Free, With Strings Attached

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Free, With Strings Attached

These online communities link travelers with people offering free lodging. They require registration for access. Keep personal safety in mind: The sites below offer tips and say they monitor both hosts and travelers, but you're pretty much on your own in someone else's home.

· CouchSurfing, http://www.couchsurfing.com. Pick and choose places to crash. When you can, host fellow couch surfers.

· GlobalFreeloaders.com, http://www.globalfreeloaders.com. A free accommodation network. You're expected to reciprocate as a host.

· Hospitality Club, http://www.hospitalityclub.org. A way to connect travelers with locals. You don't have to host anyone, but a roof or a guided tour is appreciated.

· Stay4Free, http://www.stay4free.com. For those who like to meet people from other cultures and countries.

And not free:

· HomeExchange.com, http://www.homeexchange.com. Connects vacation home-swappers, who pay $99.95 a year to be listed. Similar sites include Home for Exchange ( http://www.homeforexchange.com, from $59.50 a year) and Digsville Home Exchange Club ( http://www.digsville.com, $44.95 a year). -- S.K.S.


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