“It’s like a blind date where the person brings his toothbrush.”

Cortney Fielding, a 30-year-old freelance writer, describing couch surfing to New Yorker writer Patricia Marx. Marx’s account of the practice (“temporarily lodging with a stranger—free of charge, unless you count being incessantly sociable as payment”) notes that CouchSurfing.org, the most popular couch surfing website, boasts nearly 4 million users, including people in North Korea and Antarctica.

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