I travel a lot (as you can tell by my previous blog post). I first started travelling internationally when I left my country to study abroad, almost 10 years ago.
I’ve traveled alone in Central America, Asia, and all around Europe. I’m kind of addicted to it, and most of the time there is no one available to come with me, so I go alone.
I love solo travel – but I also love meeting people. So I use websites like Couchsurfing to do that. (If you’re not familiar with Couchsurfing, it’s a website that lets you sleep in the houses of strangers, and host strangers in your own house – a crazy idea, right?)
I couchsurfed in over 20 cities, and stayed with more than 50 hosts. Every experience I had was amazing, and I made some great freinds. However, there was one problem…
At some point, I started getting more and more messages from men that were only interested in flirting. Or to say it straight – CREEPY GUYS.
So naturally, I thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a GIRL-ONLY platform? Where travelling girls can message each other and meet up? To my knowledge, there was no such website. So I decided to make it.
Ok actually, it wasn’t as simple as that. The idea was born in Dojo, a coworking space in Bali (where I spent 3 months last year).
In Dojo, I also met people who were making things. Not just working for others or selling stuff online – but making products that solved actual problems: apps, websites, new social networks.
I was extremely inspired by this and wanted to work on my own product – a product that contributes to something I really care about – solo female travel.
But how do I go about it? Sure I make websites for a living, but I had never taken on such a complex project.
Well, with a lot of help from some great friends, I set up the humble beginnings of my project: a group chat which you can enter only if you’re a woman. I called it Femtravelers. I kept it simple, trying to get it out as fast as possible. Then I mentioned it in a couple of Facebook groups (that were not even travel-related) and immediately got almost 100 members.
So there was interest in my idea! That was all the motivation I needed.
(Of course I was still working on my freelance projects as usual, so I could not invest 100% of my time into this.)
I rolled out basic features as quickly as possible, even if they were buggy. The first version of the website consisted of a “login with facebook” button that sends you to the group chat – without even saving user details.
The next version implemented an actual login system with cookies and tokens, and user databases. By that time I was getting 1-2 user sign ups every day. I gotta admit, I lost a lot of these users due to bugs and PHP scripts not working correctly… lesson learned.
Femtravelers was starting to look like a social platform: login with Facebook, profile pages, messages. I also added a map that visualizes all the cities a user has visited (after they add the info to their profile).
I also built a small additional feature – Your Next Adventure, a web app that generates random adventure travel ideas.
Parallel to the development, I started organizing meet ups to promote my new platform. By that time, I was no longer in Bali – I was in Barcelona, a city full of travelers, and the perfect place for such meet ups.
After all, the main purpose of Femtravelers is to let girl travelers meet each other, and have fun! I’m not building just a website – I’m building a community where girls can find friends, travel buddies, answers to their questions, and just feel safe. I wanted to give this network a human face by hosting the events myself, and making sure everyone is having a great time.
We have been meeting up every two weeks in various cafés or having picnics in the park! These meet ups alone make the project worth it for me – they are so much fun 🙂
So what’s next on the Femtravelers roadmap?
- A way to plan your trips, and get useful information on the cities you’re about to visit
- More ways for people to find and message each other.
- More events, not just in Barcelona – in other cities around the world!