Couchsurfing or Sexsurfing? What is the Difference Nowadays?

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.

Couchsurfing vs. Sexsurfing

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 (you can host travellers or get hosted when traveling) 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.

Me and a fellow couchsurfer in Amsterdam
Me and a fellow couchsurfer in Amsterdam

Why couchsurfing?

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. You can get the book here.

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 traveling solo so it was a good excuse not to feel homesick when backpacking Europe.

Me and my hosts in Wroclaw.
 Me and my hosts in Wroclaw

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.

My amazing Taiwanese hosts in Prague
My amazing Taiwanese hosts in Prague

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.

My host and fellow couchsurfers in Amsterdam
My host and fellow couchsurfers in Amsterdam

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 traveling is about seeing new places and not about having sex with random guys.

My hosts in Brussels
My hosts in Brussels

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.

Me and my host in Berlin
Me and my host in Berlin

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.

Cooking some Vietnamese food with my host in Brussels.
Cooking some Vietnamese food with my host in Brussels

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…

How about you? Do you agree? Have you had any Couchsurfing/Sexsurfing experience when traveling? Share your thoughts in comments.

I am really curious of what you might think and thank you in advance!

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About Agness

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"


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442 Comments

  • This is a fantastic post, Agness, especially when you mention at the end about people who may not have the personality to refuse, even if they wanted to.
    I think Couchsurfing is a great site. I want to be able to use it more, but people just need to be a lot more savvy with it and be brave enough to say no when they mean NO!!
    I agree with you on the points about having guys as surfers/hosts, but at the same time, we don’t live in a world with just one sex (this would normally lead onto my rant about single-sex schools, but not here ;))

    Brilliant article – I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again :)

    • Thanks Sarah. You are so quick with your comment :-). Girls should know what they sign up for! I want to her about your rant about single-sex schools !!! :) Will message you on Facebook hihi

      • HI Agnes I totally agree with you.
        I have surfed both guys and girls and although never got into any awkward situation, it is true that some of my male hosts stopped contact with me after I left and didn’t even bother to leave me a nice reference (after I left them a super nice one). And that makes me think that the reason is that I didn’t sleep with them so… On the other side I also had some male hosts who never expected sex from me and who were very nice. Next time, try to let them know in advance that you are not into sleeping with strangers, tell them you have a boyfriend back home or something. Or, try to get a host who has girlfriend so that you’ll know they won’t hit on you. Also reading their previous references from females also helps you understand about the guy. And last thing, don’t think you sound old because you don’t!!! you sound very mature and responsible and you respect yourself. I also wouldn’t sleep with someone whom I have just met, I find that gross, but as we all said, everyone is different. Good luck in your future surfing experiences with males, or females.

      • I’m a male and live in Toronto and I CS a male who stayed with me for a 1 week, the first 4 days were great we visited all the local destinations but on the night of 5th day I was sleeping on my bed on the stomach and he came from behind and started to dry humping my ass which woke me up and scared the shit out of me, I managed to get him of me and he turned out to be a gay. It was the worst CS experience I had, he almost raped me!

    • As a single guy in my 30’s I’ve had many female Cs’s stay with me. Never for sex. I simply enjoy other cultures and the company. Never had men or couples cause I don’t want any troubles. Had occasions when sex was implied but it came from young girls traveling alone and I did not encourage anything to happen.
      Recently had one over at my place, wasn’t supposed to happen but we met in town while she was saying with someone else. Spent the evening together and just really hit it off, chemistry at work. She moved her stuff to my place, stayed 3 days,spent all this time hanging out, talking, cooking, visiting, sleeping together but never had sex. We are still in contact and she plans on coming back to stay with me this winter.
      Couch surfing is not a way to hook up, it’s a way to meet people. Some become friends and invite you into their country of origin or into their life.

    • No offense but it sounds really weird. I don’t find that story charming;I find it creepy as hell. Oh, i just met you;let’s get married bc i am too afraid to talk to texans.

    • Interestingly I have found similar statistics as a male couchsurfer.

      However it is much easier to say no, than it would be for a woman in a unfamiliar place. However it made for some uncomfortable experiences and feelings that I may have ‘led on’ my hosts.

      Now I often tell people I have a girlfriend and would try to have a phone call atleast and if possible to meet somewhere public before heading to their house so I have more time to know them a little

  • A very interesting post Agness. Although the concept of couchsurfing is incredibly useful, and helps so many people to make travel affordable, it’s not something I’ve done myself – and I think a part of it is because of this underbelly.

    It’s a shame that sites which are used for the greater good, could end up turning a trip very sour. But thankfully, like you mentioned, situations like these are in the minority. I wouldn’t rule out couchsurfing because the idea of someone teaching me about their culture and their country is the kind of stuff which makes travel rewarding.

