NEW ORLEANS -- What if you could travel the world and people would open their homes to you for free?
That’s what CouchSurfing.com promises. It’s a website that lists people offering up their couches to strangers to crash on as they travel.
Alexander Bigbie traveled all over the world. For most of those trips, he slept on couches for free.
“I’ve been around Iran, bits of America and parts of Europe,” he said. “There's a review system, just like Airbnb so if you look at the reviews you can see if somebody has a lot of positive feedback."
CouchSurfing.com currently has more than 6,000 active users in New Orleans.
“You know if you're staying there for a night or two, there's no kind of expectation that you have to pay anything,” Bigbie said. “They might say it'd be great to stay with you one day, but there's no guarantee."
Colleen Seeley, who work at WWL-TV, recently used the service on a trip to Park City, Utah.
“I was like, this is too good to be true,” she said. “There's no way I don't have to pay a dime to stay with somebody that I don't know and the first person that popped up was a 49-year-old single man."
To see if there were any strings attached, Seeley looked up the host and gave him a call. Things seemed fine until her mother found out.
“I could not believe it,” Peggy Seeley said. “It almost sounded irresponsible. At any age, I would feel very uncomfortable simply because you don't know this person you don't have a background on him."
In fact, there have been stories of couch surfers being assaulted. In 2015, a former Italian police officer used the site to find young women, drug them, then rape them. A man was convicted for a similar crime in New York in 2016.
And for some people opening their homes, the expectations could be different. Business Insider calls it “The Best Hook-Up Site Ever Devised,” but that’s not what people we spoke with said it was about.
"What did make me uneasy about spending the night at this place, when I had my eyes closed, I can't really prepare for what is about to happen,” she said “He had a packed house. He had a German, someone that was Indian and then two Chinese people."
Bigbie sees why this could be harder for women, but hasn’t had any bad experiences so far.
The site is free to use, but it costs about $25 to verify your identity, the site’s main revenue generator.