Hate flying solo? Hook-up with companions via social media
When it comes to vacationing, most seek the company of family or friends to have a good time. But hectic lifestyles and tough work schedules can ruin the best of plans. At this time, you could turn to your new best friend- the Internet- to help you meet travellers sharing similar interests from across the globe.
"Most of the time, I am busy working when my friends are travelling and vice versa. However, I always find people online who are heading to the same destination or will take the same route. Besides, meeting new travellers and hearing their stories is always exciting," says Mulchand Dedhia, who is the co-creator of Meter Down, India's first auto rickshaw magazine.
He has used Facebook and CouchSurfing to meet new people, and then travelled with them locally and on a solo backpacking trip to South-East Asia. Today, his network has grown to include people from across Europe, Canada, Africa and the US. He says, "I have travelled with Germans, Americans, Thai and Vietnamese, among others."
These days, there are a number of apps, travel forums and websites that cater to this growing audience. They provide you with options that range from generic ("I am travelling to Spain in December. Want to tag along?") to extremely specific ("I will be backpacking this weekend at 7 am to the summit of Mount Kalsubai. Do join.") And if that isn't your scene, a number of vacationers are also using popular social networks to zero in on a travel buddy.
"I love adventure travel and going to unexplored places. It was my need to find a like-minded traveller that coaxed me to search online. I am fortunate to have met wonderful people, who are equally enthusiastic about travelling," says Monish Chandan, a financial consultant, who has found travel companions using Facebook and Twitter as well as websites like indiahikes.in.
He has met people from the US, Belgium, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand, and helped them discover India by visiting places like Kolkata, Indore, Hyderabad and Goa.
For those looking to try this medium, experienced travellers have a word of advice. The most important thing- after the process of whetting potential candidates you meet online- is to ensure that you share similar interests. Design strategist and travel blogger Kaushal Karkhanis has gone to places as far and wide as Goa, Kerala, Brazil and Ecuador with people he met via websites and social networks.
He says, "Do your basic safety and social checks first, have clarity on mutual expectations and then just have a great time. All that matters is the vibe and the connection that you share."
Try the Internet to help you meet travellers sharing similar interests from across the globe (Photo: Shutterstock)
Make sure to...
* Whet potential candidates. There is no room for regrets on a trip.
* Do a quick background check on the person using Google, LinkedIn, or see if you have common friends.
* Regardless of your gender, make sure at least two-three close contacts know who you are travelling with, and your tentative itinerary.
Points of interest…
* While zeroing in on a travel buddy, make sure you have a lot in common with him/her.
* If you are in the same city, meet up. This will help you judge the person better. But if that isn't possible, at least have a few conversations on video chat or webcam.
* Talk about your budget. You need to be on the same page when it comes to accommodation, commute or even dining options.
* These are some options to help you get started
* Social networks like Facebook and Twitter can help hook you up with friends, friends of friends or acquaintances willing to find people sharing similar interests or heading to the same place you are.
* Try forums, like Thorn Tree by Lonely Planet or Travel Companions Forum by Travellers Point, to find like-minded individuals.
* Websites give you access to a large pool of companions from across the globe. For example, on TravBuddy, you can search for people going to a specific location, vacationing on certain dates or by their demographic. Trip Together claims to be "on a mission to boost your vacation plans with a lively pool of over 50,000 travel companions" while CouchSurfing is another popular option to first meet people, get comfortable and then explore new places with.
* Lastly, apps are an option. Travel Buddies, which is available on the App Store, is used in over 170 countries to find someone to go backpacking with, attend a convention or take a short break with. On the other hand, Backpackr connects you to fellow backpackers looking to travel the world. It can be downloaded from Google Play and the App Store.