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Some travellers prefer to go it alone, but others, like the above, are making use of a growing number of online portals through which they can seek out like-minded travel companions. The demand is so great that Lonely Planet's online travel forum, The Thorn Tree, has now launched a dedicated section for users looking to find a travel buddy.

'A few years ago there was a slight stigma about meeting someone on the web, but now that people are networking and making friends through the likes of Myspace, it's normal to be looking for a travel companion online,' says Tom Hall of Lonely Planet. 'I think it's mainly younger travellers on their first trip who want a bit of added security and company - but also as you get older many people just want to be with someone with the same interests and no big hangups. And some people just want to cut the cost.'

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