Are you a solo female traveler who wants to see the world on a tight budget?
Let’s break that down a bit:
- Solo female traveler
- See the world
- Tight budget
Traveling solo as a female is no biggie. Plenty of young and adventurous women have bravely gone before you, and many will follow. But seeing the world on a tight budget? That seems a little rough.
But, with the right plan, cheap tickets, and Couchsurfing, the world is at your fingertips. Never heard of Couchsurfing before? It’s a social networking and hospitality platform that lets members arrange homestays free of charge.
Couchsurfing Tips When Traveling Solo
After familiarizing yourself with the platform and creating an account, it’s time to arrange your first trip! Here are a few tips on how to go about Couchsurfing if you’re a solo female traveler.
#1. Check Your City
If you’re a Couchsurfing rookie, get in touch with veteran Couchsurfers in your area. Networking is a great way to get to know the platform without having to spend the night in someone else’s couch. Every city has one, and they usually hold events at a local watering hole or coffee shop.
#2. Ask for Referrals
While you’re at it, do a Facebook search for other Couchsurfing groups in your city. Introduce yourself, make new friends and ask for referrals in the country you want to visit. Fellow surfers who’ve been to the place you’re planning to see will surely have helpful advice for you.
#3. A Couchsurfer’s Profile Says it All
Before you send people some Couchrequests, take time to check out their profile. You’ll be getting a lot of attention from random men, and it can become creepy at times. Always remember that Couchsurfing doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
Ignore requests from males who only have hot women on their friend’s list, or haven’t hosted fellow men — ditto for profiles that have no visited cities and haven’t surfed anywhere. Reviews are a useful tool, but take them with a grain of salt, as not all will be honest.
#4. Scour the Web
Being a solo female traveler, personal safety should be your primary concern above all else. Scour the web for information on your prospects. Social media is there for the picking, and it’s OK to do a little snooping. You can perform a people search if social media doesn’t give you anything.
#5. Get to Know Your Host
If you’re feeling wary about your host, ask that you meet at a public place like a coffee shop. You don’t have to go straight to your Couchsurfing location. If you click with your host, that’s great. But anytime you feel uncomfortable or vulnerable, cancel immediately.
#6. Have a Backup Plan
It pays to have backup accommodations because some events are beyond your control. Know where the nearest hostels are in case your host cancels on you last minute or when your gut tells you the situation is creepy.
#7. Tell People Where You Are
You can post your trip on the Couchsurfing platform to fellow surfers know you’re in the area. Also, check in with someone regularly and let the person know where you are and who you’re staying with.
#8. Don’t Get Wasted
Yes, it’s easy to get hammered while you’re out, but keep in mind that you’re far away from home. It’s okay to have a few drinks but try to keep your wits about you to avoid getting taken advantage of.
#9. Get a Cheap Smartphone
Don’t risk your expensive iPhone when out exploring. Get yourself a cheap phone, install Uber, Google Maps and buy a local SIM card. If a place becomes too sketchy, call an Uber and get the heck out. Also, have the numbers of the local emergency services and a reliable taxi on speed dial.
Thanks to platforms such as Couchsurfing, anyone can travel and see the world solo. But going alone is trickier for women, especially when it comes to personal safety. The number of weirdos on the platform has risen ever since it got sold in 2011 so it pays to be prudent.
Take the time to review your host’s profile and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Keep a safety-first attitude, relax, have fun and immerse yourself in the local culture.