Couchsurfing is an incredible platform which allows budget travellers to stay on couches all around the world, completely free of charge.
It almost sounds too good to be true. And I was brought up being taught that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
So is Couchsurfing safe? This is such a common question that thousands of travellers have before staying with a host for the first time.
And it’s a super important question and one that should be asked.
I’m a full-time backpacker and I travel everywhere on a budget, so I’m here to answer the question once and for all, as to whether Couchsurfing is safe or not.
Is Couchsurfing safe?
It would be impossible for me to answer this question for definite. I can’t say 100% yes, Couchsurfing is safe and you are guaranteed to have no safety concerns. That would be irresponsible.
What I can say, is that 99% of the time, Couchsurfing is safe. And there are ways in which you can keep yourself safe like there are in all walks of life.
Since Couchsurfing isn’t free anymore, there are fewer hosts on the platform. From my experience, this has eliminated most of the “creepy” seeming hosts where something just felt off about their profile.
So in my opinion, there’s never been a safer time than now- Couchsurfing is much safer than its alternatives.
Of course, I am just speaking from my experience, and other people may have differing opinions. But as long as you do your due diligence and read the references of a host, you can commit to Couchsurfing with a relaxed mind.
By the way, if you are wondering whether backpacking travel is dangerous, it’s not, as long as you take personal safety seriously, it’s just the same as travelling any other way.
Couchsurfing themself have an FAQ section on safety, where you can read about safety while staying at a host’s place and also a way to report any safety concerns if you have any.
There is a risk to any form of accommodation. Hotel? Someone can break into your room. Hostel? Someone can steal your things. Couchsurfing? Well, you’re reading this post for a reason so I assume you have some safety worries.
But the truth is that the vast, vast, vast majority of hosts are simply amazing people. Kind, generous, welcoming people. If you read the Couchsurfing FAQ page, it says that not only are most experiences very safe, but they are life-changing.
And this is true. Couchsurfing is life-changing, there’s a reason it’s a must-have app for solo travellers.
It’s more than just a free place to sleep. It’s about meeting people from all over the world- most hosts will become your friend. It’s about indulging in new cultural experiences- most hosts are more than happy to include you in their culture. It’s about seeing new places and trying new things- most hosts offer to show you around their city/town.
To summarise, it’s impossible to guarantee your safety on Couchsurfing. I can’t be there to personally look after anyone, but what I can say is that from my experience, and thousands of others, Couchsurfing is safe.
Continue reading for safety tips later in the post to help to stay as safe as possible.
Is Couchsurfing safe for females?
I can’t speak on this from personal experience, but I know lots of female travellers, and solo female travellers, that have used Couchsurfing and found it safe.
What I will emphasise is to read the references. Sometimes I will see a review from a female traveller which says the host tried hitting on her, and things like that. Obviously, avoid those hosts.
If you prefer, there are lots of female hosts on Couchsurfing too which you can stay with if it makes you feel safer. In fact, there are lots of female hosts who only accept female guests as they have their own safety concerns.
I’m wary of giving a false impression as I’m not female so I can’t speak from experience, but as long as you do your research, and follow personal safety rules, I imagine you should be okay. And I know lots of people who have successfully Couchsurfed as female travellers.
Is Couchsurfing safe for solo travellers?
Most people who use Couchsurfing are solo travellers, so yes, it’s pretty safe for solo travellers. Again, I can’t say 100% you are guaranteed to be safe while Couchsurfing, as it’s impossible to say for sure, but most Couchsurfing experiences are really safe.
Staying with a host as a solo traveller is great, as oftentimes, you end up making good friends with the host. Most hosts will offer to show you around their town or city, so you will spend a good bit of time together. And after all, they’re letting you sleep in their place.
Solo travellers also tend to have the most open minds, so we’re staying with a host for more than just a free place to stay. But in terms of safety, yes it’s fine.
Just make sure to let someone at home know the address of where you are staying. That’s one of the most important backpacking hacks.
