Student uses website to stay for free

Kyle Eckstrom
Kyle Eckstrom

By Ashley Monfort

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Hawaii has kite surfing, body surfing and surf boards But have you ever heard of couch surfing? It doesn't exactly get you in the water, but it's a cheap way to travel.

Kyle Eckstrom is a student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who has travelled the world without spending a dime on a hotel.

"I'm a coach surfer," Eckstrom said.

The 25-year-old uses the site

People on this site offer travelers a place to stay for free. In return you are expected to do the same.

"It's like paying, paying it forward. So you're willing to open up your home to travelers or people moving here. It's somebody you've never met before and kind of embrace them as a friend.

And Eckstrom has made many friends. He's used the site to travel from the Eiffel tower in Paris... to Sweden... to Octoberfest in Germany.

And even though you may be taking comfort in a stranger's kindness, Eckstrom says the network is safe.

Couch's website says it uses a verification system to make sure people are who they say they are. Travelers are able to comment on their host's profile to vouch for their trip. And users can only vouch for members they have met face to face.

"You're taken in by the locals and you're shown what the locals do," Eckstrom said.

"You live their lifestyle and so you're able to experience what no tourist will ever be able to experience. You're one of they boys."