|by Sean O'Neill||Helpful Websites, Hotels, Innovations||2|
You've probably heard of couchsurfing.com, a network of travelers looking to crash for free on strangers' sofas. Now we learn that an entrepreneur has taken the idea a step further and created Airbedandbreakfast.com, a site that enables anyone with an airbed (or couch or bed) to rent it out for the night.
What makes AirBed & Breakfast.com different from couchsurfing.com (and craigslist.org, too) is that it allows you to make reservations online and pay for your stay with a credit card (or via PayPal). The site charges guests a 5 to 12 percent service fee (above the nightly rate, depending on the type of lodging). If you're hosting a guest, you receive the full rate you advertise.
Skeptical of the trend? Don't be. Time reported this spring that Couch Surfing has nearly 470,000 users—up 56 percent since last year.
On the plus side, AirBed & Breakfast makes it much more convenient for folks to try a cheaper—and far more culturally authentic—alternative to a hotel.
On the downside, this website manages to lower the standard for acceptable cheap lodging to something even lower than a couch: the plastic inflatable airbed. Plus, it introduces an annoying new acronym into the language: "AB&B.;"
Perhaps none of the above websites are as truly bargain basement as the long-standing one that makes guests work for their beds: helpx.net Trade five hours of manual labor for a place to crash.
Have you tried any of these services? Would you?