Traveling alone comes with plenty of benefits, but sometimes you just want a friend or a companion to join you on a trip—someone you can split costs with, go out with at night, travel sustainably with and explore a whole new world. Yet, sometimes things like work schedules or family and personal lives don’t match up, rendering you without a partner in travel.
One website is seeking to change just that.
Called, GAFFL, or Get A Friend For Life, it was started by Akib Amin as a way to connect travelers from all over the world who are already planning to go to the same destination, but just need a way to connect with each other.
We sat down with Akib and asked him to explain what it is about GAFFL that has so many travelers excited.
TravelPulse: What inspired you to create GAFFL?
Akib: I was broke in college and could not travel as much as I wanted to. I wanted to group up with people to share costs and travel together, but it was always really difficult. In my post-graduation trip around the U.S., I got lost while I was hiking alone in the mountains of Colorado. That event ultimately pushed me to start GAFFL.
When I told my childhood friend Shakil and my younger brother Abrar about the idea, they were on board right away. I really wanted to solve the problem and finding some really close people to work on it together got me started.
TravelPulse: Where are GAFFL users based at?
Akib: GAFFL currently has registered users from 156 countries.
TravelPulse: What types of travelers are using GAFFL the most?
Akib: Solo travelers dominate GAFFL. They are looking for other solo travelers or a small group to travel together. But there is an exciting number of couples and groups who look for travel buddies as well.
TravelPulse: What are the benefits of using GAFFL?
Akib: Traveling alone is boring, expensive and unsafe.
GAFFL is helping travelers find amazing friends all over the world. As I travel and meet with GAFFLers, one thing I always hear is how they make long term friendships, just as the name of the company suggests!
Our users are sharing rental cars, Airbnb, etc. They are taking sharing economy one step deeper. We built a tool called ‘Splits’ so that users can split the money on GAFFL before, during or after the trip. Users are saving a lot of money by splitting costs while traveling.
Traveling in a group is always safer than traveling alone… [and] it’s always safer to explore the wilderness in a group. Last summer, I went on a trip to Glacier. I used GAFFL to find hiking buddies. On our way down, we encountered a Grizzly with her cubs. Being in a group really helped us out a lot in that situation.
GAFFL also makes travel sustainable. Travelers are grouping up and sharing rental cars, [and] instead of [using] three or four cars, they are using one. These travelers drive thousands of miles on multi-day road trips. So, at scale, this reduces carbon emissions massively.
TravelPulse: How do you incorporate safety into GAFFL?
Akib: Trust and safety is our topmost priority at GAFFL. Since the beginning, we have worked very closely with our users to build a multi-step verification process, which includes phone verification, social account verification and ID verification. When the users complete the ID verification, which really confirms who they are, they get a green badge beside their name. There is no fee or cost to do this.
TravelPulse: Can travelers communicate entirely on GAFFL before their trips?
Akib: Yes. Travelers can communicate and organize trips entirely on GAFFL. After getting connected in trips, they can use the real-time group chat to plan their trip. Users also use the ‘Discover’ feature to find locals and travelers at a particular location and instantly connect with them through a direct message.
TravelPulse: What is the most unexpected feedback you’ve received from GAFFL users?
Akib: We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback so far. However, Scarlett’s [feedback is] one is the best. She is a 24-year-old solo traveler from the U.K. who is exploring the world. From Australia, she was looking for travel buddies in New Zealand. She found Amaia on GAFFL. After getting connected, they even found out they would be on the same flight going from Australia to New Zealand.
Scarlett later said, “I accidentally scrolled across GAFFL and I’m so pleased I did. I met Amaia and immediately decided to road-trip together. We’re spending 10 days together and it’s great because we have so much in common. Couldn’t have done it without GAFFL helping us find one another! It has honestly made NZ so much cheaper to explore as I get to split the costs with someone too.”
They are still really good friends and recently when I met Scarlett in the U.S., she told me that she was meeting up with Amaia’s mutual friend in the U.S. When you think about this deeply, they could only have known about each other, travel together, and become friends because of GAFFL.
TravelPulse: How much does GAFFL cost?
Akib: GAFFL does not charge anything to open an account, start trips, browse trips, add trips to wishlist or invite users to join trips.
We established a ‘pay-as-you-go’ model which allows users to join unlimited trips or create unlimited instant connections in a given time period. Currently, users are paying $6.99 for 30 days. It’s not a subscription. If someone is traveling for a longer time, they can get the value packages, $20 for 6 months and $30 for 1 year.
GAFFL does not show ads and protects user data. So, this keeps the product sustainable and we are growing every day.
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