I have been a member of CouchSurfing.org for two years now. This is a well-designed, safe site to meet other travelers who either have a place to stay or are in need of one. The emphasis is on people, however, and not on saving a few dollars.
When I lived in Davis, nobody wanted to stay on my couch (via couchsurfing.org, at least). This is understandable as Davis is not exactly a backpacker's destination. On the flip side, I never needed to use the site to find a place to stay as I always knew someone wherever I was going.
Fast forward to this 2 year journey of ours, and we still haven't used CS yet. I had a friend to stay with in nearly every country in South America. They became our into their culture, but it was a limited view as the rest of our time was spent in hostels or camping. We got burnt out on the hostel scene early on, realizing that if we stayed to the tourist route, we would be seeing the same westerners all the time. From the few times that I checked CS, I remember most of the couchsurfers being young males who smoked.
Now that we are headed to Finland and Russia, I am giving CS another look. I am trying to arrange stays in Helsinki, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. I have high hopes but realistic expectations. I will report back on the results of this experiment.
That being said, if you are already on CS, please befriend us! We can use all of the positive references that we can get. Look for "Danny and Kat" in Hastings.
On other news, we leave in a few hours for our big flights: San Francisco - Chicago - Paris - Helsinki. We arrive Monday and will spend a few days in the city before heading to Mother Russia.