I have been planning to write this post for weeks but my hectic schedule at the kindergarten has not let me. This weekend I decided to be strict with myself and find some time to finally sit and write what I have been trying to say about my couchsurfing experience in Europe in November/ December 2012.
Before I start, let me explain what couchsurfing is for those who have never heard of it before.
What is Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing has been created by Casey Fenton – an American who set up a web portal that offers its users hospitality exchange (free couch to sleep on, showing around the place, etc.) and social networking services (helping each other with travel issues). The idea is very simple and the portal couchsurfing.org is getting bigger and bigger each day with more than one million registered users from more than 70.000 cities. It’s free of charge and easy to set up. You just need to fill in some personal information, add some photos and get references to look more reliable. You can also get verified to show other members you are who you are saying you are.
Couchsurfing is a great way of exploring places on a budget without spending a lot of money on accommodation. Moreover, you can meet amazing people who can look after you and show you around the city. It’s a great alternative for solo travellers not to feel lonely or for those who are looking for new friendship and fun. On the Couch is the story of Fleur Britten’s adventure staying on the couches of strangers abroad. If you’re thinking about couch surfing this is definitely a must-read – it’ll open your eyes to what you could expect. For me, couchsurfing is a chance to see the places from locals’ perspective. I often ask my hosts to show me areas seldom visited by tourists, tell me some stories about their city and make me feel home. This winter I was travelling solo so it was a good excuse not to feel homesick when backpacking Europe.
Is it safe?
In today’s world nothing’s safe. Let’s face it. Same applies to couchsurfing One can argue that some users are getting verified, you can see their photos and references left by some other couchsurfers, but you can’t be 100% sure who you are being hosted by. It’s so easy for someone to create an image online as a kind-hearted person. Thankfully it’s usually true.
Couchsurfing vs. Sexsurfing
It’s getting more and more popular that girls pick up boys as their hosts and vice versa. Why? For some it’s just someone who seems nice, but for others there are more chances to have “no strings attached” free sex. I have heard of it before but never thought it might have been a true statement. As it turns out, it is. What’s even worse, it sounds so obvious to some people. Let me explain that on my example without mentioning any names. In total, I was hosted by 5 guys and 3 girls during my whole European backpacking. I was asked to have sex twice and 2 people were saying they were hoping to have sex before I had arrived and only one person did not mention anything about that.
I was shocked when I found out that some guys accept couchsurfing requests mostly from Slavic girls thinking they are easy to have sex with. I was even more surprised when I found out that a lot of girls are looking for one night stand as a part of their unforgettable couchsurfing experience.
I might sound like a 80-year-old granny right now, but I openly say NO to that. For me travelling is about seeing new places and not about having sex with random guys.
I sometimes felt uncomfortable with my hosts saying “The door to my bedroom is open all night”! When it happened once I was laughing and taking it as a joke, but it happened more than once. For me it’s simply inappropriate. I might be old-fashioned but for me it takes some time to open up to someone and gaining my trust is not that easy. I must be in love or at least feel a strong connection with the person I am going to sleep with.
The first time I came across Sexsurfing was in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I’ve heard some stories from local boys who hosted girls from all around the world and they slept with more than 3/4 of them. The guys were surprised of how easy it was to do that. I remember one guy saying “White girls are so easy and hot!” I thought they were joking but as it turns out girls are often more pushy than guys when it comes to sex.
The main reason for me for choosing male hosts were my personal preferences. I prefer to hang out with guys to be honest because they normally are funnier, they don’t argue over stupid stuff and I often learn a lot from them especially when it comes to travels. I’m not into shopping and gossiping that much so didn’t take female hosts into consideration. It was my mistake. As it turned out, I had a wonderful time with my Taiwanese girls in Prague and we still keep in touch, whereas some of my male hosts don’t even reply to my messages on Facebook (after I turned them down).
What shocks me the most is not the fact that a couchsurfer and a host might end up in a bed together, but the fact people use this portal to hunt girls for free sex and vice versa. I am now thinking of how many girls may not have a strong personality to refuse…