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How do people find a travel partner or buddies to go travelling with? This is something I find solo travellers ask a lot.
Well, I want to answer those questions for you today.
Travelling is getting more and more popular by the year. And yet somehow many people still end up travelling alone.
I’ve been there. For years I wanted to visit new places overseas but I had nobody to go with. Friends always said “yes, let’s do it” but never helped me put the plan into action. I missed out on about 3 years of places I wanted to visit all because I was waiting for someone to come along. But they never did.
Fast forward to 2015, I was fed up and just took the leap. I went travelling solo on the other side of the world! Sometimes I wanted a buddy to go travelling with and other times I was happy just being on my own.
Besides, they say you are your own best travel partner.
Why do people want buddies to go travelling with?
- Safety – As a solo female for the first few years of my travels, Safety was a huge concern. As the old saying goes, “there’s safety in numbers”. By travelling with another person, you will likely have each other’s backs. If you get injured or sick they can get you some help. If you get lost or run into trouble, you can work as a team to come up with a solution. Two heads are better than one.
Safety should always be taken seriously when travelling to a new destination.
- Company – If you are an extrovert, it’s definitely more comforting to spend your time with other people. It’s a natural desire to socialise and be with others, especially when somewhere unfamiliar. Not many people enjoy being alone for long periods of time so it’s understandable to want to find a travel partner to explore with.
- Share memories with – Even if you do enjoy spending some time alone, there is just nothing quite like making memories with other people. It can get tiring talking about things you did that nobody else experienced. Plus it can bring you closer with the people you travelled to far off lands with.
- Take better photos – Ok, so yes you could travel with a tripod and a timer, but photos taken by friends are normally easier to create. People are easy to direct and normally don’t mind taking a few to find that perfect picture. They can usually get that difficult angle you just can’t recreate on your own.
- It can be cheaper – When you consider how many accommodations and trip features are quoted as “2-people sharing” it can be very expensive as a solo traveller. By having buddies to go travelling with you can often share the costs of many expenses on your trip.
Join a tour company
When you’re unable to find a friend to travel with, you could always join a guided tour to find your travel partner! These tours can vary in length, are suitable for solo travellers as well as groups and are usually pre-planned itineraries. This can take the stress out of planning the trip all on your own and give you more time to enjoy travelling and getting to know your new travel buddies.
Here is a list of some popular tour companies I love that are suitable for solo travellers:
- Contiki – Often hold tours for people aged 18-35. Many of these young travellers become friends with the other people in their tour group as it is a company that bases their culture heavily on partying, socialising and drinking.
- G Adventures – Focuses on small group tours so it’s easier to get to know each of the people in your group. G Tours believes that if too many people take part in any one tour, the guides will be too stretched and unable to offer a personal and full experience to the guests.
- Intrepid Travel – Often specialises in overland tours and a lot of driving. A great feature they have is that once you have started paying for your trip and have your dates secured, you have access to the group chat of other travellers who also book on your dates. This is a great way to virtually meet others that you will probably be spending a lot of time with on the trip – before the trip even starts!
- Get your guide & Viator– If you are just looking for a short day tour on an already-planned trip, then Get your guide is a great place to fill a gap in your itinerary, I have met plenty of friends on short city tours around the world!
Want to go travelling for a long time? Why not check out:
- Gap year advantages: 12 reasons why you should go
- Honest disadvantages of a gap year
- Harsh truth of Backpacking as a couple for a year
- Ways travelling can strengthen your relationship
Different platforms to find a travel partner
Since there are so many types of platforms that allow you to find travel partners, I am going to try and group them with other apps that work in a similar way. This can make it easier to understand each app and hopefully help you decide which app you would rather use to find your own buddies to go travelling with!
Volunteer & Work Exchanges
Worldpackers is a platform for eager travellers to find work exchanges and volunteer opportunities overseas. There is a community blog and academy where you can learn tips from other travellers to better prepare yourself.
You can stay with hosts all over the world and exchange your skills for accommodation and food and is a fantastic way to make new friends in other countries to travel with.
Workaway allows you to find cultural and volunteer opportunities around the world. Travellers can input their dates and locations of travel and whether they’re open to finding someone to travel with.
If another user has a similar itinerary they can reach out to you through the site. There is a yearly fee to join the platform which helps verify users. There is a review system so you can see how other traveller’s experienced the host opportunities you may be interested in.
I met my friend above at the Chiang Mai Elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
Social Network Style platforms
Travello is similar to a social media app but specialises in travel. You can upload your own posts about your travel experiences as well as browse other travellers’ posts. Not only can you meet travel buddies on this app but you can also get inspiration and travel tips for many new places around the world.
Travel Buddy could be described as a social network. The creators made an app that allows locals of destinations around the world to upload their tips, tricks and expectations of that place for future tourists.
You can ask questions and save posts of destinations you plan to visit to help you prepare for your visit. An added feature is how you can contact locals and other travellers in your new or future destination to get their expertise and maybe explore the location together! Find your buddies to start travelling with here!
UNBLND is another social network where users can join “interest groups” based on the things they are into. If you put “hiking” as one of your interests, you will be grouped with other people with the same interest on their profile too.
