This is part three in a five-part series on couchsurfing by Cherie Foo.
You are now getting your Couchsurfing requests accepted, and if you are a newbie to Couchsurfing, this will most likely prove to be simultaneously exciting and terrifying!
The next step for you is to correspond with your host and to check him/her out, to make sure that you will be in good hands.
This article is written for female surfers, but guys, do not get all cocky and think that you have nothing to worry about! I once met a male surfer who told me about his first time surfing, when he stayed with an older, also male host – this host hit on him and tried to bed him.
Although the likelihood of male surfers running into tricky situations is lower than that of female surfers, it could still happen, so make sure you always have a back-up plan.
Alright, for the ladies! If you managed to get a female host, you should be feeling pretty happy. But sometimes you can’t, and you have no choice but to stay with a guy instead.
Here are some tips on how to evaluate his profile and communicate to him nicely but in no uncertain terms that you are not interested in any side action:
1) Look at his pictures and profile description
Look out for people whose pictures and profile description indicate that they like partying and having a good time.
Now don’t get me wrong, partying is awesome, but if your host has ten pictures on his profile and out of these ten, nine of them were taken in a club/bar setting where he has his hands draped all over intoxicated-looking women, then it probably means that you should be careful.
2) Look at his testimonials
Check if he has any negative testimonials, but even if he does not, don’t take that to mean that he is certifiably squeaky clean and legitimate, because some surfers who have been treated inappropriately may not have the guts to actually leave their host a negative testimonial.
I generally also take note of how many of my host’s testimonials are from ladies and how many are from men. If all his testimonials are from women who speak about how he showed them a “really fun time”, complete with suggestive winky emoticon and all, again, it probably means that you should be careful.
3) Check out his gender preference
Other than looking at the gender ratio on your host’s testimonials, also check out his gender preference, where he can state if he prefers to host women, men, or if he has no preference.
4) Pay attention to how he speaks with you
You and your host will be communicating about your stay at his place before you actually arrive, so just nope the f*ck out of any plans you guys might have made, if he says anything even mildly creepy or suggestive.
Don’t worry about being paranoid – your safety is of paramount importance here.
5) Thanks for being decent!
If he passes all the above tests, this one is the ultimate. Tell him that he sounds like a really decent guy and you’re glad that you found a host like him, because in the past, you have had to deal with some really sleazy guys (get creative here – make up stories involving pepper spray, bloody noses, whatever, as long as it sounds like you can handle your own and you won’t go down without a fight.)
If he’s the real deal, he will sympathize with you, and if he’s not, he will probably decide that you’re not worth the trouble and make up some excuse to tell you that he can’t host you after all.
So go ahead and screen all your potential hosts carefully, and don’t forget to check back next week for more tips on meeting up with your host!