It isn't always possible - or even advisable - to travel alone and at times female travel companions are needed and even welcome.
Perhaps you're looking for a travel partner because this is your first time out and you're nervous, or something has happened in your life that is painful, or you're concerned about managing travel loneliness, or you haven't figured out how to learn a language yet, or you're going to a country where women on their own raise eyebrows or attract unwanted male attention, or you're just a little leery of solo travel.
Lets face it - on occasion, there are some real advantages to having female travel companions: travel can be cheaper when you share, you'll be better able to deal with loneliness if it hits, you may feel safer and more secure, or you may simply be the gregarious type who wants someone to talk to. You may also be more comfortable in societies that frown on solo travel for women.
Equally, there are disadvantages to having female travel companions (or any travel partners, for that matter): you may not want to go to the same place at the same time, you may have different travel rhythms or lifestyles (you're an early bird, ready to hop on a bus at 6 a.m., while your travel companion doesn't emerge from deep sleep until lunch). Or, you may have different hopes or expectations.
Sometimes, traveling with others just happens.
I met Tim and Nica in a Harare guest house. In Blantyre, as I arrived I heard a weak voice calling my name - Tim was slouched over, pale with bilharzia. In Nairobi I stayed in a part of town usually off-limits to tourists, especially non-African ones - and who but Tim should come ambling down the hallway. In Asmara, Eritrea, I was sipping a coffee when a group of travelers mentioned the names Tim and Nica. I left a note in the Poste Restante and met up with them later that month.
We became friends - as people do when you keep tripping over them across a continent. Often we traveled together, usually for a few days. Since then we've met up in Bangkok and Costa Rica. Or was it Stockholm... Each time I saw them, it was a joy. But equally, I was always happy to be on my own again.
To find a travel partner you've tried your friends, your family, your fellow students, your work colleagues... and no one can travel when you want to, or no one wants to go where you're going... and you've decided that this time, you won't be going solo.
What to do?
Here are some suggested ways of finding female travel companions to share the road:
Please be careful. Anyone can post a note on a bulletin board, especially for female travel companions.
So if you're looking for a travel partner, a few simple rules of caution will help make sure you don't run into trouble.
You've made the decision to seek out female travel companions, you're got a few nibbles and potential partners, but now you have to narrow it down.
How do you decide? How do you take that final step that may bind you to another person for weeks or even months?
You could consider the following:
Possibly the most important compatibility test has to do with your reasons for travel. If these don't match, think carefully about your potential companion. If you're trying to find yourself and she's running away from an affair gone bad, your moods and expectations will differ wildly enough to make travel together somewhat risky.