    You definitely don’t sound like a granny – you sound like a respectable young woman! I honestly don’t know how I would react to being in a situation where I was propositioned by essentially a stranger, in a closed environment… probably brought on trial for manslaughter ;-)

    • Thanks Shing for sharing your thoughts. Couchsurfing is useful indeed but next time I will go for a female host, that’s for sure. Thanks for saying some many kind words about me.

      • Thanks Agness, for yet again a great post!!!
        While living in Phuket, we know a few people (our friends) that host others through Couch Surfing – and they would tell us gross stories about their sexual ‘acts’ or whatever you call it – with these STRANGERS – it’s horrible, man!!! I would definitely stay with girls JUST for this reason – and guys tend to be the serial killers – so I’ll feel safer with girls :) :)

      • Hi Lourika. Thank you for sharing that. That’s so gross! Look after yourself and go for female hosts!

      • Lourika, careful of the subconscious prejudice inherent in your words (speaking as a ‘weird’ guy who often gets prejudice, even though I’m a moral person with very strong self-control indeed so I find it offensive that I must hide my weirdness just to make insecure women feel secure like it’s not their responsibility to know what KIND OF weirdness is dangerous, or just be trained in self-defence like is useful to everyone… and not project their fears onto ‘weirdos’ or males in general – it does end up hurting guys in a similar way to those who assume things based on women who act a certain way…)
        “and guys tend to be the serial killers”. Er, yes, it’s a well-known FACT that MOST (>50%) of guys are serial killers, i.e. guy TEND TO BE serial killers.
        Nice logical failure (girls tend to have these). Look at all the people who read it and didn’t notice or think it worth commenting on. Because, if you look around, prejudice against males = tolerable. Prejudice and abuse against females = somehow more of a crime than the above. You KNOW this is a common cultural prejudice in Western society. But WHY? It must end!
        One of us is making a statement about gender that is prejudiced. And it’s not me. Girls tend to have less logical brains than guys. That IS an overall trend. Serial Killing is NOT, on the other hand.
        You meant:
        “Serial killers tend to be male.”
        Sorry to ‘troll’ or be harsh about logic, but I’ve SUFFERED because of the prejudice inherent in your ‘Freudian slip’… it has enabled MUCH abuse from females in my life to go unseen, uncared-about and what goes around, comes around. I’m not an abuse-sponge for weak female egos with no self-control, and neither are other guys, and lying about how bad males are, making it a form of PREJUDICE, only enables this abuse. Face it…

        The only sin in my ethical code, really, is that of ignorance and/or hypocrisy (from which all other evil follows)…
        Peace. Especially as I’ve just given you a big clue how to get a bit more peace in this world, if you do your part to be fair to men (and they’ll reciprocate, we’re human).

  • Hey,

    Great post! When I was traveling around India I used to call it “wife surfing” because – even though I never actually couchsurfed during my time there – I would get 100s of couchsurf requests a week from guys who were obviously after a bit more than a simple meet-up/homestay. I had originally planned to couchsurf when I arrived in India, but the messages I received were so bad that I felt uncomfortable to do so, feeling sure that couchsurfing did NOT have the same connotations in India as it perhaps does in other countries.

    I would like to think that the larger proportion of the couchsurfing community would aim to make people feel comfortable in their homes, and not abuse the position they are in by confusing the situation with sexual advances, but I’m not so sure. For me, personally, I would never feel comfortable couchsurfing with a man. I always stick to female hosts and I’ve never had any problems yet.

    So I’m interested Agness – does this mean you won’t be couchsurfing with men anymore? Have your experiences put you off completely??

    • Hey Natalie. I can only imagine what is happening in India. I went to Sri Lanka once and was wearing shorts. All men were starring at me and some of them were smacking my butt. I had to get back to my hostel and change my clothes for long jeans. Of course, I still believe that the larger proportion of the couchsurfing community does aim to make feel people comfortable in their homes. There are a few exceptions though. I met some nice and interesting people though couchsurfing who made me feel very welcome and comfortable. Answering your question, for now I am not planning to do any couchsurfing but if I do it again I will go for a female host, but I am not saying no to male hosts, just need to find the right person.

      • What a world of a difference between being a man vs. a woman!

        I’ve had 150 CS experiences. Nearly 2/3 of my hosts were women. Yet just a couple of all those experiences led to sex (I share those experiences in my book, “The Hidden Europe”).

        There are two lessons from this:

        1. Men are expected to make the pass. Since I don’t make passes at female CSers, nothing happens.

        2. I’m obviously not attractive enough to convince 99% women to make a pass. :D

        The only time sex happened was when I was attracted to the girl AND she made a move on me.

