(Couch) Surfin’ Safari

mapwithdots.jpgI’ve always been kind of a Coot Before My Time when it came to traveling, but I stand in deep admiration of my more intrepid friends, one of whom recently hepped her tribe to a cool collective called CouchSurfing.com.

You can sign up as a surfer, a host (at various levels of couch-hosting enthusiasm) or just poke around and check it out. The idea is, beyond getting a place to crash for free, you get a host who shows you around, introduces you to the town like a local and sometimes, it appears, becomes a friend.

Basically, as one person on the site put it, it’s like Friendster with couches (which to me means Actually Useful + No Server Hangups). My pal, Anna, raved about itóshe’s surfed a few times in her cross-country travels and hosted once here in Venice.

L.A. is a popular destination, but not as popular as you might think: the few times I’ve checked the dynamic stats, it’s consistently ranked 8th or 9th, way after sexy Metroblogging sister cities like London, Montreal and Melbourne.