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Old 04-03-2008, 06:52 AM
 
Location: NYC
53 posts, read 177,313 times
Reputation: 43

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I previously posted this on the 'general moving issues' forum, but realized it would probably be more appropriate here..

Has anyone ever couchsurfed or hosted a couchsurfer before? If don't know what that is, it's a program where you can travel and stay at people's homes for free with the purpose of promoting cultural diversity and the whole idea of helping out fellow travelers. I'm planning on driving across country in a couple months and in order to cut down on costs I was thinking of trying out couchsurfing but am a little worried. I'm a younger female traveling alone and am concerned about safety since it'll just be me. What have people's experiences been with this?

Also, would it be ok to stay with people for just one night? Based on the website it seems like most people stay a few days and hang out with their host, but since I'll be in the process of moving I'm not looking to sightsee much while traveling. Thanks!
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Old 04-03-2008, 12:29 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
3,871 posts, read 15,507,299 times
Reputation: 2637
Hi snowlove. What has to be your main priority here? SAFETY. The expectation that you will actually survive the experience, and come out alive, and not damaged physically, emotionally, spiritually or intellectually. Right?

I Googled and found that "couchsurfing.com" and "couchsurfing.org" are the same website. And the question "Is this safe?" is not exactly answered.
The answer says: "Every user is linked to the other users he or she knows in the system through a network of references and friend links". How many people do you know in the system whom you can contact in a second, who will come to your aid in moments or minutes?

In addition, they say they have a "vouched-for" method and a "verifying" method. "Members can only become vouched for by an already vouched for CouchSurfing.com member. Essentially, it's a trust circle." So basically it's a word-of-mouth system, and at this early stage in its development it is entirely possible that people can say anything they want to say
-- with no on-site inspection of places to stay,
-- no eye-to-eye inspections of and conversations with the people in whose homes you will be absolutely vulnerable while you are asleep,
-- no verification of the safety of the neighborhoods in which these homes are located,
-- no verification of how difficult or dangerous it would be to drive through the neighborhoods in which the homes are, or how dangerous it would be to leave your vehicle unattended overnight while you're asleep.

I'm a female too, and by myself I've taken a lot of interesting risks in my life, and this is one risk I would NOT take. There is no oversight, and no one is ultimately responsible for anything. They could rob you, rape you, murder you, and bury your body outside of town and no one would know.

I would not do this. If you were a man, or if this were Europe which is a different world, this might be doable. But in the U.S. today there is too much potential for insanity multiplied by all the strangers involved. If I were in your shoes, I would work a little longer and save several hundred dollars for motels, and sell some of my possessions (which are almost all replaceable) to get more money, or I would borrow money from people who care about my well being.

Snowlove, I hope you make a choice that will enhance your life and make you feel proud that you love yourself...

Last edited by allforcats; 04-03-2008 at 12:43 PM..
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Old 04-03-2008, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Olympus Mons, Mars
5,677 posts, read 8,588,145 times
Reputation: 5768
going inside the home of a person who you know only through the internet and weak references (circle of trust thing) is very dangerous. If someone you trust with your life vouches for this person then I guess it's acceptable otherwise it's not worth the risk. I don't know I am just conservative in this regard but I know some girls who will not give this a second thought, but then they may also wind up on the evening news.
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:53 AM
 
Location: NYC
53 posts, read 177,313 times
Reputation: 43
Thank you allforcats and k374 for your input, and I really appreciate your concern for my safety! To clarify, I am not "that" young (I am 23), and I do have enough money saved to stay in hotels if needed. I've just heard good things about this program and thought it'd be something fun and different to try. I was also planning on staying with other girls within 2 or so years of me and who are usually students. I felt this would be safer and also more fun. I will take what both of you have said into consideration, though, and thanks again for the responses!
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:19 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,906,509 times
Reputation: 13245
I posted a reply on your general moving issues post, and don't want to repeat myself, but as I mentioned, my kid found a place to live that way.
I don't think I will change anyone's mind, but I can say that my son has several female friends who, during the past two years, have used and continue to use Couchsurfing. None of them got robbed, raped, or ended up on the evening news. If anything, they've made new friendships.
Can bad stuff happen? Sure--anywhere. Just ask the female residents of Boca Raton how they feel about the Town Center Mall.
People who do not trust Couchsurfing's verification system should probably not use Couchsurfing. It is indeed a leap of faith, but it can be very rewarding.
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:23 AM
 