        C’mon fellas, it’s just common sense! You don’t make a pass to a female CSer! Whether you are hosting her or she is hosting you, if you make an unsuccessful pass, then you will create an uncomfortable situation for both of you for the rest of your time together. So just don’t do it!

        But I’m not the only gentleman out there. For example, in Greece a female was staying with a Greek male CS host. She told another Greek girl (who had also hosted CSers), “I love my CS host! Why doesn’t he make a move on me? Are Greek guys shy? Do Greek guys not make passes at girls?”

        The Greek girl laughed and said, “You idiot! Under normal circumstances he would make a pass, but he’s your CS host, so he won’t do that! If you want to sleep with him, you have to make the pass, honey!”

        Good advice. :D

        After I heard this story, I assumed that most guys do what I do. Therefore, it’s shocking and disappointing that you’ve have so many bad experiences with male CS hosts. :(

        Agness, my only advice is to go ahead and try again, but when you pick male hosts, look for ones who have either had 10+ female guests (and read their references to make sure the women didn’t complain about him making them feel uncomfortable).

        You can also put on your profile that you’re not interested in CS (CouchSurfing) not CS (Casual Sex). However, that may not deter many men, who boastfully believe that they can convince you to change your mind. ;)

        If you’re curious, here’s my profile:

      • It is not fair to generalize Indian men based on your experience is all what I can say. I do agree that there are some perverts who do exploit the trust reposed in them to their own vested interests but that does not mean all men in India are bad. I have friends from Netherlands and Switzerland who have come and stayed over and I am sure they will never have anything negative to say about us. Last year 3 Austrian girls couched surfed at my friends place and no issue happened. It is important to adhere to certain safety measures from before;
        (a) Always inform your friend, family, of your plans and with whom you would be staying. Make sure you verify the veracity of the individuals. For this a personal meeting is important, although thats a very small window to know a person.
        (b) Always keep speaking to your friends or guide or a local contact at least in your hosts presence so that he knows your local contact knows with whom you are;
        © Always lock your room and sleep unless you wanna invite someone over to your bed;
        (e) keep a small sachet of chill power around you so that in case someone tries something untoward you can blow something into his eyes so that you get the time to run out of that situation.
        (f) Please go for those hosts who have been vouched for;
        (g) lastly never ever try drugs or drink in the house unless you have poured it yourself.

        Another observation! Srilanka is not a part of India. In fact there is a lot of cultural differences between the two countries. It would be correct to state that its traditions are similar to that of people living in Tamil Nadu but then you would get leered at in many places across the country where people have still not been able to accept all the nuances and mannerisms of Western Culture.

        I sincerely hope you next visit to India is a memorable one.

        Cheers!!!

      • Yes listen to Saswat,

        The Indian man is totally fine as long as you are locking your door, not accepting any food or drink, and carrying some corrosive powder to blow into his eyes and prepared to run very fast.

    • Nathile

      I think that is a little biased. I am a men and I had host who were female and I did not expect anything from them. I don’t think CS is for sex however I believe it can happen. I know that men are more often than woman to ask for something “special” but I just don’t agree with that fact that all men are like that. I just enjoy people company and no matter if you a woman or not, it would be great. Although, I have hosted more woman than men I still believe in that.
      Michael

    • Hi,

      Im sorry not all Indians are as bad as you say. Im sure lot more decent and good indians do exist. Good in hospitality, honest and decent human beings.

  • Obviously, I figured some people would use couchsurfing to try to get laid, but I had no idea it was so prevalent. On a completely unrelated note, I finally decided to create a couchsurfing profile…

      • Actually……I still don’t have one. I’m too pretty. After reading your post I’m afraid any girls I hosted would just try to take advantage of me.

        On a more serious note, I suppose it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of guys who will try to take advantage of a system that grants them access to a single woman’s apartment or sends single women to their apartments.

        I even remember seeing a post on some guy’s blog that gave step by step instruction on how to use courchsurfing to hook up with local women in foreign countries.
        I read it six times.

      • What!? A step instruction on how to use CS to hook up with local women? I’m speechless. “I read it six times” that made me laugh :P:P

      • Couchsurfing is very commonly used especially by men both gay and straight to get sex. It seems a pretty desperate way and not a lot of people leave negative references for these types of scumbags.

      • I wish one day come to my house until see found family as God love give you . . . you say true but we must believed to God

  • I sit somewhere in between here. I agree completely that I couchsurf to experience the culture and hang out with locals and have a good time in the city I’m in. I also think it’s sleazy and crappy that a lot of people expect sex in the deal, and I’ve even heard of some that get pushy about it and get upset if someone refuses. Men do tend to be pretty bad about this, and it’s a shame. However, I don’t see anything wrong with “hooking up” with a CSer if you two “click.” I’ve slept with a couple couchsurfers that I’ve stayed with – I never expect anything at all, but if we are obviously attracted to each other and it leads to sex, then I think that’s OK. I just think it’s wrong to expect it or be pushy about it.

