How to Find Travel Companions

••• Photo © John Boyer

You're an avid traveler, fascinated by unknown places and new experiences. You know where you'd like to travel and have done some trip planning. There's just one stumbling block: you want to find a travel companion, someone who wishes to see the world and has a travel budget similar to yours.

How can you find travel companions who want to take local trips and save up for big vacation adventures?

Identify Your Vacation Goals and Travel Style

If you want to travel with at least one other person, you will need to spend some time thinking about your travel goals and travel style.

If you don't know how you like to travel, you will not be able to explain your travel expectations to potential travel companions.

Travel style options to consider:

Hotel rooms: Do you prefer luxury comfort, mid-range hotel accommodations or bargain-basement hostels?

Dining: Do you want to experience Michelin star-level dining, local favorites, chain restaurants or fast food? Would you prefer to cook your own food in a vacation cottage or efficiency suite?

Transportation: Are you comfortable taking public transportation, or do you prefer to drive your car or travel by taxicab? Are you willing to walk long distances?

Sightseeing: Which travel activities suit you best? Museums, adventure and outdoor travel, historic sights, guided tours, spas and shopping excursions are just some of the options you should consider.

Places to Find Travel Companions

Word of Mouth

One of the best ways to find a like-minded travel companion is to tell everyone you know that you want to travel, but need someone to go with you to keep costs down.

Ask friends and family to pass along your contact information if they meet someone who wants to travel and is trustworthy.

Senior Centers

Depending on where you live, your local senior center might be just the place to find a travel companion. Many senior centers offer both day trips and weekend adventures, but even if you don't find those destinations interesting, you can meet people who enjoy traveling at one of the center's other programs.

Try an exercise class – you'll want to be as fit as possible for your next trip – or a cultural class, such as music appreciation. You might just bump into someone who could be a future travel companion.

Travel Groups

Travel groups come in all varieties. Sometimes these groups are called travel clubs or vacation clubs, because they often have some type of membership requirement, which could include membership fees or dues. You may be able to find a travel group through your church, place of employment, public library or school alumni association. Once you find a congenial group, you can take trips with the travel group or plan an independent trip with travel companions from that group.

Tip: If you are looking at travel groups to join, be sure you understand the difference between a travel group that charges a small amount ($5 to $10) per month for dues and a vacation club that requires a membership fee of several thousand dollars. In 2013, the Better Business Bureau's Dallas and North Texas office published an investigation into travel club selling practices, focusing on the vacation club scheme and the high membership fees some vacation clubs charge.

Online Groups / Meetups

Increasingly, travelers are turning to the Internet for help locating travel companions.

The website Meetup.com, for example, allows members look for, join and start groups dedicated to travel, dining and almost anything else that interests them. For example, a meetup group called "50+ Singles Travel and Social Group" organizes daytrips , social events, cruises, tours and visits to special events in the Baltimore area. The group has over 700 members. Tribe.net lists groups built around all types of travel-related topics; each group, or "tribe," has a forum where members can discuss items of interest. 

Stay Safe As You Look for Travel Companions

Always exercise caution when revealing personal information to members of an online group. Never agree to meet an online acquaintance in a private place; always meet in public. Use good judgment and trust your instincts when deciding to participate in a group event.

Meet a potential travel companion several times before agreeing to book a trip together.