We saw Frugal Son off yesterday. He left some stuff behind: a few single socks (the mates are perhaps in Paris?), some dirty cups, and AN IDEA. Couch Surfing. This is what it sounds like: an on-line community where you can seek or offer overnight accommodations.
Frugal Son has done it a few times, most recently in Portland with a few friends. Since he is 22 I can't really say anthing about his activities! Miss Em (age 20, so still under my care) did it (without telling us) in Greece when her accommodations fell through (I have a panic attack as I think about this incident, about which I know nothing).
I figured this was something for which my age disqualified me. Why would I do this when I can afford a humble hotel? Why would I stay with some hipster types? Who would want me, anyway? Then I was peering over Frugal Son's shoulder as he tried to find accommodations in Paris. Opportunity one: a couple working for advanced degrees in Paris. Opportunity two: a family with two pre-teen kids, who take surfers in Paris and in their old house in the south of France. These people all sound so interesting!
The system is self-regulating, with ratings for hosts and guests much like the EBay community in its early days. We loved our visits in France last summer, where we stayed with friends-of-friends-of friends for a few nights.
Frugal Son made a pre-flight phone call to his grandma, age 82. The plan is that she will fly to France next spring and then she and Frugal Son will make a trip to her childhood city: Vienna. When he told her about his couch surfing line-up, she said, "Oh, I want to do that!"
Who knows? Would you do it?