    • Thanks Chris for sharing your opinion here. It’s pretty bad guys expect sex in return and I know what you mean by guys being pushy about it. If you both “click” and you are attracted to each other it’s fine but I still don’t get how people can have sex right after they meet especially when one of them is leaving soon.

      • I understand and respect that, but everybody’s different. It’s a very personal thing. I don’t have to be in love with someone to sleep with them, but I do have to really like them. I feel like while traveling, relationships are put on fast-forward a bit and it’s easier for me to become really close to someone in a short period of time. The thing about “how people can have sex right after they meet especially when one of them is leaving soon” is that you both have the same intentions and know what’s going on. You know where your relationship stands. There’s no deception or trickery there, you both know it’s temporary. Having said that, I do feel very close with the women I’ve been with and not only try to keep in good touch with them, but also make a real effort to see them again if it’s possible. I think it’s just different while traveling – it’s all part of the experience and fun and craziness :)

      • I know what you mean. I met a lot of backpackers on the road who said the same. The hooked up a lot with local women saying it’s a part of travel adventure and craziness. In some way I understand it, but as you said everyone’s different and it’s not how I was brought up :):).

  • I always did feel that couchsurfing was a really unsafe situation, especially with male hosts. I am anything but surprised by this, though I did hope I was wrong. I do think that some people might find it hard to say no, and some men might not respect a no (most sexual assaults are by people known to their victims, and rarely take place on the street), which is such a fertile ground for sexual assault. I am all for no-strings attached sex and anything goes between consenting adults. Couchsurfing, though, does seem to put women at risk and a disadvantage more than other situations.

    • Agree. What’s more, you don’t really realize what risk you put yourself at unless you bump into an asshole.

  • Agness, you don’t sound like an 80-year-old granny! This is a real concern for those travelers who aren’t looking for sex. When my friend and I were planning a trip to Scandinavia a few years ago, we decided to try couchsurfing and wanted to find female hosts for our first time. We were initially very hesitant about this very issue! However, due to the lack of female hosts we ended up staying solely with male hosts in 3 different cities.

    None of our hosts ever even hinted at having sex with us, which makes me wonder if hosts feel more comfortable suggesting a bedroom romp with a solo female couchsurfer. In any case, we had wonderful hosts. After reading about your experience I’m even more grateful for our terrific first experience with couchsurfing!

    • Thanks Cassandra for your comment. I’m happy you had a great time with your host. I also spent some great time with certain hosts on my CS. I never said my whole CS experience was bad. There were some amazing hosts I am still in touch with, but there are of course some people who never replied to my messages after they got turned down. It happens :)

  • So true.
    I hosted a lot when I was still living in Amsterdam. I lived on my own so I always was a bit careful with accepting requests from men. But after some really cool experiences hosting girls, I decided I would accept a man. He was Australian and he seemed very laid back and cool.
    So, the first night..I put him on a mattress on the floor and got in my bed. After 10 minutes or so he started saying his mattress was shit and he asked if he could share my bed. I should have known his intentions but I didn’t. He kept asking and at one moment even put his hands under my blanket. I tried to stay nice but at that point I told him to shut up and go to sleep. The next morning I woke up with him in my bed. I’m pretty sure he didn’t do anything but still..WHAT THE FUCK. The next night I invited two of my male friends over for a sleepover. They slept beside me in my bed to make sure he wouldn’t try anything again (I should have kicked him out but he was sort of broke and I felt sorry). The next morning he left as soon as he could and I never heard from him again.
    I also couchsurfed a lot in Europe myself, but always with a friend. We always chose male hosts but never had any problems, thank god!

    • What!??? That’s what I was talking about. Some people use CS to get into your pants at all costs and that’s pathetic. Like they were not brave enough to ask a girl out in a real life. C’mon! Be careful when couchsurfing! :)x

      • That guy was lame at best. Lonely, lame, and yeah just a bit sleazy or potentially-rapey. The guys always have to do the work, though! If they’re the ones that have to be “brave” – maybe that’s the conditions that encourage this kind of shy or tired-of-girls-bullshit non-seduction sleazing. Look at the whole picture and all you can do apart from physically-protecting yourself from this situation AND any specific dodgy guys (learn a martial art, always a good idea)… is NOT be one of these girls that contributes to an anti-male culture by manipulating or otherwise frustrating men. I doubt you do, but lots of girls don’t take abuse of men seriously and many even think it’s their right to laugh at male frustration etc. That is what contributes to men who don’t know how to ask nicely or respect properly. It doesn’t necessarily apply to this Aussie guy, but who knows? I know if I want a woman to get with me, I can ask, but if more women were honest and not like little girls / playing games / hundreds of other forms of bullshit, then it’d be easier to give respect under 100% of circumstances. I’m a highly-self-controlled person, with high standards, so women think it excessive, what I expect of them, ethically. Right? The flipside of that, is males with low ethical standards who mirror that lack of respect. Think about karma and what it means, how it works in mass society, trend-following sheeple etc…

