One step up from couch surfing is a concept called Home Exchange. In existence since 1992, it provides travelers the opportunity to stay in members’ houses during their vacation.
Just as in the movie “The Holiday” (the website was featured in it) two travelers exchange their homes at the same time, saving them money on hotels. Advantages highlighted on the site are: living like a local, meeting neighbors, being able to cook for yourself, connections with exchange partners can evolve into life long friendships and many more.
While site membership is $9.95/ month for an annual unlimited membership or $15.95 for a three-month membership, the home exchange itself is free.
Safe and exciting travels.