7 thoughts on “Couchsurfing – A New Way to Travel: but is it Safe?

  1. I always found couchsurfing to be safe. The key is too contact the people before hand and sort of feel them out. Picking verified people is also a really big help too!

  2. Sounds like a great way to get your stuff stolen. I wonder how many people have lost stuff through these arrangements. I could never trust some random with the keys to my place, even if they have spent a little time getting “vouched for”… sooner or later, I’d wake up and things would be gone.

  3. Hey, I found your blog because its name is similar to mine! This post is intriguing and I’m going to check out that website. Budget Travel did an article on house swapping and the author specifically addrsesed theft. She said she left her laptop on the table for them to use and no, nothing was every stolen! :)

  4. I’ve done a reasonable amount of couchsurfing and would say that it’s essentially completely safe. There have been a few people who have abused the system, but their prescense is so small as to be entirely insignificant.

    The people who have abused the system had almost exclusively really scarce profiles and no contacts, or just contacted couchsurfers last-minute by email. Most couchsurfers have at least a few contacts who are ‘friends’ with them or have left a reference (like facebook, but you can see everyone’s profile)
    To create this with bad intention would be a) really time-consuming and b) a really ineffective way of stealing anyway! Besides, users are monitored for that kind of thing.

    What I’m trying to put across is that the kind of person to steal from you or attack you just isn’t the kind of person open-minded enough to want to couchsurf.

    When you meet someone, you write on their profile a ‘reference’. So you can see what kind of person you’ll be hosting/staying with.

    As for leaving couchsurfers your keys, this isn’t expected at all of a host, but some feel comfortable with it. The host can set any rules they want eg. when to come back etc. so it doesn’t interrupt your life too much.

    To reply to realist’s question, I can tell you that in the last week there were 21,424 real-life introductions, of which 28 were negative. (http://www.couchsurfing.com/mission_stats.html) Negative could be anything, so that doesn’t mean anything major happened, but you can see the statistics show that bad experiences are extremely rare! Of course there’s a risk, but nothing in life is risk free! If you hosted 1,000 people, approximately ONE of these, statistically, would be a negative experience, and most probably just negative in an irritating way.

    And finally, couchsurfing is a great way to meet really cool people, experience new cultures, and have fun! That’s from personal experience!

    Conclusion: have some faith in humanity! :-)

  5. I’ve hosted at least 15 sets of couchsurfers in groups of 2 to 4 and never had a single safety issue or theft problem. The majority of my experiences have been with students from other Europe or China who are spending what many of them consider a dream vacation road tripping across the United States. The vast majority of these people are in awe of the US and are genuinely interested in having literally the time of their lives in what some consider a limited opportunity to come here.

    As Nomadic Matt wrote, the trick is to just feel them out before you invite them into your house. Some of my friends are horrified that I would participate, and others think it’s the coolest thing ever. It’s not for everyone. For me, this isn’t really about letting strangers stay in my home for nothing. It’s about meeting new friends, understanding cultures, and just enjoying people. The phrase I often hear from couchsurfers is that “CouchSurfing is renewing my faith in humanity”. Not only is that true for me, I can honestly tell you that somehow inviting, and then befriending people from around this world is one of the most spiritually satisfying things I have ever done.

  6. The idea behind CS is beautiful. However, as somebody pointed out, the trend CSers are taking is sort of ruining it, in my opinion. More and more you hear about sketchy stories, or hosts who only cares about a free couch, and not about meeting locals, learning the culture, get immersed. So I looked for other sites and all of them looked boring and not well-kept, except for Tripping.com which is still growing. The website looks like they’re actually moving with times, and their focus on safety [they have TripSafe and an emergency line] makes me feel better about meeting and hosting strangers. So far, best traveling site, i’d give it a try.

  7. I think it’s safe… as previously stated, feel the person out before anything. Add them on Facebook if you like and look down their time line if that’s what it takes.

    Personally I have hosted about 5 people within the last month with many more to come…. I haven’t had any safety issues. In fact…. I have had things stolen from me by friends/family more often than a stranger…. Well a stranger has never stolen from my house so there… (Couch Surfer).

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