HERmail.net: Connecting Female Travelers and Mentors Around the World

by Nora Dunn on 1 October 2009 4 comments
Photo: HERmail.net

“Where – oh where – can I get a decent haircut in Mumbai”? You just may find the answer to this question via HERmail.net.

I recently discovered an amazing service for female travelers to connect with women who live in the country they plan to visit. They can share their respective cultures, travelers can learn tips for being in a different country, and sometimes even a free place to stay is offered. The service is called HERmail.

Oh yeah, and it’s free.

Who Uses HERmail

In this age of technology, online chat rooms, social media, and instant messaging services, it is actually surprising that HERmail is as popular as it is, since it is a fairly simple email-based service. But with over 15,000 women in 35 countries who have signed up for HERmail as mentors who are willing to offer their sage advice, any eager female traveler would be amiss not to attempt to connect with one of these women.

How it Works

HERmail is the brain child of JourneyWoman, a very popular travel resource and newsletter for women. HERmail is an email-based service that uses a database to connect travelers who have questions with local mentors who (hopefully) have answers.

Are you traveling? Then simply visit HERmail and enter the city and country you are visiting, along with your query (be it for weather information, packing tips, questions about good places to stay and eat, or a decent place to get your hair cut), and the database is searched for up to two mentors in the area who can answer your question.

Are you interested in connecting with female travelers to your area? Great! Sign up to be a mentor. When a request comes your way through the database, you can reply as you wish.

Judging by user responses, HERmail often goes beyond connecting travelers and mentors for the purposes of answering specific questions. Many mentors relish the chance to meet another female traveler and will go out of their way to get together for a local tour, a meal, or even offer up their place as free accommodation.

“I was delighted when I received an email…a few short days after I had signed-up looking for someone living in Rome. She gave me many suggestions for my visit and even offered to help with my Italian. When I arrived in Rome I was able to actually meet her and she went out of her way to make it happen. She is a wonderful person and I am grateful for having a new friend. Thanks, HERmail!” -Barbara, Cape Cod, USA

Security and Privacy

No email addresses are listed publicly on the HERmail database, as it is searched internally every time a traveler request for information comes in.

HERmail initiates the first contact between mentor and traveler using online message forms so that identities remain private. After the initial contact, the traveler and mentor can exchange email addresses and continue their correspondence privately if they wish.

As for the safety of meeting a “perfect stranger” in a foreign country for lunch or even a place to stay for the night, here are some basic tips for staying safe in any hospitality exchange scenario:

  • Exchange as much (or as little) information as you wish via email prior to meeting. This is the best way to get to know your companion, shy of a telephone conversation (which could be pricey depending on the distance involved).
     
  • Meet in a public place first. If either of you get bad vibes, then don’t proceed with any plans that would compromise your safety. (And don’t worry about hurting somebody’s feelings either…your safety is paramount).

HERmail in Action

Woman requesting a mentor wrote:

I am a Journeywoman living in the UK. I work in the arts and theatre world and soon I will be leaving the UK to go and work in a Cultural Centre in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was wondering if there is any way to connect with women who live and work there? This is my first time away from home so far and in a country of a completely different language to what I have ever known. I'm a bit nervous and wanted to meet people as soon as I get there, so I can make friends, etc.

The mentor who answered her wrote:

Dear Journeywoman, I am very pleased to know that you are coming to Sao Paulo. I'm 57 years old; my 30 year old daughter is an actress and eventual singer, my 35 year old son is an architect who has just spent one year working in London. I'm crazy about arts, I've been twice this year to England, I love your country, I will LOVE to know you, escort you and help you in whatever you need here. How old are you? When are you coming? And for how much time? Don't worry, we are here! Big hugs.

…And if this first email conversation above can end in “big hugs”, I can only imagine how huge the hugs will be when these two women meet in Brazil, thanks to HERmail.net.

 

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Guest's picture

That is an intereting concept. I wonder how they make any money?

Guest's picture
Guest

I don't think sites like this (and Couchsurfing, and Hospitality Club, etc.) are about making money, but instead about providing a social and safe network for travelers and those wishing to meet/guide/host/talk to travelers.

Thanks for the article! I'm very active on Couchsurfing, which is mostly hosting and visiting, but I like that this site has an emphasis on locale questions, advice, and the like!

Guest's picture
Guest

Granted...they do need money to keep the sites running...most of these kinds of things are funded by donations and lots of volunteers...

Guest's picture

So happy to find out about this site! I couchsurfed around the world over the past year and wish I had known about HERmail sooner so that I could have connected on a more personal level with the foreign cultures. I know now and am signing up for sure!