Follow our travel blog to explore new destinations and learn about how GoPal works.
Welcome to the brave new world of finding a travel companion online. Because it's a concept that's new to many of us, we thought we'd kick off this blog series with a few tips to help you ease into it.
When you log in to GoPal, you'll see that as well as showing your preferences for the age and gender of the person/people you'd like to travel with, your profile lets you say a few words about yourself and your ideal travel companion.
These “anything goes” boxes give you the freedom to write whatever you like. But they can also be daunting. What should I say? How much should I write? How personal does this need to be? Do I have to be clever and creative?
So we've come up with 11 profile-writing tips to help you find your ideal travelling companion:
1. Know yourself. Before you actually write anything, take a few minutes to think about the kind of person you are. How would someone you love describe you? What are the three most important things you’d like someone to know about you? Is it that you’re divorced, a regular ocean-swimmer, love a glass of red wine every night?
2. Be yourself. Your profile is a great way to introduce yourself to others and hopefully attract the kinds of travel friends you’re going to like. To be most effective, try to be yourself when you write it. Show your sense of fun, your love for your family, your independent spirit, anything that makes you “you”.
3. Make a list. This isn’t about being a great writer. You don’t have to be clever or creative or witty. You can even write your profile in list form. A list can help you clarify your thoughts, in fact, and be easier to read than a paragraph of text.
4. What’s your travel personality? Travel often brings out aspects of ourselves that might not see the light of day in our at-home lives. So when you’re describing yourself, think about what you’re like when you travel. Do you love talking to strangers? Are you an early bird or a night-owl? What kinds of things are important to you when you’re away: good food, long walks, great scenery, value for money? Do you have particular interests you like to pursue when you’re away? Are you an avid shopper or bargain-hunter? Do you like to stay connected or go WiFi-free?
5. Have fun with it. Sure, finding someone to travel with is a serious quest, but it can help to enjoy creating your profile. Make yourself a cup of tea, pour yourself a glass of wine, ask a friend to meet you in a café to brainstorm ideas. Finding a travel mate can be as much fun as travel itself.
6. Browse. Browsing other members’ profiles can help you pinpoint what you want to say in your own. Which bits in someone’s profile make you curious to learn more about that person? And which bits make you want to move on to the next potential travel mate?
7. Know what you DON’T want. No matter how tolerant and understanding we are, most of us have preferences when it comes to the habits and personalities of the people we choose to spend time with. Would you mind if your travelling companion smokes, wants to visit the local markets in every town you visit, wants to share hotel rooms to cut costs? Don’t be afraid to include something you feel strongly about in your profile; communicating our “deal breakers” up front avoids misunderstandings later.
8. Be positive. Trust your hopes, not your fears, as someone wise once said. If you could travel with anyone, what would your ideal travel companion be like? Dare to dream; someone you really enjoy travelling with might be looking for you too.
9. Think about your friends. What do you like about them? How old are they, which gender, what are their habits, do they talk a lot or not much? Remember too that often our friends aren’t like us, and sometimes that works for a travel companion too. It can be easier to have one “organiser” and one “go with the flow” type on a trip, for instance, than to have two people with the same travel styles.
10. Horses for courses. Another thing to consider is that one travel companion might not suit every trip you take. You might prefer to travel with someone quiet in Japan, someone extroverted in Las Vegas, a great driver on a cross-USA road trip, an interesting conversationalist on a long train journey, a social butterfly on a cruise. The beauty of online profiles is that you can change them at any time.
11. Make contact. The more interaction you have with potential travel mates, the more you’ll fine-tune your ideas of who you’d really like to travel with. You can do this online, via GoPal messaging and email, but speaking to someone and actually hearing their voice on the phone or via an app such as Skype or FaceTime, will give you lots more clues about who they are and whether you’ll get along.
Above all, trust your instincts about others, treat everyone you meet online with respect, even those you can’t see yourself travelling with, and report any unacceptable behaviour to GoPal at any time to ensure GoPal remains a safe, fun and friendly place for us all.
*Louise 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