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Finding Female Travel Companions
What to do when you're no longer in the mood to travel solo

It happens. Sometimes you're fed up with your own company but you don't necessarily want to 'hook up' or travel with a guy. You just want some girlfriend travel. You need to look into female travel companions. 

Alone isn't always better... (Mike Baird via Flickr CC)

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.

Finding female travel companions

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:

  • Find someone on the best travel forums, such as Boots'nAll or Lonely Planet
  • TravBuddy also has a large thread dedicated to... travel buddies, of course
  • Put an ad in your local paper or a travel magazine
  • Try friendly specialist websites like the Thelma and Louise Club or 5W (Women Welcome Women World Wide)
  • Or travel matching outfits like Solotraveller.
  • If you're retired (or just plain mature), a good bet might be Connecting Solo Travel Network
  • And if you're young or taking a year off, a web search for 'travel companions' will provide hundreds of potential places to find a travel mate
  • If you decide to stick to organized travel, try searching for 'no single supplement' and you'll find plenty on offer
  • Some travel companies also host travel boards, like Tours4Fun
  • If you don't want a companion but still want information or a local contact at your destination, sign up for the free Her Mail
  • And of course, there's couch surfing and similar services, through which you can meet people anywhere in the world (using common sense and caution, naturally).

A few simple rules

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.

  • Make sure your first meeting is in a well-lit public place during the day. There's every probability your contact will be a woman seeking female travel companions, just like you, rather than a criminal or harasser posing as one. But be smart - be careful.
  • Take your cellphone to the meeting, and let someone know where you're going. It's probably perfectly safe, but we've all heard enough horror stories about Internet meetings to at least be cautious. Better yet, take a friend.
  • When you're searching online, be cautious with your profile. Fill in enough to show your compatibility and honesty, but not enough to enable anyone to find or identify you.
  • Make sure you provide enough details on your proposed trip - when you're going, where, and your style of travel. Otherwise you might end up weeding through hundreds of incompatible proposals!

Are you compatible?

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:

  • Travel style: whether she's comfortable backpacking or is more of a hotel junkie
  • Personal rhythm: if she's a morning person, a night person, if you need a siesta or you're on the road all day every day
  • Flexibility: are you easygoing and adventurous, while she's rigid and prepares an itinerary a week ahead
  • Budget: when your ideas of 'roughing it' don't quite match
  • Likes and dislike: what you like to do on the road - shopping versus sightseeing, lounging versus sports

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.

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