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Make Friends While You Travel

Make Friends While You Travel
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BY MARY JANE HORTON

If you love to travel, but don’t have the right travelling companions, have no fear. Several tour companies cater to men and women who want to travel solo and meet like-minded people. And when you travel with a small group of people, you can make friends fast – it is almost like summer camp. And if you want to go it alone and meet up with people along the way, there are several apps and websites for that. So here’s to seeing the world and making friends at the same time.

Tour operators specializing in solo travel

The Women’s Travel Group http://www.thewomenstravelgroup.com

Phyllis Stoller, who runs this company has devoted herself to opening up the world to women solo travellers. Arthur Frommer, the travel guru, called this company “ a welcome travel alternative for women.” Its mission “to give women insightful travel experiences, as well as new travel friends with whom to share the memories” reflects the wonderful experiences women have when they travel together. The company’s tour roster is exotic and offers many places that women wouldn’t want to visit alone. For 2016 tour are offered to: South India, Ethiopia, Iran, and Morocco. “Safety, fascination, accommodations, infrastructure, and our unique ability to make these areas come alive” are what Stoller looks for in a destination and trips involve lots of activity and delve into the local environment – not a lot of sitting on a bus. Groups are small – 20 at the most – and stay at 4 or 5 star hotels. Stoller is such a travel pro, that she is able to keep prices reasonable. For instance, a week in Morocco for the holiday season, is about $3000 when you room with another person (excluding travel to and from the destination).

Gutsy Women Travel http://gutsywomentravel.com/2015/

This travel company – which has been in business for 14 years – enables women to enjoy a travel experience tailored for them while offering value and attractive prices in the comfort of a small group atmosphereTour sizes will range (on average for most adventures and African safaris) from 10-16 participants.. Some of their upcoming trips include Eastern Europe to the Black Sea, starting at about $3,000. This is a river cruise that stops in Budapest, Belgrade, and Bucharest among other venues. Untamed Iceland, for about $3,800, starts in Reykjavik and includes lots of outdoor adventures such as river rafting, whale watching and trip above the Arctic Circle.

Intrepid Travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/

This operator prides itself on its very small groups – of about 10 – which makes it much easier to make friends with fellow travellers. “Small group style of travel means you’ll stay under the radar, travel the local way, eat the local way and sleep the local way. You’ll get as close to real life as possible (without actually moving in). You’ll have the unsurpassed knowledge of a local leader, taking you out of the guidebooks and into a world you’re waiting to discover,” says the company literature. Started in 1989 by two bearded backpackers, this company now leads 100,000 travellers throughout the world each year. Some of the most popular trips for solo travellers include The Best of Turkey, which is 15 days for about $1,500 and Best of Morocco, 15 days for about $1,400.

Abercrombie & Kent http://www.abercrombiekent.com/

This iconic, high-end outfitter offers small-group travel, granting intimate access to local culture. Solo travelers might be hesitant to book with a high-end company because of the higher costs, but Abercrombie & Kent grants generous discounts on single supplements for select departures on a variety of tours.

Single travelers on Abercrombie & Kent tours will always be granted single accommodations at hotels throughout their itinerary. On more than 40 departures for trips to places such as China, Tanzania, and Turkey, the company reduces tour’s single supplement by as much as 75 percent or waives it entirely, which can save hundreds or thousands of dollars. Unlike some tour companies that place solo travelers with roommates, single travelers on Abercrombie & Kent tours will always be granted single accommodations at hotels throughout their itinerary.

Overseas Adventure Travel https://www.oattravel.com/

With small groups – 16 to 25 people — and often no single supplement, OAT allows travelers to experience their travel dreams at lower prices. The company has regional offices located throughout the world, and has established long-term relationships with many local vendors and hotels. Buying direct brings down costs. Adventure oriented trips include The Route of the Maya from El Salvador to Belize (about $2,600 for 16 days) and Real Affordable Peru (10 days for about $2000). And, as the company says, everywhere they go, “the small group size makes it easier for us to veer off the main roads on our way to remote villages, ancient ruins, and each country’s hidden corners. Along the way, you get to enjoy a much more intimate and memorable view of nature and wildlife.” And that goes for cultural offerings as well.

How not to be alone, when travelling alone

If you decide to go it alone, there lots of website and apps that help you get in touch with local people or fellow travelers. Here are a few:

Breaking bread with people the world over – and at a meal by a great local chef – is just a click away with EatWith, http://www.eatwith.com/, a website that offers culinary experiences any where you might be. For instance, if you happen to be in London on November 27, you can sit down with a group of people to eat and learn about modern British cuisine with chef John. And on November 13, in Barcelona, you can dine on Fusion Tapas with a small group. Prices are usually reasonable – less than a dinner out.

ePenpal This app, for iPhone and Android, aims to help travelers find locals in the countries they’re visiting. Users can even instantly translate text messages they receive into more than 60 languages. While the translations, which are powered by Google Translate, are less-than-perfect, people can connect with and talk to locals without worrying about difficult language barriers. In addition to text messages, users can send voice messages, photo messages, or group chats. The app also works as a travel journal by creating and sharing photo essays, and text or voice stories to share with other users.

For a onetime fee of $9.99 TravBuddy, http://www.travbuddy.com/, lets you contact potential travel buddies, write and read reviews for hotels, bars and sights, as well as contact locals and receive updates when someone travels to your hometown or destination. Tailor your search to shared interests, gender, travel dates and more. Forums are also available to users, who discuss anything from favorite camping spots to proper travelling gear to coping with emotional troubles while abroad.

Wayn, an app for Android and iPhone, is a free app (with premium pay options) that lets you meet like-minded people and get travel recommendations from locals wherever you go. There is also great, locally sourced travel information on the app or website, http://www2.wayn.com/, for many popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Over 20 million people have joined worldwide.

 

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