Couchsurfing 101 and How It Saved My Life: Vietnam Solo Travel

Two months ago, I successfully finished my very first solo travel outside the country and it still feels like a dream. My journey to Vietnam has been surreal–a mixture of enjoyment and sadness but an overall wonderful experience. 

The chaos, the coffee, the food, the super cheap beer and most of all the people I met along the way, all contributed to one hell of an experience! 

The start of the trip was not as smooth as the end though. I had a lot anxiety and worries about being alone in a foreign country and being a female at that. Even up to the point when I was already packed and ready to depart, my heart was still filled with negative emotions. 

What if something happens to me in Vietnam? What if I get lonely? 

Thanks to Couchsurfing though, my trip became the best it could ever have been. 

 

Asians represent! Liew from Malaysia, Linh from Vietnam, me, and Paolo from the Philippines πŸ™‚

 
If you’re a traveler you’ve probably heard of Couchsurfing, if not already an active member of it. But in case you are not aware of it yet, Couchsurfing is a community that aims to promote cultural appreciation and exchange by providing a platform for people all over the world to host, be hosted or simply meet travelers. 

This community can help you find a place to stay in the place you are going to for free. How awesome is that? πŸ‘πŸΌ

The way it works is pretty simple: you can post your travel date and destination with a description of your travel plans. Hosts from that area will be able to see your post and offer to host you during your stay. You can choose to accept or decline the offer based on certain factors-living situation being offered, distance of the host’s place to the places you plan to visit and of course, the host’s profile and references. 

 

An offer to host my entire stay in Vietnam (I declined because she lives a few hours from Hanoi)


You can also do it the other way around–by searching for people who can accept guests in the area you will visit and send them a request to stay instead. They can also accept or decline your request based on what the read or see in your profile. 

How my profile looks like as viewed through the mobile app πŸ™‚

A couchsurfing (CS) profile consists of your CS name, location, information about you and your travel personality. What’s interesting about the CS profile is that it delves more into why you’re on CS, what you can offer and what you wish to get out of it. 

Being a new member though, I decided not to accept any host offers and simply stay in a hostel in the city center. I did agree to meet with a few people though for coffee, dinner, beer and tours. This way I do not have to worry much about my safety and yet be able to meet fellow travelers and locals. 

 

Paolo, a Filipino as well, my very first CS friend


 

Drinking local beer with our rickshaw tour guide

  

Out of several people I agreed to meet up with in Vietnam, I was able to fulfill the promise for the following: 

  
   
   

Although I immensely enjoyed alone time in Vietnam, I would have probably felt loneliness if not for the people I have met through Couchsurfing. 

It was definitely not a waste of time signing up and actually using the app. I would definitely make use of it again in my next travels abroad and I encourage other travelers to do so, too. Hopefully next time I will have enough courage and trust to be hosted.  

  
Until the next trip, 

CLAIRE

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