Personal Safety Tips
New people and new places present opportunities for adventure, but traveling can also be disorienting. To prepare you to make the best possible decisions for yourself on your trip, we’ve put together a few tips.
Do your homework
- Before meeting, look for hosts or surfers whose profiles are complete with a real name, clear photos, and detailed descriptions of themselves and, if applicable, their couches.
- When looking for an event or joining a Hangout, review the profiles of those attending and know the location, particularly if you’re in an unfamiliar area.
- Read references of hosts or travelers to get a sense of others’ experiences.
- What’s NOT there? Is there missing information or questions the member could answer for you that would help you get a better sense of who they are?
- Women travelers may prefer to book with female hosts, and vice versa.
- Make sure you understand the level of privacy a host is offering when surfing. Carefully read through My Home section on member profiles and be sure to ask questions about anything that’s unclear.
- Get to know potential Hosts or Surfers through our messaging system. Don’t give out your personal contact information until you’ve met. Keep Hangout communication within the Hangout application.
- Make sure you have a plan to communicate with friends, family and backup accommodation options once you arrive. Will you have your computer? Will your mobile phone work?
- Ask questions! Have conversations! You’ll know what to expect (and so will your Host/Surfer), and you’ll likely both be more at ease when you meet. Some things you may want to ask:
- How many people live in your home?
- Do you allow guests to use the kitchen?
- How many Surfers have you hosted (or how much have you Surfed)?
- Are there safety precautions I’ll need to take in the neighborhood or surrounding areas?
These initial conversations will tell you a lot. If anything about your interaction makes you uncomfortable, look for a different Host/Surfer.
During your host/surf experience
- Upon meeting, spend some time getting to know your Host or Surfer. Do you feel comfortable with them? Is everything as you expected? If you feel uneasy or something doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts and do what you need to do to be comfortable.
- Get to know the “rules” of the house – are there hours when it’s best to be quiet? How will you get in and out if you and your Host/Surfer have different schedules?
- If you feel uncomfortable for any reason with your Surfer/Host, address the situation politely and directly to see if you can find resolution.
- Maintain your faculties. Travel can be disorienting. Use of drugs and alcohol can further complicate this. Don’t leave your well-being in the hands of someone else.
- In any situation where you feel unsafe, threatened or in immediate danger, remove yourself and contact the local authorities – such as police or emergency services – right away. When you’re in a safe location, report the incident to our Trust and Safety team. All reports are confidential.