Headline is too generic, but why is that? Do you feel like Couchsurfing is safe? Especially for a solo female traveler? Would you couch surf every country you go? For instance in Morocco? After having some troubles as 2 female travelers, I had the courage to use couchsurfing in Morocco on my own. Would you like to know why? One of my Short Travel Stories is coming: Is Couchsurfing Safe?
Short Travel Stories: Is Couchsurfing Safe?
I will give you some tips about how to use Couchsurfing safely at the end of the article, but now it’s time for another insane short travel story!
You know my trip to Morocco, I wrote about it here before. The beginning and the end of my Morocco trip are different adventures. Here is the beginning of my trip:
My flight is to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. And I am heading to the airport about 6-7pm in the evening. As I checked before, hostel prices are really high in Rabat. Almost everywhere else you can find a hostel for about 5 USDs, in Rabat this number starts from $ 17-18. The transport expense from the airport to the hostel, plus I am gonna stay just for sleeping cause my bus to Chefchaoen is in the afternoon. So a question appears in my mind that does it worth it?
So I’m searching hosts on Couchsurfing. But I am cautious. Because I have heard a very negative comments about Moroccan men. That’s why I’m trying to choose hosts who are expats. Obviously I have not much choice. I’m sending messages to 2-3 hosts and then I start to wait for an answer. However, the days pass, as the hostels are getting full, the bed charges are also rising … I do not hear from any of the hosts, so I decide to spend the night at Rabat Airport, listening to the advice of a friend who is also a traveler I get plenty of snacks and psychologically prepare myself to spend 12 hours at the airport.
As soon as I get to the airport, I switch on my phone and connect to the internet. Guess what? One of the hosts has just sent a message. Like a joke 🙂 After 2 weeks of waiting, as soon as I get to the town. Bang! I am not sure to go at first. Because I haven’t had a chance to search the profile, ask questions. He has been passive for 2 years or so.
After passing the passport control, the female airport staff ask me where I’m going. As soon as I say I will stay here, a big surprise expression appear on their faces. Just be careful. Anyway I look at the place where I am gonna stay for the night. But the airport is too small than I expected. So I was standing like a sore thumb with my white skin and my European style. When I check the flights, I see no night flight. It turns out that after the departing planes, I and the airport officials will stay there that night. I feel anxious.
In the meantime, we continue texting with the host. He is an American guy living in Morocco. His account was passive, cause he has lived in China for the last 2 years and now back in Rabat, again. Since he just moved and not available to host guests for the moment, he says sorry. But after hearing that I will stay at the airport, things has changed. He says to not expect much from him, either ways it will be more comfortable and secure than the airport according to him. I usually listen to the voice coming from my heart in such situations, and I trust that guy. Yeah, it’s a bit ridiculous, but it is what it is!
I take a taxi with his guidance. He’s recommending me not to pay more than 100 Dirham (the current rate is 10.5USD) and and he says give me my phone number to the taxi driver. So after bargaining a bit, I find a taxi for 100 instead of 200 Dirham. On the other hand, I am witnessing my American host speaking Arabic very skillfully on the phone with the driver. So in another language, two strangers are speaking about me. It’s a bit awkward. But I prefer not to listen to my mind.
Eventually we’re coming to the meeting point. It’s dark outside and the silhouette of my host appears from afar. Well, he was right about the house, there seems to be no cleaning at all. But I am in a safe place and I am grateful that I am with a gentle, helpful person. He is offering some beer, which is not difficult to find in Morocco but expensive. I am in a classical Moroccan house with a roof. We are chilling under the stars, talking about our life stories that inspire each other as we sip our beers.
I am tired after spending 12 hours on planes and in the airports and he is traveling to Spain in the morning. So he smokes some hash as an American living in Morocco, before falling asleep. He tells me that all of the Moroccan men are getting stoned.
He gives me his room despite my insistence that it’s not necessary. Indeed, thanks to this beautiful coincidence, instead of spending the night at the airport, I am staying at a classical Moroccan house, and I have met a sweet traveler. I also admire Nate, who is able to speak Arabic in a perfect way, because of his interest of this culture.
I leave the house with him in the morning and go to the city center. Since Chefchaoen bus is leaving at 3pm, I enjoy the cafes in the center of Rabat and visit some historical buildings.
What is Couchsurfing?
Couchsurfing, is an organization that brings hosts who are offering their couches or free rooms and travelers who have a small budget. Through this, the hosts who like to listen travel stories, want to break out the routine and meet new people from different cultures meet the travelers. It is a pleasure for travelers also who want to stay in a warm house after a while spending nights in tents, hostels or hotels.
The culture, the architecture and the smell of each country, can be found inside of the walls of a house. And through Couchsurfing it is possible to meet with locals, get sightseeing recommendations, eat local meals, sometimes to go out together.
Although we have had a few unpleasant experiences with a girlfriend in America, in general I can say I have very special memories in the end. Though the things we live in America are due to some male hosts who are totally use this organization just to meet new girls. So it’s a bit dicey, sometimes you feel like a princess, in another time you feel like running away.
How to find a host in Couchsurfing?
All you have to do is reach the right host! Read the references, maybe to stalk that on social media… And to try to communicate in an organic way. The most beautiful one is actually going to that host through a suggestion. When you find your host that way, you have peace in your mind when you enter their house.
Until today, I had 1 couchsurfing experience in Santa Barbara, 4 in San Francisco, 1 in Chiang Mai-Thailand, 1 in Yangon-Myanmar and 1 in Rabat-Morocco. Couchsurfing is the cure of short budgets.
By the way, you can also find opportunities to come together with travelers like you in the place you go for events or meetings, not just for accommodation. Or, like a photographer I met in San Francisco, you may have the opportunity to meet people who would like to collaborate with you. Keep in mind!
For other travel destinations: http://www.journalofayogini.com/kategori/travel-with-me
For yoga and wellnes posts: http://www.journalofayogini.com/kategori/yoga-wellness
Other types of accommodation for free? Check ‘Roam The Horizon‘s post out regarding House Sitter guide.