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Traveling alone? You don't have to

Traveling alone? That doesn't have to mean utter solitude. There are many ways to find like-minded folks for G-rated get-togethers, no matter what your shared interest. The tradition started with groups like Stella Maris, an agency of the Catholic Church that provides help and friendship to sailors at clubs all over the world.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Traveling alone? That doesn't have to mean utter solitude. There are many ways to find like-minded folks for G-rated get-togethers, no matter what your shared interest.

The tradition started with groups like Stella Maris, an agency of the Catholic Church that provides help and friendship to sailors at clubs all over the world.

But you don't have to be a sailor to find community while you're on the road. For example, if you're overseas and craving some conversation with Republicans, look for fellow politicos at .

Republicans Abroad says more than six million Americans live overseas, and many of them have started chapters of Republicans Abroad in places as far-flung as New Zealand and Nevis.

Liberal? Check out , which has 202 chapters evenly distributed around the United States where wayfarers can talk politics.

"Bars are democratic places - you talk to strangers, you share booths, you feel the bond of common ground," says Drinking Liberally's Web site, which provides directions to get-togethers and instructions to drink responsibly.

Runners have their pick of several groups, including the storied 1930s-era , which has 1,800 chapters in every major city in the world offering runs and irreverent conversation for old and young, singles or families. Legend has it that British expatriates gave the harriers their name in honor of the Selangor Club Chambers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - a place known as the "hash house" for its dull food. The harriers' Web site includes a world directory, international news, and a Hash Hymnal.

Or try the . It lists races and running clubs all over the world, and has a message board to help its members find running partners.

At , you can find others who share your more narrow area of interest, be it chihuahuas, "Dungeons and Dragons," or stay-at-home moms.

"We believe that the world will be a better place when everyone has access to a people-powered local Meetup Group," says the site. The Ghost Tracking Meetup group has more than 500 members in Forth Worth, Texas, alone.

, is a volunteer-run organization created with travelers in mind. "Thousands of Hospitality Club members around the world help each other when they are
traveling be it with a roof for the night or a guided tour through town," says the Web site. The club "is supported by volunteers who believe in one idea: by bringing travelers in touch with people in the place they visit, and by giving locals a chance to meet people from other cultures we can increase intercultural understanding and strengthen the peace on our planet."

Similarly, the helps travelers find folks who will let them sleep on a couch or in a spare room so they don't have to stay in a hotel. Users of the site believe what they're doing isn't just about saving money on accommodations; it's also about cultural exchange. The Web site's motto is, "Together we can create a better world, one couch at a time."