Plan well ahead – finding a decent host, like anything else worthwhile, can take a lot of legwork.
With thousands of registered couchsurfers, sifting the genuine from the opportunistic is hard work, and takes a keen eye and hard-won experience. Girls have previously written about their CS experiences here and here, both of which have great things to say about it. While I have made some great friends through the process, I’ve found that the larger it became, the less trustworthy and it was simply less work to find a cheap hostel to stay in, without the worry.
That being said, I would not discount the experience: a large percentage of my travels would have been indescribably less rewarding without it.
I would suggest limiting yourself to meeting up for drinks or coffee with fellow couchsurfers initially, rather than jumping into hosting or staying immediately.
Learning to read people takes time and practice, and that really is the key to successful couchsurfing.
There's pretty much an app for everything these days. Dating and sex apps, in particular, have been all the rage recently on Android and i OS smartphones..
Since its inception in the early 2000s, Couchsurfing has been both praised and vilified.
A network of travellers that does much what the name suggests – offers available spare rooms or couches for no cost- immediately presents innumerable perks and simultaneously, throws up flashing danger signs.
For women especially, the wisdom of Couchsurfing has often been called into question.
There have been cases of rape and assault, as well as sexual harassment, on the part of both male and female hosts. But did I get taken advantage of because I was young and didn’t know any better? The plain truth is that some hosts and some surfers see sexual encounters as part of the couchsurfing experience.
The big question is, are these bad experiences the norm, or outliers that mar an otherwise wonderful network of travellers? Indeed, it can be in a genuine way; solid and long-term couchsurfing couples are very common.
As an avid couchsurfer for two years, I would have to say that there’s legitimacy to both sides. After all, you’re in a network with people who share a passion for travel, big hearts and interesting stories.