can host. I’m a host and I had to pay $25 to verify my address. They consider that a form of good-faith deposit to ensure that you’re serious and will answer the call when people contact you. You also need to collect references from other Couchsurfers in order to be considered trustworthy.

You meet interesting people, you stay in local homes, and everybody’s somewhat vetted. What’s not to love? And my favorite part about Couchsurfing? It’s free. Charging for a couch violates the terms of service of the site.

Also, for the longest time, there was no reported incident of crime related to the Couchsurfing site. In fact, most Google searches for Couchsurfing + danger or + crime usually end up with a bunch of stories about how everybody is doing it but it could be dangerous. Yesterday, though, I did finally find one incidence of Couchsurfing associated with a pretty horrific crime. So there’s that. Of course, one reported crime (that has gone public, at least) in the site’s history isn’t a very bad track record. I would, of course, be safe – stay with a woman or family, only stay with people who have references, tell people exactly where I’m going, talk to the person beforehand and trust my instincts.

I’ve traveled extensively and done some pretty crazy things and I can tell you that most of the people in this world are good people.

Y’all know from previous posts that I’m extremely cheap. The less money I spend on lodging, the more I have to spend on copies, museum admissions, donations to history organizations while I’m there, etc.

So, I want to know. What do you think? If you were planning on a trip to poke around courthouses and historical societies for a few days, would you Couchsurf?

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