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We’re all here for the same reason: to find a travel companion. Someone who will make travel safer and more fun than it might otherwise be. Someone to plan with, travel with, share a laugh with – even if you decide not to share hotel rooms or other costs. How you travel together is up to you, after all.
But first, you have to find someone. That's our cue. And because we're new, we thought we’d show you some of GoPal’s features and how to make the best use of them when looking for a travel companion. Here are 7 tips that can help us help you find a travel companion:
1. Be specific. If you want to go to Switzerland, you’ll notice that GoPal’s list of “regions that interest you” on your profile page mentions only “Europe”. You’ll improve your chances of finding someone who also wants to go to Switzerland by mentioning this destination in your profile (go to My Settings to modify your profile) – both in the “Tell us about yourself” box and the “Tell us about your ideal travel companion” box. The same goes for specific events or trip dates. The more you say, the better your chances.
2. Broaden your search. Maybe you really want to go to Ecuador, because you’ve always dreamed of visiting the Galapagos Islands. Would you be happy extending your trip to visit other South American countries your travel companion might be interested in? You might have more luck finding someone to travel with if you broaden your search – by mentioning in your profile that you're flexible when it comes to certain parts of the world (see #1 above for how to do this) and by clicking “Other” in the list of destinations on the Meet Companions page.
3. Be patient and keep checking. Because we’re new, new members are joining GoPal all the time. So if you don’t have any luck finding a compatible companion the first time you search the Meet Companions page, or the first few times, don’t give up. Check again in a week’s time.
4. Say yes. Allow other members to send you messages by going to My Settings and making sure you haven’t ticked the box saying “I wish to hide my profile and not receive any messages”. (That is, you want to be able to receive messages from other members.)
5. Reach out. If you find a GoPal member who seems to be looking for the same kind of travel as you, send them a message to say hello. Because GoPal isn't a dating site, there's nothing to lose. If you're friendly and start conversations with other members, you might find that your travel plans have more in common than your profiles suggested.
6. Read between the lines. Not everyone is a wordsmith. That is, not everyone says exactly what they mean. So when you're reading others' profiles, give them the benefit of the doubt and a little understanding. As well as reading what they say, what might they be trying to say? Being able to see past someone's profile picture or description might help you connect and realise you have more in common than either of you first thought.
7. Know what you want. Our very first blog post offered some useful tips for writing a strong profile – describing who you are and what you’d like in a travel companion. Check it out here and see if you can refine your profile descriptions a little.
*Louise Southerden is GoPal founder Bruce Southerden's daughter as well as an award-winning travel writer, the author of three books and a regular contributor to Fairfax Traveller. You can read more of her writing here and on noimpactgirl.com