Hospitality exchange is an amazing way to travel without spending much money. You get to stay with locals for free. And when you're home receiving guests is a bit like traveling yourself.
There's a history to hospitality exchange networks. The gist is this: CouchSurfing is now by far the biggest but is generally considered to be in decline (partly because it's now a for profit corporation). BeWelcome is a much smaller but growing nicely.
Main hospitality exchanges
- BeWelcome (or BW) is a hospitality exchange service that is run by a non-profit organization. The website was founded in February 2007. As of December 2014, the organisation has more than 70,000 members in more than 150 countries all around the world who offer free accommodation and help during travels. Joining is free and the software behind the site is free and open-source software.
- Trustroots (or TR) is a hospitality exchange community for hitchhikers, nomads and other travellers. You can find hosts easily through a map. It is a non-profit, open source and free project made by the same team you brought you Hitchwiki, Trashwiki, Nomadwiki & more. The website was founded in December 2014.
- CouchSurfing (or CS) is the most popular and well known of these particular 'free accomodation' community sites. It connects surfers with hosts all over the world. Not as popular with some since it was sold to the private for-profit corporation Better World Through Travel in 2011.
- Warmshowers (or WS) is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink.
- globalfreeloaders is an online community, bringing people together to offer you free accommodation all over the world. Save money and make new friends whilst seeing the world from a local's perspective!
- Hospitality club aims to bring people together — hosts and guests, travellers and locals.
Other notable hospitality exchanges
People offering places to stay in rural areas (villages and farms).
How to be a good guest
Couchwiki's page on how to be a good guest is a great read to get started, after that you can also read about how to be a good host. It's actually highly recommendable to host yourself as well, as it gives you a good perspective of things.