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Giovanna A. Garlati
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IgoUgo defines the difference between a welcome guest and a "travel mooch;" offers tips for politely sponging off family and friends on your next vacation

NEW YORK, NY, May 13, 2008

With travel costs a big concern this summer, many travelers will opt to skip the hotel as a sure-fire way to save money when visiting family or friends. But some will take cost savings to the extreme and let who they know dictate where they go – so they can vacation for free.

In a poll released this week by, one of the most popular travel communities in the world, 57 percent of respondents said they would consider staying with family or friends on vacation, and 55 percent said in the past, they have vacationed somewhere solely because they had family or friends who could provide free accommodations.

But the poll also revealed that not all vacationing houseguests are the same. While the majority of houseguests (75 percent) say they enjoy spending time with their hosts, 25 percent appear to be motivated primarily by convenience and savings – they don’t include the enjoyment of their hosts’ company in a list of top reasons for staying with them at all.

The editors of IgoUgo have coined the term "travel mooch" to describe those 25 percent of dreaded houseguests who tend to push the limits of couch-surfing etiquette. If you’ve ever hosted vacationing friends, you’ve probably known one; if you’ve ever stayed with friends or family on vacation, you may be one.

"The summer travel season is here, and many of us will be staying with family or friends at some point in the coming months," said Cameron Siewert, content and community manager at "The trick is to be a welcomed guest and not an inconsiderate mooch – after all, the ultimate goal is to get invited back!"

Other characteristics of a true travel mooch:

  • 65 percent are first and foremost motivated by saving money.
  • They’re unable to afford the trip otherwise: 39 percent cited this as a motivation.
  • They stick around awhile: 25 percent stay for more than a week.
  • They’re not traveling alone: 83 percent bring at least one guest
  • Many stay with friends they’re meeting for the first time: 23 percent of poll respondents said they have or would.
  • Some stay with friends they meet on the Internet: 15 percent of poll respondents said they have or would.

The good news about travel mooches, according to the poll, is that they expect fewer basic hospitalities like linens, groceries and airport transportation; the bad news is that they’re also less likely to offer such hospitalities to their own guests. And significantly fewer mooches enjoy having vacationing guests in their own homes; 8 percent don’t even allow guests to stay.

Besides saving money, what motivates a travel mooch to stay in touch with friends in great destinations? According to the poll, they do value the friendships they cultivate in the process, but they’re significantly more likely than guests to have practical – or even ulterior – motives. Access to local knowledge (43 percent) and having a place to stay (32 percent) are the main reasons given.

"There’s something to be said for staying with a local on your vacation – not only will you save money, but you’ll likely get the inside scoop on the coolest things to do and see," said Siewert." But your host should feel that you value spending time with them – not that you’re simply taking advantage of a free place to crash."

Afraid you’ve crossed the line into mooching territory? IgoUgo editors will help you keep your travel tactics aboveboard with their Ten Commandments of Couch Crashing:

  • 1. Thou shalt give thy host plenty of advance notice.
  • Don’t be the person who calls asking for a place to crash the next day—or even the next week. At least a month in advance is a good rule of thumb.
  • 2. Thou shalt not bring an assortment of friends and pets.
  • If you’re single and traveling with a companion, ask your host for permission to bring him or her along. And if you’ve got multiple people or animals in tow, step back and put yourself in your hosts’ shoes before you even ask.
  • 3. Thou shalt not take hospitalities for granted.
  • Be considerate and double-check with your host about what you should bring. Don’t just assume that towels, sheets, pillows and toiletries will be provided.
  • 4. Thou shalt put the convenience of thy host above all else.
  • You adhere to check-in and check-out times when you stay in hotels. Keep that frame of mind when staying with friends and family: be sure you’re arriving and departing at times that are convenient for them. And unless they offer a ride, make your own arrangements for transportation to and from their home.
  • 5. Thou shalt exercise common decency.
  • Don’t bring new friends back to your hosts’ home. If your hosts drive you places, pay for a tank of gas. Wash your dishes. Take out the trash. Pay for your own groceries… you get the picture.

For the rest of the tips or to post a comment, visit’s travel blog at:

Methodology: This poll was conducted from April 22 – April 28, 2008 with a total of 1,376 respondents. An email invitation to participate was sent to subscribers of’s "Contests and Promotions" emails. To view complete poll results, please go to

About IgoUgo

IgoUgo is one of the most popular online travel communities in the world. Its 350,000 members—world-seasoned and passionate travelers—share firsthand travel experiences, advice, and photos, with candid tips and inspiring stories covering more than 5,500 global destinations. Site users can search by keyword to find reviews by like-minded travelers, as well as destination guides and helpful links. Members can easily contact one another to ask questions, exchange information, and build friendships without geographic bounds. In return for writing reviews, IgoUgo members accrue valuable points redeemable for gift certificates and frequent-flyer miles. IgoUgo has garnered top industry honors, including being named one of Forbes’ “Best Travel Sites” in 2006, a Webby Award for “Best Travel Site in the U.S.,” a “Top Travel Site” ranking from USA Today, and “Best Travel Community” and "Top Travel Site" commendations from Yahoo Internet Life.