Balkan travellers join their international peers in seeing the world through an online networking phenomenon.
By Bedrana Kaletovic and Gabriel Petrescu for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo and Bucharest -- 24/01/13
Couchsurfing has helped millions of youths to travel on a budget. [AFP]
Connecting travellers from 230 countries around the world, Couchsurfing is a web-based international NGO that was launched in 2004. Couchsurfing embraces the idea of travellers moving from one house to another, sleeping on the floor or couch, generally staying a few days before moving on.
Members of the web site register as hosts, guests or both, and the terms of the guest's stay are usually worked out in advance.
Boris Balta, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been part of the couchsurfing family since 2006, and was the first in the country to join the network. He has hosted more than 40 couchsurfers from all over the world.
"Most consider the Balkans exotic and come to learn more about it. They arrive from countries which have a great system, to learn more about the countries that went through war, and are generally familiar with the Balkans. Younger people who initially want to meet new people come, and some after move to live in these areas. They are familiar with our culture; understand our way of thinking, humour and customs."
Today, more than 4 million people belong to the network, many of whom would not have had the chance to travel without it.