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SAFETY FIRST

Friday, August 02, 2013

As far as cheap travel goes, Couchsurfing is perhaps one of the best ideas. But, the prospect of bunking with a stranger in a strange land sounds a bit scary, doesn’t it? That’s why Dev Goswami tells you what you should keep in mind to ensure that you have a safe experience

As far as ideas go, Couchsurfing is a good one; especially when it comes to travel and avoiding all the hassles and costs that go into booking hotel rooms. Not only is Couchsurfing a cheaper alternative, it also ensures that you get to stay with a local person — a much better option compared to hiring a tour guide. However, on the flipside, you’re going to be staying with someone who’s a complete stranger and who you’ve only connected with over the internet (in most cases). So, what do you do? Do you trash the idea? Do you go ahead even if you have some reservations? Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Interestingly, Couchsurfing isn’t a universal term; it originated from the website www.couchsurfing.org, so, unless you have a personal recommendation, stick to this website as far as possible.
  • When it comes to accepting a request or choosing a host for your travels, trust your instincts — if you have a nagging doubt regarding a particular profile or person, move on to the next option.
  • The Couchsurfing website provides profiles that will come with reviews and feedback by previous guests. Read all of them as it will give you a complete idea of what the person is like.
  • No matter how trustworthy you deem a host, always have a backup plan. Make sure you know someone else you can contact in the city/country and have a plan at hand to get out of there in case things go wrong. The latter might seem extreme, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Get personal experiences from friends and family. If they’ve ever used the service and if you’re planning to go to the same location, make sure you keep their inputs in mind.
  • Pay attention to detail. From safety tips to how to read a person’s profile, the website has everything noted down in great detail. Do not miss out on it; as it is sure to go a long way in making your experience simpler, easier and better.
  • If you use Couchsurfing, leave your feedback so that other travellers can utilise it to plan their travel. Be upfront and honest and in case of a really negative report or safety concerns, lodge a confidential report on the website.
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