        Personally, I am introvert with an extrovert side, which takes a lot of energy to express. So I know that I can’t always be verbal and outgoing, but it depends on mood, and since it’s always the man who has to lead the dance, sometimes that means NO-ONE has any fun, which sucks. But why is it always up to the MAN? It really is like that. Whereas IF one can bypass that and show one’s intent physically, then – without it being rapey or abusive, I mean, instantly backing-off if told to – it can end up really nice for BOTH people. But still the responsibility of the man, one he doesn’t get any special reward for (unless orgasms are now exclusively male, rather than being something females can have multiple times and take advantage of the male whilst he did all the seduction work, too – NOT cool from a guy’s perspective as it’s hard work over time.
        Also, sometimes it’s more like the right words won’t come, but touching works really well, I mean IF the woman wants it etc and it gets to that stage regardless… good communication is good communication and comes in many forms. Dancing, making music, touching… maybe that guy thought he could use touch in a very non-acceptable way, but with non-rape intentions nonetheless. A bit like the gay guy dry humping in another post above, but not quite as extreme or ridiculous… probably felt pretty similar, though…

  • That is a very interesting post Agness. Me and Dale have been couchsurfing a lot so far but as a couple it’s completely different matter I guess, in fact we never had any unpleasant experiences.
    I did hear some similar stories to yours from other solo female travelers met in hostels.
    I guess if both host and surfer are in agreement and want the same thing than that’s fine, but using CS as a way to find free sex is a bit too much in my opinion.

    Will you use CS again in the future?

    • I agree, it’s a different story when a couple uses CS. Me and Cez never couchsurfed together. We were hosted a few times by our friends or fellow travel bloggers but we knew each other pretty well. Right now, I am not planning to do any CS as I’m working and travelling in China but I’m not saying no to CS in the future. I guess I am will more picky when it comes to selecting my prospective hosts, mostly female hosts. I’m with Cez right now so maybe we will try to couchsurf together but I’m not sure.

  • Ugh that leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. The Couchsurfing community can be a great place, but I completely stopped using it once a potential host wanted to know if my partner & I were going to have sex in the room. I just don’t need to be dealing with that nonsense when looking for a place to stay.

    I may come back to it someday because I have had a great experience with a Parisian family using it. But for now I’m sticking with Airbnb where I know what I’m getting and have a safety net.

    • Some people ask creepy questions, that’s true. I have never heard of Airbnb before. Is it safer than CS? Need to check it out soon.

    • To Kit

      I understand what he said at the moment seemed a little rude. Although, I do believe he should not have said it online I do understand why he did. Some couples who are hosted have sex in the room or area provided by their host. I guess he just wanted to know if there is any condom rappers or sheets he need to wash after the fact. Also, some people don’t want their couch surfer to do anything on their property. For that I completely understand. I just think when he said that you should have not taken it so personnel at that time.

    • Isn’t it true that AirBnB vets guests more than it does hosts, though? Is that safe for guests, really? I don’t use Facebook, personally, because FB is mind-controlling (proven fact, although it took 2 years for it to come out in the press after I noticed the effects). Narcissism-encouragement, etc. IF I don’t use Facebook, I don’t qualify for AirBnB, pretty much! As if Facebook is some sort of high-standards ID verification system… braindead logic and conformist as hell. Where’s the freedom to be a good person with standards that result in ethical behaviour – but just ‘weird’ or ‘different’ from the herd? It might mean ‘ahead’, even. What is a system of technology that punishes such people? Fascist!

