Not all solo travellers travel alone by choice. I’ve talked to enough people and received enough emails by now to realize that although a lot of people make the decision to travel solo at some point, most would still like company, at least some of the time.

A couple of months ago I wrote about what to look for when trying to pick the right travel companion. Today I’ll talk about “where” you can go look for possible travel partners. Don’t worry, you won’t even have to get up as all these places are accessible from your computer or smartphone.

Finding travel buddies in the digital age

From finding somebody to have coffee with at your destination, to a local giving you an afternoon tour of their city, to someone you can join for an entire trip, here are 11 ways to find travel buddies online, through apps, websites, and social media.

(Disclaimer: Except where mentioned, I haven’t tried these apps or websites myself.)

My friend Lisa lives in Paris (but that's not why I like her!)

I met my friend Lisa 13 years ago through a now defunct website called VirtualTourist.

Apps for finding travel buddies

Ventoura

Ventoura is a free app that helps you connect with other travellers as well as locals at your destination.

After downloading the app, enter your itinerary to find other travellers who will be at the same place at the same time. Start chatting with them before you leave on your trip and arrange to meet and share some activities at the destination.

You can also connect with locals in your destination who have designed a tour or activity to get you off the tourist trail and experience things you may not find in the guidebooks. There is a fee for this though, determined by your local guide.

Conversely, you can sign up to be a guide in your own city, allowing you to make a little cash while meeting fellow travellers.

The website showcases some featured locals to give you an idea of what to expect. They have some good travel articles as well.

Travello

Travello is a free app which bills itself as “a social network for travellers”. Its main goal is to help you meet other travellers with similar interests who are near you, whether you’re currently travelling or not.

Start by building a profile on the app, then connecting your Instagram account and inviting your Facebook friends. Then add your trip itinerary to see who will be there at the same time. Filter the results by age, gender, nationality or traveller type, and message people directly in the app. You are also invited to post your own photos, questions, or tips.

There are special interest groups (such as solo travellers, female travellers, travel, photographers, etc.) that you can join to interact with their members. In addition, an “explore” tab gives you access to location-based travel deals, nearby meetups, and free WiFi spots.

Their latest feature is an interactive travel map showing things to do, accommodation, and more.

Use Travello app to find travel buddies

From the homepage of Travello.com / Image courtesy of Travello.

The feeling I get from looking at this website is that it’s mostly aimed at a young crowd, but there are no restrictions. If more older people join then we can create our own community of older solo folks!

Websites for finding travel buddies

Not everyone has a smartphone, so here are more options that only require access to the web.

Trip Together

TripTogether is a free social platform (both an app and a website) built on top of a huge database of over a million registered travellers. It presents a simple way to find people to travel with, or just local people to meet up with at your destination.

Sign up to create your profile, and search for your perfect travel buddy. You can filter the results by age, gender, destination and travel dates. Common interests are highlighted. Once you find someone you like, you can simply send them a message through the system and take it from there.

The basic version is free, but upgrading to a paid membership allows your profile to rank higher in the search results.

Trip Giraffe

Trip Giraffe lets you create a trip and wait for someone to join up, or find an existing one that somebody else created. You can also find other travellers to meet up with at home or abroad.

A typical trip listing includes the destination, dates, style of travel (backpacking, city break, beach, other), budget, gender of companion sought, and whether the room will be shared or not. Of course you’ll see the age, gender, and photo of the poster.

The site also features a blog section where travellers can contribute tips and stories.

Travel Sisters

TravelSisters is a brand new female-only travel app that lets you connect to other female travellers around the world. At the moment, it exists as a web app (usable in any browser) with plans to develop it as a phone app in the future. Their mission is to empower women globally to safely explore the world on their own, and to give back to places damaged by tourism. (They give part of their profits to charities.)