2 posts, read 11,016 times
Reputation: 17
Unhappy hospitality exchange (couchsurfing) is a beautiful and powerful idea!

Dear snowlove, K374 and allforcats,

I found this forum by coincidence and had to sign up just to give you some positive input, because while your - snowloves - question is relevant and important, I was outraged (minor exaggeration) by the lack of trust found in the replies by 'allforcats' and 'K347'. I now see that my reply is very late, but perhaps someone's still active here.

I should say that I am a European male (25 years), as I'm sure you believe this to be significant - which of course it is. Surely, however unfair it may be, it IS safer to travel as a guy/man than as a girl/woman - unfortunately sexual harassment is here to stay as a part of (hu)man's sometimes destructive nature. BUT,

I am an active couchsurfer; I was introduced to it by an american friend I made when travelling. I've surfed people's couches around Central and Eastern Europe, and I'll be surfing in Latin America, everywhere I go. I've hosted a number of people at my flat, and live with a (girl) best friend who is also active in CouchSurfing and has good experience. I have met a large number of other couchsurfers this way, including in very friendly, decent and effective forums much like this one. CouchSurfing is based on the idea that a cultural and hospitality exchange based on trust is possible - and that through this powerful idea, it is possible the change the world little by little into a better place. Yes, there has been some bad experiences, as there are bad encounters in our everyday life - stuff happens. But I must say that it is a very very rare phenomenon that people have very negative experiences, and if they do have a bad experience, it is easily reported. In my every experience, CS is a safe project – as long as you take the time to get an impression of the people you're contacting. There are many ways of telling whether the other is trustworthy - with every new encounter, people leave positive or negative references to eachother, which can not be deleted or ignored. Scroll down the page of a profile and you can read not only what the person says about him/herself, but also what other people say about him/her. Very few members have negative references. Some statistics (from couchsurfing.com front page) as of a couple minutes ago:

CouchSurfers 574,063
Successful Surf or Host Experiences 462,554
Friendships Created 591,636
Positive Experiences 942,565

in the last hour,
there were 119 real-life introductions (99 positive, 0 negative)
and 43 new couches (68.3% of 63 signups)
the last day: 2,394 real-life introductions (1,953 positive, 3 negative)
966 new couches (69.9% of 1,381 signups)
the last week: 16,209 real-life introductions (13,787 positive, 20 negative) 6,372 new couches (70.6% of 9,020 signups)

The gender statistics is 50/50, and this includes a great deal of young women like yourself, and you're welcome do to a couchsurf without signing up, to see for yourself what they are saying about their experiences. You can not, however, use the system to get in contact with anyone without signing up. I suggest you simply visit the site itself ([url=http://www.couchsurfing.com/]CouchSurfing[/url]).

The many testemonies speak clearly (in my opinion). yes, I do love the idea of CouchSurfing, but this is not an advertisement (well, maybe it is). I believe that in the very most cases you can trust people - if you really trust, people will trust you back. If you do good things, good things will come to you. Maybe not always, but mostly.

Please, even if no-one of you is still reading in this forum (I wish I could write you directly), I do hope that someone reads and understands my plea: to give back some trust in other people. I have some comments on 'allforcats' post:

"Every user is linked to the other users he or she knows in the system..."How many people do you know in the system whom you can contact in a second?" "
none, if you never give it a try. But after the first month of 'surfing' I feel I have new friends in other countries whom I would trust more than my neighbour.

