Read Their Profile
Before you agree to meet someone, scrutinise his/her profile and the references that other travellers have given to the person. Be wary if there is even one negative reference. Send a message to whoever wrote it to find out more.
Send messages to a few travellers who have previously written references for the person you are about to meet to find out more about their experiences.
Get To Know Them First
Start a correspondence with the person you intend to meet to get to know him/her better before meeting.
Get Their Contact
Ask the person for his or her mobile number.
Meet the person in an open public space, such as a train station or a cafe, especially if you are travelling alone.
Tell Your Friends
Inform a few friends about your whereabouts in case of an emergency.
Do not hesitate to write a negative reference or report someone who behaves inappropriately with you. This way, future couchsurfers can avoid being caught in a similar situation.
Read through the "Recognising and Reporting Abuse" page on couchsurfing.org. It provides examples of which messages, profiles and posts are considered abusive and which are not.
For instance, those who ask surfers for money in exchange for their hospitality, or send messages that solicit sex, should be reported.
This article was first published on September 8, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.