I know I had my reservations when it came to couchsurfing. At first, this network of travelers who wanted to share their homes with other travelers seemed too good to be true. Is couchsurfing safe?
Who were these curious people and why did they want complete strangers in their home? Didn’t they need their “me” time?
Second, as I explored the website, looking for couchsurfing hosts in Paris and Barcelona, I noticed the majority of the hosts were…. men.
Staying the night with a strange man in a foreign country without an incredibly romantic back-story, seemed rather, well, dangerous.
I’ve come to believe that couchsurfing is safe. But, there are ways to make it safer. Here are our top tips for staying safe on Couchsurfing.
Only Stay with Verified Hosts
One of the best things about couchsurfing is their verification system.
To receive verification from the Couch Surfing website, a person has to prove their identity and location. This is done by submitting a donation to the website and replying to a postcard sent to your address.
Then, there are the reviews from people who have stayed there before.
Read the Reviews
Reviews are the best way to see if anything was sketchy, particularly when they come from other solo female travelers.
Couchsurfing was a big hit around 2010, and you could stay almost anywhere in the world for free. These days, I’ve found that couchsurfing is larger in certain areas, and not as present in others.
Brazil has a huge Couchsurfing community, as does Paris. But Los Angeles, for example, won’t have as many active accounts.
Both my potential hosts had been verified through CS and vouched by other travelers. That helped ease my over-active imagination a little, but not completely. I needed to go one step further.
Reach Out to Other Solo Female Travelers
I sent private messages to the females who left reviews on my potential hosts profiles. I asked them their opinion.
Would I, as a female traveling by herself, be comfortable staying with this person? Did she encounter any problems? What else should I know?
All the ladies I asked responded. My potential hosts received positive, even glowing reviews. Yes, they said, I would be safe staying with them.
However, one of them mentioned that my Parisian host liked to smoke marijuana at night. While this wasn’t a deal breaker, it was something I was grateful to know ahead of time.
And so, I confirmed my dates with my Paris and Barcelona hosts. They were both wonderful. My Barcelona host even drove me around town in a red convertible, a la Vicky Cristina Barcelona!
And thanks to my fellow female travelers honesty and help, I had an unforgettable trip. Couchsurfing made my spring break to Europe possible, and gave me a new perspective on traveling.
While I probably wouldn’t couchsurf for an entire trip (I like the built-in community of hostels too much) it is something I would do again.