Recent news reports about an American volunteer being bashed to death in Nepal by her Couchsurfing host have solo travelers — particularly women — worrying about their future plans. The 27-year-old teacher from Austin, Texas was killed for her iPhone and some money she’d taken out of an ATM.
Many people have also brought up reports of an Italian man who raped a 16-year-old girl who was Couchsurfing, and possibly other people. Both cases are, of course, awful and are, from the victim’s perspective, clearly the result of running into the wrong person at the wrong time.
While there is always some risk involved when traveling, this is not the only safety issue we can control. Meeting with strangers you’ve encountered on social networks is the primary risk worth noting here, and there are lots of things you can do to minimize that risk and meet somewhat more safely.