Findtravelcompanions.com is a global online meeting community. We provide a neutral ground where people can meet others who like to travel and arrange to go on trips together. While findtravelcompaniosn.com is not a dating site, you are still meeting people on-line and need to be aware of personal safety. We have come up with a few tips to help keep you safe:

  • You should exercise common sense and caution at all times when interacting with other members on the site or outside the site having made initial contact through Find Travel Companions.
  • If possible, you should also meet face-to-face or, at a minimum, via Skype before finalizing any travel arrangements.
  • This site is international so you may end up finding a Travel Companion in a different country where meeting face-to-face is not possible. This is when Skype is a great tool.  If you are meeting someone for the first time face-to-face, meet them at the airport or again only in a public place you are already familiar with or have already checked out over the internet. Do not get in a personal vehicle with anybody until you are totally comfortable and satisfied that your new travel companion seems ok and you feel comfortable with your personal safety.  Again let someone at home know what you are doing and always make sure your phone is working.

General Safety Guidelines:

  1. If you are meeting let it be in a public place if possible

It will be fun to meet people who have like travel habits you should be conscious that you don’t really know this person that well yet. Before meeting in person with any member and/or making any travel plans, you should first talk over the phone or via  Skype™.  The skype address for users is in their profile, if they filled it out, if not it is appropriate to ask for it so you can talk.  If you are close to each other, insist on meeting in a public place for the first few meetings. You should arrange this in a safe place with an open public venue i.e. Starbucks, Cafés, etc. are great places to meet.  A cup of coffee at a time where there are a lot of people around is a great option and continue this practice until you feel comfortable and satisfied with your personal safety . At this type of establishment your meetings can be short or longer depending on how well it’s going. Wherever you meet, it’s much better that it is somewhere busy and not a private home. Always let someone else know you are meeting this person, where, when and how long you expect to be.  Most people will not mind, as they will be concerned as well. If they are reluctant, remember it’s your safety that is most important – not what they think.

  1. Tell a Friend

A friend is usually the first person you tell things to, especially if you are going on a trip and looking for someone to go with you. But you will also want to tell your friend for security as well.  Tell them who you are meeting, when and where you are meeting and any other information you think will be useful.

If you decided to go on a trip with this person, make sure your friends and family have all of your trip details (where you are going – flight numbers, where you are staying – hotels, car rentals, and anything else that they may need.)

  1. Get the travel companion’s information

This is an important detail, but one that often get left out as it’s sometimes hard to ask for. When you meet in person ask for the person’s drivers license or another form of ID. Take a picture of it and send it to your friends or family as soon as possible. Do not forget this step.

  1. Don’t post personal contact information

Be careful about how much information you let slip out. Guard your privacy, as you really don’t know these travel companions no matter how much you may have in common. Don’t post personal information such as bank account information, credit card information, social security number, etc. When making travel plans book your own flights and hotels rooms, etc. versus giving anyone your credit card information.

  1. Trust your intuition

If something is bothering you, trust yourself even if you can’t put your figure on what the problem is. Trust your instincts about people, it’s usually right.

  1. Watch out for warning signals

People like to jazz up their profiles to look for appealing, doctoring photos answering questions the way they think will get them more matches etc. When starting to talk with people online, talk with them but with the knowledge that they may not be telling 100% truths. If anyone pushes you for your address or other contact details that you do not want to give (and shouldn’t) stop further communication right away, as this may be a big warning sign.

Some warning signs to look out for are:

  • Immediate requests to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service.
  • Claims your meeting was “destiny” or “fate”, especially early in your conversations.
  • Asks for money, goods or other types of assistance.
  • Asks inappropriate questions.
  • Tells a different story about themselves every time you talk.
  • Gives vague answers to specific questions or doesn’t answer your questions.
  • Reports a sudden personal crisis and asks for financial assistance. Be extremely cautious if the person demands become increasingly aggressive in nature.
  1. Privacy

It’s ok to keep details about your life private, potential travel companions need to earn the right to know more about you. Think about when you make new friends. You don’t tell them everything the first time you meet them. You tell them more about yourself slowly and that is perfectly ok. You should do the same online.

  1. Use caution when clicking on any URL Links shared

Someone you meet may share URL links with you of destinations they want to go to (resorts, hotels etc.) Just be cautions and use good judgment before clicking to make sure the link is taking you where you think you are going.

Some other safety things to think about

  • Keep your personal information to yourself, such as last name, social security number, address, bank and credit card numbers. Be cautious about posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline. This could be the name of your school, clubs, where you work, hang out etc.
  • Make sure your screen name doesn’t say too much about you, don’t use your last name, age or hometown.
  • Be wary if a new online friend wants to meet you in person. Before you decide to meet someone. Do your research: Ask whether any of your friends know the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart about it: Meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell friends or family where you’re going, and when you expect to be back.

 

Resources

http://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafety/7.6

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-stay-safe-when-meeting-someone-from-the-internet-1040400781

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0004-online-dating-scams

https://www.moneysavingpro.com/internet-providers/internet-safety-for-kids/