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(NECN/WWAY: Wilmington, N.C.) - Traveling abroad can get expensive. To help cut the cost, some travelers are turning to couch surfing -- a free place to stay on a stranger's couch. Travelers are using the Web site <A HREF="http://www.couchsurfing.org" target="_blank">CouchSurfing.org</A> to connect with others around the world as a host or couch surfer. "Well, I stayed with prostitutes," Ashley Peel said of her trip to Australia. "That was an experience in it's own because since it was legal, it wasn't a taboo as much as it is in America." Peel found her hosts on <A HREF="http://www.couchsurfing.org" target="_blank">CouchSurfing.org</A> and, aside from their jobs, she said her hosts were very welcoming and showed her the local flavor. "They took me to all the local bars, hole in the wall places that you wouldn't really know about in your guide book because it's not in there," Peel said. The Web site connects people across oceans. A billing address and credit card help verify people are who they say they are. The site has 4.2 million members. "My experience went well, so I needed to return the favor," peel said. So she let Australian exchange student Michael King stay on her couch before UNC-Wilmington dorms opened. "To have someone welcome you into their house even half way across the world, it opens your mind as kind of a different experience that changes you, you know," King said. Couch Surfing may be a great way to save a lot of money and meet new people. But remember, you are staying on a stranger's couch, so research is key. The sheriff's department offered these tips: <ul> <li>Do extensive research on the person <li>Don't give out personal information <li>Try to travel with a partner </ul> "It'd definitely be a lot easier for a guy to do this kind of thing," King said. "It's all about being smart and trusting your instincts," Peel said. "If you feel like it's not a good idea, then don't do it. And if you're really uncomfortable and you're a female, stay with females." Both Peel and King said they plan to use the Web site in the future. "You don't really get to see the country if you're staying in a hotel," King said. "You've got to stay with the people because they can show you the real thing. "I think it's a great experience, completely, 100-percent positive," Peel said. The Web site reports 99-percent of its members have had positive experiences couch surfing. The site offers the option of meeting for a cup of coffee a tour of the town, instead of opening one's home to a stranger. WWAY's Hailey Winslow reports.