      I saw people uploading a photo of their ID from their phone into the AirBnB system – I’d NEVER do that just to make a host feel better. But as soon as I arrived, they could sure see the very same ID in person, make a note on paper of the serial number of the ID, make a note of my DoB etc. Otherwise, if THEY aren’t going to trust me as much as a hotel does, then why should I trust them as much as I do a hotel?
      Just not be forced by dodgy (or PRISM-feeding) systems design, to share stuff I don’t need to nor feel comfortable doing. *I* get to control who can have my information, not faceless systems at AirBNB, plus the whole mass-surveillance thing is creepy as hell! The next Martin Luther King won’t be me, but IF I or anyone else DID want to be politically-active, HOW WOULD I BE ABLE TO SIMPLY STAY SOMEWHERE *ANONYMOUSLY* FOR MY *OWN* PROTECTION? Rather than sharing my location, intentions movements and place where I will be of my guard for 8 hours or so?
      Now do you realise why they spy on everyone 24/7? So there’s no way to mount effective opposition, politically, when they keep squeezing tighter and tighter and removing your rights more and more. Which if you look around, they ARE. Wake up!
      The results of which, will make worrying about CouchSurfing and AirBnB issues, look like worrying about the type of icing on a cake – a luxury. Fascism is coming. Fuelled by fear and the psychological effects of technology. Especially the divisive and alienating effects. Making us treat each other like objects, more and more… Unless we wake up, like YESTERDAY. One thing you can do is learn what security is and isn’t. Reject bad systems design that doesn’t make you secure, and abuses your privacy. Convenience isn’t king, it is a seductive abuser in the end… The evil powers that be squeeze you so you’re time-poor, and then pocket most of the efficiency-savings of technology themselves in the form of higher profits from saved labour costs and static prices. Look around! So, you find yourself with little time and needing convenience, and then they steal your privacy by lying to you that systems can’t be designed a different way. They CAN. You just have to stand up for it.

  • Great post Agness! I had always assumed this could be something that goes on but had no idea the extent of it. Two out of your five hosts! I’m with you on this, the travel is what you are there for and the host I would think is someone who also loves travel and is excited to show people their city. This just gives guys a bad name… again!
    Knowing this now I wonder if being a single guy and finding somewhere to couch surf is harder?

    • Thanks Ardun. The funny things is some hosts don’t even like travelling that much. They just need a buddy to have a beer with if you know what I mean :). Answering your question, I guess it would be much easier than you think.

  • I’ve never done couchsurfing but I was always wondering if this exact issue could be the case. And you now confirm my suspicions. I’m actually curious now how these hosts reacted to you turning them down? Did they accept it easily or did you have to insist that hell-no!-nothing-is-going-to-happen? And did you ever feel unsafe to stay overnight? I would hate to be in this situation, because some guys get really aggressive and agitated once a girl tells them off (even in a polite way).

    • I can see very interesting questions here. Firstly, nearly everyone reacted the same way which was taking it slowly with a bitter sweet face impression, then ignoring me the day after :):). I felt uncomfortable, but had no problem with sleeping at night.

      • I should say you are very courageous girl! I would probably feel scared to sleep there afterwards. But hey, whatever works. I’m glad someone is putting them back in their place. After all, girls who seek sex or agree on sex are setting wrong expectations from the rest of the travelers who just want a bed for the night…

  • I have to thank you for this Post Agness.. i just started my trip and i realise that i am some times very naive when it comes to trust people.
    I didn’t have any couchsurfing experiences yet (even though i am registered and i hosted some people in my London flat, but i’ve never been hosted).
    Honestly? i wouldn’t have thought about sex and couchsurfing being related this way. I’m just like you, even more now that i’ve had a quite unpleasant experience with a female traveller whom i was talking to and, let’s say, is everything i DONT want to be as a traveller. That said, your experience has opened my eyes a bit more. I will keep trusting people of course, but trying to be very careful on who i put my trust into. I hope you’ll have better experiences in the future :)

    • Kle, I don’t want you to stop using CS. Just please be more careful when checking guys’ profiles and try to talk to the person before you two meet in his place. I’m sorry to hear about your unpleasant CS experience with a female traveler. Hope you will have a blast with your next host x

      • oH..just to specify that my bad experience was not with CS…only a scam person who tried to get money from me..well at least i didn’t give in this time. Regarding the CS, i had a fantastic experience with the greek girl i hosted for 5 days. We are still in contact and she is a great person, so yeah it’s not all bad stuff :)

  • This is a really interesting post. I have heard about couchsurfing guests and hosts hooking up and I don’t really see anything wrong with it if both parties are willing and into it.

    It is no different than any other situation in the sense that all you need to do is to be clear about your intentions. If you show up at a host’s house and they suggest sex and you don’t want to you can simply say, “Sorry, I’m not interested in you in that way” or “I like to get to know people for a longer period of time before I sleep with them.” There is nothing wrong with that and any normal person would stop the line of questioning and leave you alone right there. If he doesn’t get the hint you might need to make it more obvious. If he really creeps you out, then just leave.

    I don’t understand this line though:

    “I am now thinking of how many girls may not have a strong personality to refuse…”

    It baffles me that girls would have sex with a stranger when they don’t want to, just because they are too polite to say no! Surely saying no and even leaving is less awkward than having sex with them? If he propositions you for sex that you don’t want and you go along with it without saying no, surely he is not to blame as he is not a mind reader.

    It is a guy’s responsibility to stop his advances if a girl tells him “no”, but it is also the girl’s responsibility to give that clear “no” in the first place so that there is no confusion.

