MILWAUKEE - 'Couch Surfing' helps people see the world, and Milwaukee, in a whole new way!
Ian Abston isn't a tour guide, and he doesn't run a hotel, but he does have a couch!
"It's very nice, leather. It hasn't been cleaned in awhile, you know, the standard couch," Ian explains.
Ian is part of an online network called Couch Surfing. He opens his home to people traveling in Milwaukee--for free!
"It's a great way to meet perfect strangers who like to travel from different places," Ian says.
This week he's hosting Ruth Miller and Sam Maurer from Berkeley, California. They're first-time couch surfers.
"I thought, you know, we're paying $100 for a hotel in Milwaukee you know. I just got on this site and started looking at it," Sam says.
There are couch surfers in more than 200 countries! All you have to do is log on
, create a profile, and start networking.
Courtney Wihrer is a Couch Surfing Ambassador for Milwaukee. In addition to hosting surfers like Ines Hofbauerova from Prague, Courtney uses Couch Surfing as a way to travel across the world!
"You get to see things that you wouldn't even know is on the map in some places," Courtney points out.
Courtney admits though...she was leery of the concept at first.
"I tend to sway on the naive side with trusting people, and I was still skeptical," she admits.
But with the site's verification system and other safety measures, she feels good about it now. She says, "You're never under an obligation to say yes. So if you get a couch request and you feel a little creepy, you can say no."
Everyone we talked to says couch surfing is more than just a free place to stay.
"I don't want to be a guest and host, but just two friends," Ines says.
But it is nice to have a roof over your head!
"I couldn't find a couch surfer yesterday actually, so I slept at a train station in Sandusky, so this is a welcome upgrade from that," Sam admits.
Still not totally comfortable with the concept? Many people join the network and just meet each other for coffee or a drink, as a way to get acquainted with an area and meet someone new.
Courtney says she's already gotten several requests for Harley Fest next weekend. So you can expect some bikers will be crashing on a couch near you!