"at this early stage in its development it is entirely possible that people can say anything they want to say"

sure. But you still have your own judgement intact, no? If not = look at what other members have to say!
The stats above should tell you that it's not in early stage of development.

"no on-site inspection ..... no eye-to-eye inspections of and conversations of people in whose homes you'll be absolutely vulerable... no verifications of safety in neighbourhoods .... no one is responsible for anything... etc."
I presume you who are writing this is a big fan of the whole 'homeland security' thing in the US spreading to Europe. I believe you will probably never be able to trust other people, and you're not alone. Please don't take it as an offence. The answer to all of the above: YES, there ARE MANY ways of investigating the safety in the neighbourhoods, the people etc. One idea: just ask!
Ultimately you're are not responsible for your enqueries and not obliged to do anything you don't feel safe about, such as taking an offer for a place to stay, a cup of coffee, anything. Think for yourself and trust people on CS as much as you'd trust people you meet in the street.
In 'allforcats' case, this might not be very many people, though. Thanks for reading - if you strongly disagree or want to continue the conversation, please write me at [email]thomaselstedr@gmail.com[/email], as I may not come back to this forum. Alternately, visit my CS profile and leave a message: [url=http://www.couchsurfing.com/people/thomaselsted]CouchSurfing - Thomas Elsted Rasmussen[/url]

take care

Thomas Elsted Rasmussen
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Old 06-06-2008, 11:34 AM
 
2 posts, read 11,016 times
Reputation: 17
Default pseudonyms

I'd also like to comment on the fact that on Couchsurfing you can actually contact people (everyone) directly, see photos of them and in most cases –completely unlike here– actually see people's names instead of the hazy pseudonyms found here. I've no idea who I'm talking to, if anyone; unlike Couchsurfing.

Thomas Elsted

[url=http://www.couchsurfing.com/people/thomaselsted]CouchSurfing - Thomas Elsted Rasmussen[/url]
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Old 06-11-2008, 07:36 AM
 
Location: San Antonio (NW)
55 posts, read 148,045 times
Reputation: 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by snowlove View Post
I previously posted this on the 'general moving issues' forum, but realized it would probably be more appropriate here..

Has anyone ever couchsurfed or hosted a couchsurfer before? If don't know what that is, it's a program where you can travel and stay at people's homes for free with the purpose of promoting cultural diversity and the whole idea of helping out fellow travelers. I'm planning on driving across country in a couple months and in order to cut down on costs I was thinking of trying out couchsurfing but am a little worried. I'm a younger female traveling alone and am concerned about safety since it'll just be me. What have people's experiences been with this?

Also, would it be ok to stay with people for just one night? Based on the website it seems like most people stay a few days and hang out with their host, but since I'll be in the process of moving I'm not looking to sightsee much while traveling. Thanks!

A good friend of mine has hosted several times and I have met him and his "couchsurfer" buddies out for drinks and they have all seemed to be really nice people. You can never be to sure but then again you can never be to sure of your neighbors.......
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Old 06-11-2008, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,036 posts, read 22,010,926 times
Reputation: 19908
Try
Free Accommodation world wide through Hospitality Exchange - Hospitality Club I find it quite a good organisation and have met a lot of people through it. Some people offer accommodation so just offer to show you around and have dinner etc..

I think it's one of the biggest organisations in the world I think.
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Old 06-15-2008, 02:31 PM
 
Location: pittsburgh
325 posts, read 990,306 times
Reputation: 142
I have never heard of "couchsurfing" but in my opinion as a 28 yr old female I would not participate in such activities nor would I recommend it. I think it is a fantastic idea in theory but the reality of the situation is that it could be potentially unsafe. Its great to hear that some ppl have had sucess with this and I would never wish any ill will on anyone, but this seems like its playing a game of russian roulette. You never know when something bad could happen. I agree with the previous poster who suggested working a little harder and saving a little more cash for hotels.
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