Couchsurfing as a solo female traveler

Couchsurfing as a solo female traveler

Couchsurfing is an amazing network facilitating travelers. I cannot praise enough the founding fathers of the CS. I have been using it for 5 years both hosting and surfing and 99% of my experiences have been positive. To be fair, I must admit that I am an incredibly optimistic person and generally tend to see only the good in people and situations. I have always ignored those girls complaining of some sort of verbal harassment from hosts. My comment to them has always been – choose hosts wisely, read through their references carefully and you will be safe.

I mostly travel solo and so happened that most of my hosts have been male. Like I mentioned earlier, great experiences 99% of the time. Then there have been a few  when I felt a bit too much pressure from the guy either offering a massage or a midnight bike ride followed by drinks to some local “hidden spot” . But my mind and memory somehow tended to ignore that little bit of “pressure” and highlight other positive moments shared with that host. So it was but it seems I have reached a boiling point when my optimism cannot make up for some male hosts’ opportunism, to put it nicely.

Through traveling solo and mostly while hitchhiking solo I have developed my intuition and grown to trust my gut. Many times it has proved my sensible judgment wrong. So nowadays I simply go with my hunch feeling – if it tells me something is not right, I don’t give it a second thought and abandon the idea.

Now, which countries fall into “Be aware, solo female traveler” category? None in Europe, where I surfed quite a lot. I have also used CS while traveling Turkey and India, and these last two might be a bit of a challenge at times. What do they share in common? Attitude towards sex in society.  It is considered a social norm not to have sex until one gets married. Very often though, it is a one-way street – women must preserve their chastity while men roll around gaining sexual experience. Since you are a female foreigner, a lot of males so wrongly assume that you are going to open up your legs right after they ask your name.

One more important note:  By no means I imply that those male hosts trying to hit on their pretty female guests are perverts or sexual maniacs. They are really nice guys most of the time. And if you happen to surf their couch in a company of at least another friend (female or male) they might not be that courageous to advance on you if you are not showing any interest in them. It is when you are surfing solo they feel bolder and cross that line of being simply accommodating.

What to do when your host is hitting on you and you don’t fancy him? Honesty and being straightforward usually do the trick. You might ignore a few flirty comments and if he doesn’t get it, speak it all out by saying that you feel uncomfortable if he continues and kindly ask him to stop doing whatever makes you feel NOT at ease.

At times when I am having this kind of a bit too pushy hosts, I feel particularly grateful to those amazing male hosts who are truly friendly and see CS NOT as a hook-up tool. If you are planning a trip to either India or Turkey, message me and I would be glad to share their CS profiles with you and help you have a superb experience of the place.

In general, if you are a cute female traveling alone be prepared to be hit on quite often. Men are opportunists by nature and they would almost always opt for giving a try to this flirty line or that ride to a remote cool place. I feel like it is important for them to find this invisible boundary of how far the girl can go if she has the balls to travel solo.

I would love to hear your opinion, fellow travelers, both guys and girls. I have decided to write this post because I could not decide if I should mention these kind of things in my references. I never want to hurt the guy’s feelings because he is being a really nice host but at the same time I feel like I should tell other girls about what they might encounter.

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Julica at 11:53 am

    You wrote a great post about CS, Thank you. I share your views to 100%.

    I also traveled solo and used CS a lot. You mention as challenging countries Turkey and India. I couchsurfed in both of them (and in addition Iran which I would also count to the same category) and it is as you mention: solo male hosts will often try to get a bit further with you than just hosting you. The receipt is as you mentioned: Just tell them firmly that you feel uncomfortable, in general their advances stop then.

    My CS experience have been also 99% positive. Why? Because as you mention I also read the profiles of my hosts and people that want to stay with me carefully. And when traveling in specific countries I often stayed either with couples or with guys still living with their families. And with a positive attitude – which is in my sense an absolute condition for couchsurfing – I also only memorize the positive experiences!

    Mentioning the pushiness of your male hosts in a references had been also a dilemma for me. The host was generally very friendly, just a bit pushy and when I talked openly about me feeling uncomfortable he stopped. So I did not mention it in references. I also assume that other female travelers would apply the same technique so that they won´t come into a situation they don´t want to be in.

    • Elena at 5:09 am

      My dearest Julica, I really appreciate you sharing your CS experience and it is great to know we have been using the same strategy=) You have always provided me with right-on-the spot support and advice needed at the time. I am so grateful to you for that. Many hugs and warm wishes and bestest energies to you, my dear

  2. Hailey at 2:48 am

    References serve a purpose- as a warning and a way to stay safe. I have had a similar experience to you- on CS for years and it was 99% positive! But it was that way because I paid close attention to references. If a guy (or girl) disrespects a guests comfort and personal space and is disregards their request to back off, that should be mentioned in the reference you leave them. I like your attitude and your honesty. To fellow female travelers up for adventure and risk!

    • Elena at 3:54 am

      Thank you a lot, Hailey! It is reassuring to know that you have similar views on the issue. I did mention host’s pushy offers for a massage in the reference and now I am sure I did the right thing.
      Best of experiences to the adventurers!

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