If you haven’t heard of Couchsurfing, take a look at our post on Couchsurfing and best practices here.
Popular amongst many a backpacker as one of the best means to stay at and experience the culture at new destinations, Couchsurfing is seeing an increasing number of users across the globe. Some, however, find the notion of accommodation at a foreign house a little daunting and these fears are exacerbated with the reading of reports of unsolicited sexual advances made at Couchsurfers by their hosts.
Safety during travels is a very real concern and we at Travset understand this. It is with this in mind that we have collaborated with several of our most seasoned female travel veterans to produce this guide on how to stay safe during your Couchsurfing travels.
Choose a host with more references
This might seem rather obvious but as a solo female traveler it is is wise to pick hosts you know has been vetted by many travelers before you. If these references are from female travelers, all the better! You can alternatively write to these travelers and ask for more information should you need further reassuring as well.
Get to know each other
Make sure you read a host’s profile in order to understand their interests and house rules before you reach out with a request or accept an invitation. If you reach out in advance you can exchange a few emails and get to know each other better prior to the meeting.
Meet in public and let your gut do the deciding
Hosts who are perfectly normal online turn out to be completely different in real life. It is therefore wise to meet your host in a public location such as a coffee shop and get to know them prior to going back to the accommodation.
The advantage of this approach is that it will give your intuition enough time to get a feel for your host and to access if they are to be trusted or not.
Have a backup plan
If your host does not show up, is not reachable or does not seem trustworthy, it is best to have a backup plan for accommodation. We recommend doing some research on hostels or budget hotels in the location you will be in well in advance.
Travset Tip- some hotels and hostels offer reservations without any cancelation penalties. Make one in advance prior to meeting your host.
Keep friends and family in the know
Let your friends and family know where you will be staying at and use periodical check-ins with them to ensure your safety.
If the host makes unwelcome advances it is important that you let it show. Being a surfer does not in debt or make you a target for such advances and it is wise to take advantage of the backup accommodation option if the host continues to behave in a manner that makes you uncomfortable.
Leave a review
If your experience with a particular host was unpleasant, it is important that you leave a review stating as such. Be detailed so that other Couchsurfers will heed your warning prior to staying with the said hoist.