Couchsurfing Safety Tips
Although I have just said that Couchsurfing is safe, there are ways in which you can protect yourself and ensure your own safety. And there are ways in which you can make sure your host is safe to stay with before you rock up at their door. Here are 7 of the best Couchsurfing safety tips:
- Profile Verification: Couchsurfing offers different levels of profile verification to increase trust between hosts and surfers. Users can choose to verify their identity by providing official identification or paying for a verification process. Personally, I only stay with verified hosts.
- User Reviews and References: The platform allows users to leave reviews and references for each other, which can provide valuable insights into a person’s past experiences with hosts or surfers. Probably the number one way to see if a host is safe or not is by reading these reviews.
- Vetting Potential Hosts or Surfers: Before accepting or requesting to stay with someone, it’s essential to thoroughly read their profile, reviews, and references. Look for hosts or surfers with positive feedback and detailed profiles to get a sense of their reliability and compatibility. And don’t sugarcoat things- be honest with yourself.
- Communication and Trust Building: It’s crucial to communicate openly with potential hosts or surfers before finalizing any arrangements. By exchanging messages, you can get a better understanding of each other’s expectations, interests, and values. Trust your instincts and proceed cautiously if something feels off.
- Public and Group Events: Aside from finding a place to stay online, Couchsurfing offers various public events and gatherings that allow users to meet others in a more social and public setting. Attending these events can be a safer way to connect with the Couchsurfing community and potentially find hosts or surfers.
- Safety Precautions: When meeting someone for the first time, it’s wise to take standard safety precautions. Inform a friend or family member about your plans, share your location, and maintain regular contact. Some people I know choose public meeting places initially and gradually build trust before staying at their place.
- Personal Responsibility: Ultimately, your safety also depends on your own judgment and responsibility. If a situation feels unsafe or uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from it. Set clear boundaries and communicate your expectations clearly to ensure a positive Couchsurfing experience.
Follow these 7 tips and you are as close to guaranteed to be safe as possible. But the main takeaway: TRUST YOUR INSTINCT. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
Is Couchsurfing dangerous?
Although there are a few horror stories out there, and there are always going to be some dodgy hosts here and there – remember to read reviews – Couchsurfing isn’t dangerous.
Sure, there are going to be some hosts which are best to avoid, but that doesn’t make the whole platform and concept dangerous.
99% of the time, Couchsurfing experiences are safe. And as long as you follow the above safety tips, the chances are that your Couchsurfing experience will be a safe one too.
If you are Couchsurfing and you feel like you are in a dangerous position, remove yourself from the situation as early as you can and get in touch with someone you trust. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
To avoid dangerous situations as much as possible, read up on your host before staying with them.
Is Couchsurfing Safe: FAQ
Below are some questions related to “Is Couchsurfing safe?” along with my answers.
India is one of the countries that have the most Couchsurfing horror stories. But like anywhere else in the world, there are good hosts out there too. Make sure to read the reviews and be patient, and take your time to find the host which seems to be the safest.
Couchsurfing is pretty safe, as long as you do your due diligence and read your host’s reviews and references in advance. Make sure the person you are staying with has nothing that stands out as a red flag, and follow personal safety rules at all times. Most hosts are lovely people and very welcoming.
It can take a lot of time to find a good host. In cities where Couchsurfing is popular, like Melbourne, some hosts receive up to 50 requests a day. Be patient and take time speaking to hosts personally and don’t just send the same copy and pasted message to every single host you reach out to.
There are no rules on Couchsurfing for a minimum and maximum stay. Some hosts have their own rules. For example, in popular cities to Couchsurf, some hosts don’t accept one-night stays. On the other hand, some people may only allow you to stay for a few nights. It’s completely down to the host individually.
Is Couchsurfing Safe: Conclusion
And there you have it, a complete guide to “Is Couchsurfing safe?”.
Remember, I can’t say 100% it is safe, but it is 99% safe.
Be clever about it, and you will be okay. Read references, follow personal safety, and trust your instinct. That’s how to stay safe when Couchsurfing.
I can’t recommend Couchsurfing enough, it’s really a wonderful experience and I would encourage everyone to try it at least once. Have fun! 🙂