    Anyway, if you really don’t want to be hassled you can state in your profile that you are strictly looking for a couchsurfing experience and nothing else. This will clear up any confusion before you even arrive and will probably weed out the people who are looking for a hookup.

    • I know what you are trying to say when pointing out that girls should clearly say NO to guys, but everyone is different. There are some shy and polite girls out there who might not be that confident to refuse. Here is a picture of a nice and friendly girl who comes to visit her host. The guy is very nice, shows her around and they have fun. Afterwards, the guy makes it clear he wants to have sex in return. The girl feels like she should do it as the guy was so hospitable and polite. Does she really want to have sex with him because they both “clicked” and they were obviously attracted to each other? No. It’s more about the lack of ability to refuse in some situations.

      • Nope, sorry I still don’t understand that behavior and I think that is totally insane. There are things that you do to be polite because someone has been a good host to you, such as offering to wash the dishes or giving them a small gift of thanks, but sex is not one of those things.
        If a girl is having sex with a stranger just because she feels like it would be rude not to, when she really doesn’t want to, then she has her own issues that have nothing to do with couchsurfing.

      • I agree with you and altogether strongly believe it happens every day. A girl, without a doubt has her own issues then, yet it’s still connected to coachsurfing. Not the idea, which is excellent, but the abuse of the system by some individuals.

    • Right on Kelly, nice to see someone actually having a sensible logic stance on this area around sexual negotiation. Not just regurgitating some paranoid irrational claptrap.

    • Hi Kelley,

      While I understand that your argument makes sense on an abstract, logical level, in practice it is a lot more nuanced. Some guys will straight up ask for sex, but sometimes it is a lot less simple to gauge someone’s intentions and to understand what you can and cannot say and do in a situation. I say this from personal experience. On a recent couch surfing trip, we found a host with nineteen positive references. We expected him to create a safe atmosphere in a place we barely knew. He was very nice and we felt comfortable around him. Our host ended up sexually abusing my friend. Substances and emotional manipulation were involved, and this created a situation in which we did not know what was going on until too late. We felt helpless and isolated, late at night in a foreign place. Our host was a straight male and my friend who he abused was also male. It’s not only girls, and you can’t expect these things. Before this experience, I would have imagined that getting out of there would be simple, but when you’re in a situation such as that, with someone who is very manipulative, there often don’t seem to be those options. I’m a very outspoken person, and in usual circumstances I would do everything in our power to get us out of there, but he created a situation in which we felt like we had absolutely no power. It’s not about politeness, it’s about feeling powerless. Both of us are very traumatized and have repeatedly asked ourselves “how could we have let this happen”- however, the issue that arises with this question as well as the “weak personality” argument you’re trying to refute is that both try to split the blame between the instigator and the person trying to defend against the instigator. Instead of asking “why didn’t the person who was sexually abused assert themselves enough”, the question should be “how could a couch surfing host try to instigate a situation such as this?”. I think it’s great that travelers and hosts can have a great time together, but when it turns sexual, it turns into a precedent that can severely fuck things up for travelers who do not have this intention at all.

      Safe travels :)
      Michaela

      • Hello Kelly and Michaela,

        …I am german, female and following this discussion with great interest… I am roughly 50 now and have travelled a lot through the world since i turned 18. Before couchsurfing & co…

        …Saying NO in a clear way is as much easier as older and mature you are. Being still very young it can be problematic especially if the host creates a comfortable surrounding at first glance. And a lot of people are easily able to do so. A lot of people are out there to recognize other peoples needs and wishes immediately in turn to manipulate them. They are called psychopaths by different grades. Unfortunately mainly men. And we are surrounded by them. I don’t want to create an atmosphere of fear or panic, but especially as a woman you have to be carefully. How you recognize them? They are intelligent, charming, easygoing, funny, embracing… until they see the first sings of emotional dependency. Being a few days/nights with someone, being invited to whatsoever normal activities (cinema, sports, drinks, dinner, nights out) by the host creates this band. Oh what a nice man… And if feelings of gratefulness start to appear you are in the trap… All human, but not the way how it is used or better abused from time to time. And don’t forget: You get what you pay for! What is cheap is nothing worth… You pay nothing for accommodation or food or drinks? – So far… Therefore i am not surprised that some hosts expecting another way of being payed…

        …In the CS-Profiles we can read a lot of positive comments about hosts and guests… If really something negative happens like sexual abuse – especially the victims prefer to keep silent. They feel ashamed about what happened and quite often guilty. Statistic says that in about 50% of all cases of sexual abuse the victim speaks NEVER to ANYBODY. The other 50% talk about what happened but in less then 20% of these cases it leeds to consequences to the offender… The reasons: No evidence, testimony against testimony, false or no identity of the offender, the victim doesn’t want to cooperate… Now, you are still wondering why there is nothing to be find on the CS website itself about such incidents?… Keep your eyes wide open! And use your common sense!

