First of all, you might try to get a bed somewhere. Once you’re in a city it’s too late to write to anyone on couchsurfing and expect a response but you can post a desperate plea in the city group and leave your phone number – if you’re in luck you might just get an SMS a couple of hours later with an invite.
Failing that, if you’re feeling lucky you might want to head to the bars and see who you meet. Getting drunk with strangers gives you a chance of a free bed somewhere with someone.
Otherwise to find a safe place to sleep you may need to walk for a while and away from the centre into the richer neighbourhoods which have less street crime. True, there’ll be better policing but it’s also an unexpected tactic so you’ll often get away with it.
The best thing is to find somewhere unobserved. The less attention from police, drunks and maniacs the better. Parks can be okay but attract late night drinkers – choose somewhere behind bushes.
Graveyards can a serene choice, especially if there is a locked gate. Most are easy to climb into and then you’re guarded from the outside.
Cardboard boxes can be found outside supermarkets and make a great mattress. Then with some newspapers to line your clothes you’ll have a warm sleep.
In Europe you’ll want to avoid the brightly-lit places at night as that’s where the drunks and the violence is to be found. You can however find all-night cafes and a sympathetic waiter might let you stare into your coffee until morning.
Some bus and train stations stay open 24 hours but many close for a few hours in the middle of the night to discourage bums like you from hanging out. Be careful as Murphy’s Law dictates that bus and train stations are usually situated in the dodgiest part of town. A better bet is the local airport for a safe sleep.
If you don’t mind compromising your dignity most major towns have a shelter for the homeless – some kind of Salvation Army deal. Just ask your nearest policeman.