Crash on a couch
Looking for a way to meet folks abroad? One option for adventurous types: couch surfing. It is, as the Christian Science Monitor put it recently, “the universe of social networking itself, simply pushed into the real world.”
In a nutshell, travellers hit the CouchSurfing website and make connections with people willing to offer people a free place to stay for a night or two, along with a glimpse into local culture. It’s not a technique for the faint of heart, as there’s no way to guarantee that your host–or your guest–isn’t someone you’d rather not share a roof with (the CSM article includes several horror stories). But the CouchSurfing Project claims that complaints are few, perhaps because many (though certainly not all) members are 20-somethings with an easygoing outlook on life.
For safety tips for travellers using services like CouchSurfing, see my article on hospitality clubs on my travelling-like-a-local website, LaVidaLocal.com.