For a final project in my social media class, one of my classmates researched Couch Surfing, a web site that lets you connect with people around the world to find a place to stay when you’re traveling. I had heard of couch surfing before, but I hadn’t even thought about it for my trip before my classmates presentation. It seems like a great way to meet locals and learn more about the culture you’re experiencing. It also seems like it can save you a lot of money.
But there are also safety concerns. In 2009, a woman was raped by a man she met and decided to stay with via couchsurfing.org, but this seems to be a pretty isolated incident. This article from Nomadic Chick details a lot of the concerns and benefits of couch surfing, and points to safety tips for women traveling alone. Couch Surfing also has a detailed safety page and discussion groups that focus on safety.This incredibly honest Reddit thread talks about sex between couch surfers and hosts, and also points out that a lot of the safety articles about women couch surfers victimize women travelers in general. You can also choose whether you want to stay with single men, single women, couples, etc., though I don’t think it’s fair to assume single men who host couch surfers are all abhorrent. There are a lot of concerns to weigh when thinking about couch surfing, but isn’t traveling alone dangerous anyway? Is couch surfing more dangerous than staying with a random group of people in a hostel?
This video seemed to tell a lot about the positive aspects of couch surfing, and I liked the tips at the end, even though they seem like common sense to me. I’m a little apprehensive about couch surfing, but I’m also curious. I do think that even if I decide to do some couch surfing, I’ll plan to stay in some hostels too. Hostels are a pretty quintessential part of backpacking, and I want the experience for sure. I’ll have to keep all of this in mind once I start planning my trip more.