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Site connects travelers through social networking

Tripmates is a new travel and social-networking website that aims to connect travelers worldwide. Combining TripAdvisor-esque forums and reviews with the personal profiles, blogs, and networking abilities of a site like MySpace, Tripmates is a unique concept that could turn out to be a useful resource for travelers.

To use Tripmates, you can create a profile with personal information (basics like name, age, gender, marital status, and interests, but also questions like "The books you might find in my carry-on bag" and "On a transoceanic flight, I would love to sit next to"), as well as details about upcoming trips, a blog, photos, music, and even videos. Besides profiles, Tripmates also has reviews of hotels, restaurants, sights, and activities; message boards browsable by destination or subject; and advice from self-proclaimed "Trip Gurus."

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In addition to the trip-planning aspects of Tripmates, the site can function as a social-networking/dating community. Similar to becoming "friends" on MySpace, users can "become tripmates" in each other's profiles, thus expanding each other's Tripmates social network. Users can also search for a "Trip Buddy" to meet up with on an upcoming vacation. People interested in finding a date can select "single and interested in meeting men/women to date" in their profiles. While the concept might seem like it would draw mostly college-age users, I found users ages 19 to 68.

Tripmates currently has about 300 profiles, but could potentially be a fun trip-planning and friend-meeting website if more people join. The online-dating aspect of the website isn't prominent, so it could really be used exclusively for trip planning if the thought of online dating makes you squeamish.

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