The site also groups people by location and you are able to friend request another person in your interest group. They manage safety by only showing the full profile details of a user if you BOTH want to be friends.
Tourlina is an app specifically for women to safely find a female travel partner. You can search by destination, trip dates & trip length to find travel companions with a similar itinerary.
All users will swipe left or right on new users they are or are not interested in matching with and once you both match you can start chatting and planning your trip! All new users are verified and vetted to make sure they are not fake or male.
Travel Sisters is another female-only travel site. They currently have a demo prototype that any female can join but are building another app tighter on security.
They take security very seriously and will only allow users to join their new app after being invited and verified. If you want to join but have not yet been invited, you can join their waitlist until you receive your invitation.
Focused on meeting locals
Couchsurfing is possibly one of the oldest platforms for allowing users to find a travel partner. It works best when you have a very detailed profile and works on a review system.
Although the site’s main purpose was connecting guests with a place to sleep for the night in a local or host’s home; it has since added the ability to meet a local or fellow traveller to explore the new destination with.
International Greeter Network
The Greeter Network is an organisation that matches travellers with local buddies and greeters in their chosen destinations. You can input the places you are visiting and a greeter is someone local who can show you around from a resident’s point of view.
They focus on free walks and the “greeters” want to be a comforting contact in the new city.
Flip the Trip
Flip the Trip is currently only available on Apple, so I have only used the website rather than the app. It is a basic app that allows users to search for users nearby and can share tips through the “feed” option.
You are also able to see if there are any locals connected with the app in your destination who may be able to share their tips or show you around.
Itinerary & Profiles
Trip Giraffe is a site where you can create your potential itinerary and mini profile. You have the option to either wait and see if people request to join your trip or invite them if you think their itinerary is similar to yours.
If you would rather join someone else’s itinerary rather than make your own you can request that too! Even if potential buddies request to join your trip and go travelling with you, the other users still have the chance to approve or deny travellers after checking out their profile.
This of course depends on if you think they will match well with you.
GAFFL is a platform that allows you to “advertise” yourself & your ideal itinerary and find others who may be interested in booking the same trip. Users have the option to reach out to other people who have advertised a similar trip itinerary and start chatting through the platform.
If you’re both on the same page you can book and meet at a pre-planned public place to begin your journey together. They have a 3-step verification process to try and keep users as safe as possible.
Travel Companion Exchange
TCE platform seems to have a layout similar to a dating site where users make a profile about themselves, where they want to travel and what they’re looking for in a travel partner.
The average age of users seems to be in the higher bracket compared to many other platforms on this list. You can search travel companions based on the most active on the site, how many similarities they have with your own profile and when they registered.
Groups & Day trips
Meetup is an app that allows users to join a hobby group or activity to meet others with similar interests. If you don’t see any groups that tick all your boxes you have the ability to create your own group.
You could find a group of people going on a walking tour of a city you’re visiting. It’s a fantastic app with so many types of groups available since people have such a wide array of interests.
Trip In Touch
Trip in touch is a platform to help solo travellers connect with others from anything from a coffee, a theatre show, an excursion and more.
They are currently rebuilding their platform and app to be released soon but in the meantime, they have a Facebook community where you can find buddies to go travelling within their destination groups here.
How else can you find a travel partner?
Finding somebody to travel with is very similar to making friends in a new city. You’re basically looking for another person to share new memories with while you explore a new place. You need to have things in common and have mutual respect for it to work out in a positive way.
Apart from the websites and apps above to try and find friends virtually, I don’t want you to forget about the traditional way of meeting people in the destination.
If you start your trip solo and opt to stay in sociable hostels rather than hotels, you’ve already done 50% of the work! Most travellers who stay in hostels, even those with travel buddies already, are open to meeting new people to continue travelling and exploring with!
Practically every hostel I have stayed in around the world I have kept in contact with at least one person I met there. This means not only can you make travel buddies for the short term but also likely to have friends for life around the world.
This is extra helpful when you want to check out their hometown in the future.
Check out Hostelworld below to find yourself the perfect sociable hostel!
Popular travel routes
When you visit places like Australia or New Zealand on a working holiday you don’t understand how likely it is to keep bumping into the same people accidentally. In New Zealand, many tourists will choose to travel with companies like Kiwi Experience who end up staying in the same hostels, doing the same tours and travelling on the same buses.
After a while, you may as well get to know these other travellers and make a loose plan to continue on together.
Australia, as big of a country as it is, has the same issue. I regularly bumped into people I last saw 3 weeks prior in another city. It happens because many visitors travel up (or down) the East Coast and hit all of the same popular tourist spots using the Greyhound buses.
To save time, find out what direction they’re travelling in and if heading the same way as you just ask if they want to be your travel partner! What have you got to lose?
When I was volunteering in a hostel in Thailand I ended up running into my volunteer teammates 6 weeks later in a neighbouring country!
Summary of finding your own travelling Buddies
So, if you really need to travel with another person to enjoy yourself or feel safe, don’t worry. You’re bound to find at least somebody you like and get along with enough to explore a new place together.
And If the apps don’t work out, I highly recommend joining one of the solo tour companies that specialise in grouping solo travellers with other like-minded tour partner’s to enjoy your new travel experience with.
Good luck & let me know in the comments how you get on!