Couchsurfing Safety
The Facts:
In general, Couchsurfing is very safe. There have been, as of the end of 2011, nearly 650,000,000 positive experiences on the site. Translating this into a percentage of positive CouchSurfing experiences comes out to about 99.6% This is a high a percentage of people who have found that Couchsurfing is not only safe, but fun! On my travels I have stayed at CouchSurfers' houses for over 150 nights so far and have found CouchSurfing to be safe. In fact, I have yet to have an experience on CouchSurfing that is less than wonderful. You have already heard about the first two steps in Couchsurfing's safety system: verification and references. (Here is a in-depth look at Couchsurfing safety)


Couchsurfing vouching


The final step is called “Vouching” and is a bit more complicated. The way the vouch system works is a few trusted individuals known personally to CouchSurfing were given the power to vouch for other surfers, in effect staking their reputation on the guarantee that that person was safe to CouchSurf with. When a person accumulates three vouches, they are then allowed to vouch for others. In this way, a strong web of trust works its way through the community making CouchSurfing a safer activity.
Using the Tools:
By looking at whether a user has gotten verified, references, and/or vouches, you can gain a good idea of their trustworthiness, but make sure to also use common sense. If you feel like something is off, trust your gut! If the worst should happen and you do have a negative Couchsurfing experience, make sure to leave a negative reference and report the person. This will allow others to steer clear in the future.


Credit: The Odyssey Expedition


What now? Invasions and Collectives
If you have done some Couchsurfing and if you like you want to get more involved, there are lots of great ways to participate and get back. From time to time people will organize larger events involving Couchsurfing. Invasions are a week or weekend when dozens or hundreds of people all descend on one city and Couchsurf there. Lots of events and activities are planned and there's the opportunity to meet tons of people. A more long-term event is called a collective, which are organized every once in a while to rethink and talk about the ideals and missions of Couchsurfing. People will set up a community for several months, some staying the whole time and others only for a few days, while living, cooking, talking, and having fun together. Both invasions and collectives are great ways to deepen your couch surfing experience give back to this great community, and learn about cheap world travel!
Update as of December 2011:
The day after I wrote this launched a new feature called the Activities Search.  It allows people to post what activities they are doing and when, including a location on the map feature of the site. Other surfers who are looking for things to do can search by location, activity type, and keywords to try to find something fun to do, all while meeting new friends! While still in beta testing, this looks to be a great new way to meet new Couchsurfers and get involved with the CS (a common term for Couchsurfing on the site and in real-life groups) community. I plan on testing it out as soon as I get the chance and will make sure to report back here as to what I find out


Go travel now!


Now Go Surf Some Couches!

By now you are well set up for your Couchsurfing adventures! Get packed for your trip and then gomeet new people, senior places, do new things, enjoy life, and travel the world! There are over 2 million Couchsurfers on, meaning you have limitless opportunity and diversity to explore.  You can participate at whatever level is comfortable for you, from meeting up for coffee and a drink to becoming an regional ambassador for the site. Your adventure awaits! Stay safe, have fun and start changing the world, one couch at a time!