        And… What is quite interesting for me as a woman: Have you ever searched the sites of members from Eastern Europe for instance? Have you ever taken a closer look at the photographies of Russian women, as an example, in their profiles? You will be surprised… A lot of them are a truly invitation for a man: Posing, often lascivious, sparingly dressed… I am expecting such photographies on sites for other services like escort, dating or casual sex… Now, a lot of them love traveling and hanging out with foreigners in their home town. But not offering a bed as a host in return… A lot of expensive respectable dating web sites are more picky in selecting the profile images of their members… Frankly speaking: There are obviously women out there who are willing to pay with the currency sex in return for a bed? From that perspective in comparison CS is much cheaper than a professional dating agency… And as long there are such members as long other females will encounter that “conflict in interests” from time to time… I know not the original intension of CS…

        …I hope my comment was not to provocative but based on life experience, travel experience and chats with friends (amongst them some working for the police department…)… Life can still be great!

      • Hi Michaela,

        I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with CS. I am a journalist doing a story about this issue and would be interested in speaking to you about what happened, if you would feel comfortable. Could you get in touch with me? my email is isummerson [at] live. co. uk.
        Hope to hear from you,
        Isabelle

      • Hi, Lina B!

        I’m sure you watched Agness’s CS profile You can take a closer look on her pictures. May be, that can be a surprise for you, but many profiles of girls from Russia do look like that. (even if we speak about Tinder – a dating site – same thing: nice pictures, common girls, no lasciviousness). Not all russian girls are eager to sleep with foreigners who travel there. If a russian or slavic girl is eager to show around doesn’t mean at all she’s eager to have sex with you. And if you expect this – well, that’s the problem of your own.

        It’s a nasty thing that there’s such a stereotype about “Russian girls” or “Slavic girls” (that Agness mentioned in her post). It would be fair to say that this type of girl exists in every country (for example, just go out on Friday night in London and watch the manner of dressing and drinking (!!!) there). But that doesn’t mean at all that all The British behave like this and are like this! And we all should remember that.

        And actually, i think i can answer your question. Due to the Iron Curtain and Soviet dictatorship people didn’t have access to the culture of fashion and culture of behaving in different situations. Simply because they didn’t have an opportunity to dress up (as they had a total shortage of all kind of goods) or to go out to a restaurant, as there was a few of them and…here we’re getting to the point…common people were often blocked from entering there. Especially if it was in a hotel or something. But… Plenty of prostitutes there. They were let in and all the stuff knew, of course, who were they. And for the travelers it was not typical to meet common women who had no special intentions and weren’t agents or prostitutes. So, it depends on about what period of time you’re speaking about. Speaking about goods and isolation: when it all falls on you unexpectedly and you have access to all that stuff, you might look ridiculous (and apply evening make up and wear high heels during the day) until you learn how to use it.

        What is more interesting to me, if we speak about nowadays, is the attitude of foreigners who live and work there. My friend, who worked at PWC Russia once told me that a british guy who was an expat there once told that “Russian girls are needy” (what a disrespect and insolence). But as she fairly mentioned: may be he should have gone to normal bars or clubs with women who came there to have fun and to communicate and not to hook up a foreigner with money. But the point is that things he’s searching for are one night stand and casual sex. It’s not easy to find a normal girl who is eager to jump into your bed right the evening you met. Especially if you’re not handsome at all (and he was absolutely not and if we speak about sex, it matters a lot) and she’s not drunk too much. So, there is a very interesting thing. If you, guys, come here to find a one night stand, casual sex or “no strings attached” free sex, you will find people who can give that to you. But that doesn’t mean all women here are like that! That’s only what YOU looked for and found. So, don’t judge so far.

        Same thing about CS. It’s a pity there are women who use CS to find one night stands! As a consequence those women who just want to travel face very unpleasant things! As to what Agness wrote, i’m a new one on CS and actually i thought about such things and that’s a big hesitation for me whether to use CS or not. The same thing about judging. Men, who had sex with their CS guests expect all the rest to have similar goals, which is sad.

        But I absolutely agree with you that very rarely victims talk about sexual abuse. Very often they have no proof or alco in their blood (and here we got manipulations) or feel guilty or ashamed…

  • That was the first thing I thought of when I was first checking out couch surfing. I always wondered if I was being a bit paranoid, but apparently not! I always filter my search for “several people” and in their 30’s or above, as this often means a married couple. Never had a problem, and definitely wouldn’t want this! I am with you, I like to get to know a person first.

      • It is not at all safer to surf an older host, even a married one. If a man wants a new girl, it is not his wife that will make him stay away from it.