Tips for solo women

[[]] is an independent wiki with information for people who are actively exchanging hospitality.
Feel free to change and improve the feel of the text.

Overall, women who are traveling alone and who are CouchSurfing don't have to expect problems. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to take some things into consideration and to be aware of what to do in the unlikely event problems do arise, or how to prevent problems. Here are some tips for women traveling/hosting alone. Obviously, it might be useful for men as well.

Read all general tips. All of these apply to you too!


Hosting Alone

  • Don't accept any couch request coming by phone, by SMS or by your private mailbox. You must always have the possibility to check the CS profile of your future guest, in order to know if he/she has no negative references and if he/she is a new member or not.
  • We suggest you to accept only profiles of those who already have some positive references from women he/she has received or where he/she has couchsurfed. We suggest you to not accept to host a man whose profile doesn't have any references, or if he has never hosted or been hosted by women.
  • If you host, you have to consider that your guest might not have the same opinion about hygienic aspects. Be tolerant of how they are, and if you have to make some rules at your flat, don't hesitate to tell them upon their arrival.
  • If you receive a couch request from a man, it is important to check if his profile says that he only accepts to host "Female", instead of "Any". It is a very suspicious aspect.
  • We suggest you not to put your real name on your profile, especially your family name, because one can then easily find your phone number in the public phone book. You have the possibility to put your username on your profile: to go "Edit Profile", then on the "Privacy" page, put "Hide my name, use my User Name to identify me".

Couchsurfing Alone

  • Be smart when picking a host! Only stay with CouchSurfers who have strong references. Read ALL references on a page (even if they have a lot!) - what their friends and references have written about them. Consider emailing the prior surfers. Did previous hosts/surfers have positive or negative experiences with this person? Do they know your potential host face-to-face, or only through chat? Is this Surfer's profile filled out well? Read about the person who Vouched for them. If there are no CouchSurfers that you think you would feel safe with in the city you're visiting, consider staying at a hostel. Be extra careful when choosing a single male as a host. Often CouchSurfers are friendly and respectful, but you should still do your research. Does he have a lot of female friends? Is he vouched for? Verified? Has he hosted other single women? Have they left positive references?
  • Consider making private your msn/AIM/personal email address so that you only give it out to CouchSurfers you want to communicate with. Remember, depending on your profile settings, even non-couchsurfers can have access to this information if you post it.
  • When CouchSurfing, have a back-up plan. Have addresses and phone numbers of a hostel in the surrounding area, regardless. Know the number of a local taxi. Sometimes the person you have planned to stay with has an emergency and suddenly cannot host you, or you find you need to leave. If necessary, have a reservation. You can always cancel it.
  • Do not be afraid to leave a host! If you are not having a positive experience, leave! Trust your instincts - don't be afraid to offend a host. Your safety is worth more. Have a look to the special hints: the "what if" section for more hints about what to do in this situation. If you encountered some problems, it is very important to leave a clear and factual reference.

Traveling Alone

In many developing countries (and even in 'developed' countries), the relations between men and women are variable. In some places, women may have different rights than men, and a woman traveling by herself can be a foreign idea to the locals. They may be considered vulnerable. On CouchSurfing, we seek to break down barriers and treat no person as "inferior". However, safety is always a concern, for anyone. It is important for both men and women to respect local customs without getting taken advantage of. Be able to enjoy yourself; if you feel uncomfortable, exude confidence and take steps to change the situation. Below are some tips to help avoid bad situations.

  • Be wary of announcing that you are traveling alone. Traveling alone as a woman is an experience to be proud of, but sometimes you need to exercise caution in announcing that. Tell people at home where you will be and when you are in a safe place. Be very careful of telling people on your journey that you are alone. Say you are meeting family or a close friend at the next stop, or later that evening, if you do not know them well enough to know their intentions. Talk about the people you've met along the way, and the wonderful CouchSurfers you've stayed with that you still email daily.
  • Walk firmly and strongly, even when confused about your location. If you are lost, find a café, restaurant or safe place you can enter to figure out where you are. Do not open up a map in the middle of the street or along the sidewalk/pavement. Someone looking to take advantage of you in any way will notice a lack of confidence and disorientation.
  • Find other companions. Couples, groups of travelers and other women can be excellent allies if you're in trouble. Don't be afraid to ask someone for help if you feel your safety is at risk.
  • Dress appropriately for the environment you're traveling in. Be mindful and respectful of the individuals whose countries you're traveling through. If the women traditionally wear long skirts, do not wear your halter top and short shorts. Educate yourself on local customs and adapt to the best of your ability. You're less likely to get unwanted attention - and probably more respect from locals - by respecting their culture, even if it's different from yours. Remember that you are in their domain so it's only decent that you try to adopt to whatever is the norm there, rather than impose your own on them. You will stand out if you did!
  • Use your head. If you wouldn't do something at home, don't do it in a foreign country. You wouldn't sleep with your door unlocked or walk down a dark alleyway at home, so why risk it when you're traveling?
  • One Idea: Marriage isn't all that bad. Wear a conspicuous band or ring on your ring finger (left in Western countries).
  • Protect your belongings. Don't flash large amounts of money or jewelry. Carry your wallet and valuables secretively so they can't be easily grabbed from you.
  • Stay around larger groups of people. Stick to major streets. Avoid empty alleyways and side streets.
  • Look at maps of the city before you get off of your transport. What does the route from the train station to the hostel look like? Know the names of main streets. Where are the police stations located? If you have to check your map, go to a public place where no one can see you obviously looking at your map (like a library, café or restaurant). Don't call attention to yourself!!
  • Take a Self-Defense class. They don't cost a lot of money, and will teach you lessons you will carry with you for a long time. Many universities offer them for free or at discount rates. (If you took a course a long time ago, take another one. It's good to be reminded of what you have already learned!)
  • Consider buying a metal whistle. We do not recommend that you carry mace or personal weapons. These can be used against you!
  • Embarrass your harasser. If someone is constantly accosting you, or seems potentially threatening, draw attention. Talk loudly. Shout. Laugh and scream. Do something to draw public attention to the person's inappropriate behavior.
  • Leave! Don't be afraid to walk away from a bad situation or stop traveling with a companion who is negatively affecting your experience. If something makes you angry, remember: you don't live there, you can leave anytime, and you'll never have to deal with this again! Get out of there!
  • Trust your instincts. Consider where you are and who is around. Don't leave yourself isolated with a stranger. Listen to your gut instinct. You can't simply trust anyone!
  • Get roaming on your mobile phone or get it unlocked to take local SIM cards. Put in emergency contacts including host/insurance. Local hospital, police, hostel phone numbers are published in the Lonely Planet guides

Use these suggestions, but don't be too uptight about things. For instance, in Europe there are many girls who hitchhike on their own, in 2006, without too many problems whereas this might not be a good idea in some other countries. The worst time to hitchhike is a Friday or Saturday night - when the driver starts breathing heavily its time to get out! Good vehicles to hitch in are local delivery trucks that don't stop too often - they can't go too far and you'll see local sights.

From your CouchSurfing experiences you (will) learn that there are a lot of good people out there - everywhere. It is important to remember that couchsurfing provides a framework and tools to help you decide who you want to interact with, so please use them and also use your head and your instincts!!

Useful Groups for Women





Means of Traveling