Once again you need to build a profile, including your travel interests and travel style. You’re even invited to get verified for added safety. The app presents you with other profiles that match yours, and you can send them “friend requests”. Once someone accepts your request, you can then communicate with her. Of course you’re always free to search the entire database using filters such as distance, interests, etc.

You can also create “events”, either an entire trip or a meetup, and invite others to join. Or you can ask to join an existing event.

5W: Women Welcome Women WorldWide

The name says it all, and 5W has been around since 1984, if you can believe it! It started in the UK, and not surprisingly, it seems to attract a somewhat older crowd.

From the homepage of Women Welcome Welcome WorldWide / Image courtesy of 5W.

The goal of this non-profit organization is to establish a network of women all over the world who can welcome each other, offer hospitality, guidance, and companionship to foster friendship and understanding around the world.

I can’t believe I haven’t heard about them before. They sound like a combination of Servas and Couchsurfing blended together!

You have to fill out an application form in order to receive the member list. You then get in touch with members in the cities and countries that interest you.

Besides the one-on-one meetings, you can attend events such as “gatherings” or smaller less formal get-togethers where several members and visitors in a certain area agree to meet.

Global Greeter Network

The Global Greeter Network is a non-profit organization that provides a platform for cities around the world to start their own greeter program. Currently, over 150 cities are participating, offering free personal walking tours given by volunteers. These people are passionate about their city and love to help visitors discover it.

I tried it in Brussels and quite enjoyed it. You need to fill up a form with your dates and interests and they will match you with a volunteer. This process can take a few weeks, so you need to plan in advance.

You will be told where to meet your guide/new friend and walking tours typically last two to three hours. No money changes hands, but you’re expected to pay for your own drinks or food (if any) along the way.

Other cities also run their own volunteer walks, like Dublin with its City of a Thousand Welcomes program.

...with Freddy (from Brussels Greeters)

Freddy (from Brussels Greeters) and I spent a few hours wandering around Brussels and having coffee (and beer!)

Travel Forums

You can still connect with other travellers the old fashion way, through travel forums. Here are a couple I’m familiar with:

Lonely Planet Thorn Tree

Thorn Tree is probably the best and largest collection of travel forums out there. You can expect responses to most queries within a few hours.

There is a Travel Companions forum under the Travel buddies & for sale category. The Interests category also has tons of special interest forums including Older Travellers and Travellers with disabilities.

CSTN Google group

The Connecting Solo Travel Network Google group is all about single and solo travel. Post and reply to messages relating to single-friendly travel deals, travel companion ads, advice sharing, and hospitality exchanges.

You have to ask to join, but unless you’re a spammer, you’ll get in. (I know this because I’m the moderator – I took over the group from the original owner when she retired!) The group has over 1900 active members, mostly older solo travellers. Many of the requests for companions are about finding someone to share a room with on a tour, or a cabin on a cruise.

Using social media to find travel buddies

Using social media to meet people doesn’t require any downloads, applications or verifications. If you’re active on either Facebook or Twitter, you can meet other travellers that way too!

Facebook groups

Several Facebook groups are aimed at solo travellers including several for solo women. Here are some groups I have joined:

Twitter

If you’re active on Twitter and follow people in the destinations where you want to travel, engage with them, and let them know how excited you are to visit their hometown, you may be invited to meet up!

Meeting travel buddies on Twitter

I met Tiffany for lunch  in Halifax after “meeting” her on Twitter!

This has happened to me a couple of times already. Even if you just meet that person for lunch or an afternoon walk, you not only get company but probably some insider tips as well. You may even be put in touch with some other people in town.

Alternatively, if you want instant travel companions, you could join an organized tour. TourRadar is a platform that lets you search and compare thousands of multi-day tours from 600+ carefully screened operators, while guaranteeing lowest prices.

(Note: this post contains an affiliate link.)

If you’ve tried some of these apps or sites, please let us know what you think in the comments. Or if you know of other apps, websites, or groups that help you meet people abroad, let us know as well.


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