Pros and Cons of finding a travel buddy online!

Many of us travel solo and at times it helps to have a buddy along during our trips. But our real life friends/family may not be able to join on all trips, so next best option is to find another traveler, though stranger so far, online.

Having a travel buddy gives you following advantages:
  1. Share taxi cost or boat hire cost etc and save some money
  2. Someone to click your photos than trying selfie
  3. Someone to talk to, share experience with and learn from their experience
  4. Ability to bargain with vendors/operators as a group than alone
  5. Someone to watch over your stuff say when you're taking a swim (and you can help your buddy similar ways)
  6. If your buddy knows local language or was already there before, it would be an added advantage
  7. Someone walking alone is more prone to robbery, scams etc than a group-even if it is 2-3 people
But teaming up with total strangers without background check/precautions can also lead to some complications
  1. You will never know the true intentions of the other person. There is a risk that one fine moment your buddy will steal all your valuables and escape.
  2. There're many gold diggers out there- who try to live off your money, not sharing any expenses
  3. There're wide range of scamsters out there, who scam unsuspecting travelers in different ways.
  4. There will be several issues if your interests don't match (like smoking, drinking habits, preferences like budget/luxury or beach/hill etc
If you've decided to give it a try finding a travel buddy, there're dozens of websites out there promising you one. But below are the major concerns
  • Many websites are scams- they make you sign up, get you some response through bots and fake profiles and then tempt you to pay money and subscribe. Once paid you will mostly be ignored or will be tricked to keep extending your subscription. Many auto renew your subscription without your consent. (Check reviews online for complaints)
  • Many use travel buddy concept to travel dating- trying to find someone to hookup with- this makes it very complicated for people- solo female travelers if they ever create an account will be bombarded with requests from males whose intentions are not always genuine. Similarly scamsters/prostitutes use these sites to find their victims/customers.
  • If your dates are fixed and trip is short term, finding someone else with exact itinerary/dates & location will be very tough. Someone with a month long flexible plan is more likely to get a travel buddy
Some precautions to take while trying to find travel buddies
  • Trying to team up with a couple/travel group might be more safe, reliable and less scam prone than trying to find a solo female/male travel partner
  • Similarly one should always be vigilant about possible drug users/traffickers and other anti-social elements trying to use you for their advantage. Laws related to drugs are pretty severe around the world- getting caught, even if it wasn't your fault will get you jailed for years, if not death penalty. 
  • Never share extreme personal details- like passport details, name of hotel you'll be staying etc on these travel buddy sites. Share only basic details
  • Most sites with subscription model are usually scam. Do check for reviews and feedback before paying
  • Know the person more before actual meet- have a skype call, check their social profile/real life identify etc. Assess if your interests, priorities and preferences match
  • Do not trouble others in the community- if they don't respond it is mostly a NO. Stop
  • Assess all these risks- sometimes it is more peaceful to travel solo on your own terms. Risks may far outweigh advantages. But there is also an iota of chance that you may make a friend for life, meet really genuine and trust worthy people as your travel buddy.
  • There're lots of sterotypes at play- for example the news that India is unsafe for women and the fact that many Indian men would have sent lots of unsolicited messages to say solo European women travelers, there're fair chance that some people will entirely avoid certain nationality from their travel buddy search.
  • You may have better success in relevant facebook groups than independent websites- identity of a user is well known in such groups and probability of scams much less.
  • Staying at a hostel often offers a possibility of teaming up with someone else staying there on their plan for the day, if it is acceptable to them.
From my personal travel experiences, most of my solo trips I didn't make an attempt to find any partners- my trips were very short, on extreme budget and very tight and precise schedule. I am a bit introvert and not the most chatty person- I usually keep to myself. I didn't feel any need for a buddy. I met this old lady in Manila and a Poland based backpacker in Bali who are the only 2 short term (less than a day) travel buddies I had so far. Both of these were accidental and not a planned meet. Many other hi-hellos I had with fellow plane travelers, bus co-passengers or hostel mates didn't sustain further as all of us get busy with our lives post trip.
Recently I created accounts in two sites TripGiraffe.com and travel-buddies.com - have posted some of my trip details there to see if this works or if there're any real benefits. But haven't had any success yet- my trips are very short and precise so probability of someone else traveling on same date to same place and also be on this travel buddy site and discover me and show interest to travel with me is extremely remote. So I will not be counting on a buddy.

Do you prefer to travel solo or prefer a buddy? Have you used any travel buddy finding websites?  Did you find it useful? Do share your experience and thoughts.

4 comments:

  1. I usually go solo when not travelling with family and most of my tickets are planned last minute. I just end up with a post in whatsapp groups from my b school asking if people are interested to join me. Never tried these groups as such

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kartik. Yes, success rate is fairly low. Will be better to travel with known friends whenever possible.

      Delete

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