Let’s face it, being a solo traveler when you have a vagina isn’t an easy job. There are some challenges we women face that men probably never have to experience, and when it comes to traveling alone… That’s a lot!
Couchsurfing is one of them. Well, if you use Couchsurfing as a woman who occasionally travels solo, I suppose you’d probably agree that you might have a love-and-hate relationship with the platform.
It’s not just once or twice that I read some thread on female solo travelers group on Facebook that complained about the platform. Some stories were quite troublesome. From some hosts that expected sex, to having to stay in-between 2 hosts who just broke up in a transition period.
So far, I often use Couchsurfing to make a connection with people in my travel. Be it to find a place to crash or simply just get a friend to talk to along the way. Thank God, I’ve never experienced any bad experience through the platform.
And in this post, I would like to share some tips in which I use to prevent any inconvenience that might happen from using Couchsurfing for women traveling solo.
Some Reasons to Use Couchsurfing
The first time I used Couchsurfing, it was back in 2012 when my coworker suggested me to create an account there. I hadn’t started traveling on my own at that time, but my coworker and I got a chance to meet a couple of German travelers when they made a stop in Semarang, the city where we lived at the time.
I never really used the platform until around 2015 when I started traveling on my own.
When You Like to Play Tour Guide in Where You Live
I gotta admit that I rarely use the platform for this. You know, when I’m home, I rarely go out so I’m not exactly the kind of Couchsurfing user who usually plays tour guide in my hometown.
In fact, if I remember correctly, the only time I actually acted as a guide for fellow travelers coming to my city was when I was with Taufan meeting the travelers in Semarang. Other than that, I wouldn’t bother to go out and meet people. #introvertproblem
However, I find this probably useful for anyone who doesn’t travel often. I know some people who do this to get more friends from overseas, or even just for the sake of practicing their English skills.
This is a perfect way to brush on your English when English is not your first language. First of all, it’s free and if you like to explore your own city, it could be a combination of things you love!
When You Try to Push the Accommodation Budget
So, in 2015, I started using Couchsurfing effectively to find new friends during my first solo travel to Vietnam. I also managed to find a host during my short transit in Singapore since the hotel rate in the city-state made me feel singlepoor instead.
It wasn’t my first time visiting Singapore back in the day, and the only reason why I decided to couch in this short visit was that I didn’t think it was worth to pay $30 for an accommodation when I’d be there for less than 24 hours.
But still, I needed a place to crash so I met Peter through the platform and I couldn’t thank him enough.
To date, it was the only time I couched at someone’s place through Courchsurfing since I prefer to book my own accommodation most of the time.
Staying at Peter’s, however, made me sure that the platform is actually reliable if you could find the right host. And for this, I’m glad that I met Peter who I eventually met again one year later when I worked from my company’s Singapore office for a few days.
When You Like Traveling Solo, But You Hate Being Alone All The Time
Guilty as charged, that’s exactly the reason why I use Couchsurfing whenever I travel on my own. If anything, one of the reasons why I travel solo is so I could get new friends along the way. I mean, traveling solo made me easier to talk to strangers.
Couchsurfing would let you connect to the locals, as well as fellow travelers. That way, you can use the platform to meet people for a coffee, or even arrange a trip together.
When You Need Someone to Occasionally Take a Picture of Yourself
Some of you solo travelers are confident enough to travel with either tripod or simply just a selfie stick, but let me tell you this… Not everyone is blessed with that level of confidence. And I am not.
And when you connect with someone through Couchsurfing, these days these people would understand that they might have to take a pic or two of yours when you’re together.
Well, I know too well that one of the challenges you have, when you travel solo, is that it is quite hard to get a decent pic of yourself. When you meet someone for either a coffee or a trip together, at least you could shamelessly ask them to take a few pics of yours. Especially when the place you visit is instagrammable. 😉
Tips to Find Trustworthy People Through Couchsurfing
And the real challenge is to find people who are actually reliable and trustworthy, not just some random hosts who would expect sex in exchange to a place to crash. Am I right?
So, what kind of precautions that you need to pay attention to, before you decide to meet people from Couchsurfing?!
1. Knowledge is power. Google them.
I know the saying that you should never judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to Couchsurfing, I guess it’s important to judge a person by their profile picture. Because you see, when their profile looks too good to be true, chances are, it IS actually too good to be true.
I understand that some of you might have to think twice before befriending some random people on Facebook. And if you can’t just add people on their Facebook profile, then I would suggest you google about them first before saying yes to any kind of appointment.
Make sure that they are a legit person, and not just some kind of imposter trying to take advantage of you on your travel.
If you could find them on Google, then it won’t hurt to let out your FBI skill. Check their social media profile and see what they have in their page or profile.
More often than not, you could find some red flags if they’re not genuine. And when it comes to meeting some strangers through internet, Couchsurfing included, it is definitely better to be prepared than sorry.
2. To be safe, choose fellow female friends than others.
I know this sounds so sexist, but then again I’m not a man-hater. I’m just trying to take precautions for myself.
Of course, I also met some guy friends on Couchsurfing as well. But I usually met them and gave them some details of my travel when I got to the point that I think I could trust them.
Honestly, this is where your instinct could be really helpful to pick which one to be trusted and which one you should totally ignore. Because there are times when I got some message on Couchsurfing when I posted my travel plan, and I checked their profile only to see that it’s probably for my best not to answer to the message.
I often end up meeting up with some fellow female travelers, and I’ve never got any bad experience hanging out with them. I suppose it’s easier for me to get rid of the awkwardness when women could talk about so many things to get to know each other.
As for hanging out with the guys through Couchsurfing, I suppose it’s slightly more challenging. I have to admit that it takes a longer time to break the ice. For example, that time when I decided to couchsurfed at Peter’s place.
He lived with his brother, and blending in with them was quite a challenge. But I’m glad we eventually made it in a way we could talk about some other stuff like jobs, foods, etc.
3. Whatever you plan to do together, always remember that it is important to give each other privacy.
Well, being a strong and independent girl *cough* myself, I tend to do everything on my own. But then again, as I said, I love traveling solo but I just don’t want to be alone all the time.
So, one thing that I usually do when it comes to finding new friends through Couchsurfing is to make sure what we will do together, and also how.
It’s easier to just meet fellow traveler for a drink or dinner, for example. But it won’t hurt to arrange a trip together, with some flexibility applied. Especially when you both travel solo.
I did it with Fiza when we both traveled to Hong Kong, and we decided to go to Macao together. We planned to go together, but we took things slow. Especially when I realized that we actually departed from different harbor from Hong Kong.
I took the right ferry an hour later from Hong Kong Pier, and instead of meeting at 8 in the harbor like we planned out, we made some contingency plan to meet around 11 at the Parisien.
And we made it. We met there on time, and continued our travel in Macao until around 4 PM as Fiza already bought the return ticket back to Hong Kong.
As A Woman Traveler, Do You Trust Couchsurfing in Your Travel?
Well, as for me, I do. I mean, Couchsurfing is a reliable platform to use during my travel. But I still need to be cautious as so many creeps out there and I’m just trying to avoid meeting one. 🙂
Do you have any good or bad experience using Couchsurfing? Drop your comment below and cheerio!