How’s CouchSurfing for a Woman Traveling Alone in Turkey?

I’m traveling alone in Turkey for a while and I decided to try CouchSurfing here, being hosted by guys. This is what happened.

©Leidimara Caetano

Many people say that Turkey can be a dangerous place for women traveling alone. In fact, it is true! Like everywhere in the world. I could list here several pieces of research about dangerous countries for women. However, most of them differ by using different indicators. Therefore I would like to use only my personal and real experience to talk about Turkey.

I’ve been traveling alone for more than two years now, in different countries, cities, and villages. I’ve always refused to see myself as less capable than a man, but I have to say that at times I’ve wondered about my safety as a woman and not just a human. We already know that women face struggles more than men during a solo trip.

Considering my own experiences and exchanging experiences with several people I met, I decided to “surf” for the first time in Turkey. Trying the seemingly safest option on CouchSurfing, I contacted female hosts. Unsuccessfully, I decided to post my travel plans for the cities I would be traveling to on the platform and instantly I received several offers for accommodation and meet-ups. All offers from men.

First I felt very lucky. Then I started feeling irritated. I noticed that in most of the offers the intention was an attempt to flirt. I went back to my profile and re-evaluated my photos. I absolutely didn’t want to look attractive, so I changed the photo, and to make my intentions clear, I’ve written very clearly that “I do NOT use CouchSurfing as a dating app”.

Checking all those hosts I found good profiles with good references. So far I’ve had nine experiences with hosts from CouchSurfing in the South and East of Turkey and all have been positive. I felt safe with my hosts! However, what I was looking for? Not someone offering to take me for dinner. Sometimes the offer sounds too good to be true and from those, I instinctively run away.

In my strategy to find hosts on Couchsurfing, wherever I go, I carefully check the profiles and all references from previous surfers. It works not only for Turkey or countries that are known to be dangerous for the solo traveler. Caution should be the same in countries with high levels of safety.

Another strategy is trying to imagine every possible scenario to premeditate the troubles I might face ahead and then create a plan B. I learned it from the Stoic exercise “Premeditatio Malorum” which, in sum, helps me to be ready to face problems in case something does not go on the way I planned. It gives me the peace of mind to sort things out before it goes wrong.

Recognizing and accepting what could happen in different scenarios remove the curtain of ignorance, then the fear because “Fear tends to come from ignorance”. This sentence from Ruthus is one of my favorite. And maybe it explains why I have done things that people say are necessary a lot of courage to do.

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Hi! I am an ordinary person who decided to become a citizen of the world and live before die. /Memento Mori/

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Leidimara Caetano

Leidimara Caetano

Hi! I am an ordinary person who decided to become a citizen of the world and live before die. /Memento Mori/

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