Miss Travel gets a miss, all right

Leave it to the Daily Mail to test-drive a sleazy sounding website…and find out that it does, indeed, have that general whiff of hinkitude about it. Joanne Hegarty signed up for “Miss Travel”, a sugar-daddy website for pretty but broke (and mostly, young) ladies and their wealthy would-be suitors, under an alias but using her real photo. She did, indeed, qualify as an “Attractive Hopeful”, but the responses she got were not exactly up to the site’s hype.

Here’s Bachelor #1 and #2:

My first suitor was a 26-year- old software developer from Moscow who claimed to be seeking any sort of relationship right up to marriage.

He dived straight in with an offer of a week-long trip to Madrid in mid-June and I was so startled by his forwardness that I didn’t even have the courage to reply. Next up was a 31-year-old scientist from Oxfordshire with an income of £70,000, who I’ll call Ben. He describes himself as ‘very intelligent and quite down to earth’. He’s single, seriously looking for a relationship and has already met one women from Hungary through Miss Travel which he tells me ‘didn’t go well’.

He’s also met ‘someone local’, although he thinks this is unlikely to progress beyond friendship. Ben gets regular messages from women in America through the site but says: ‘I won’t be paying for them to come to the UK.’ And herein lies the problem. Although the whole point of Miss Travel is to whisk me off somewhere exotic for free, the best Ben can come up with is: ‘Can I persuade you Oxford is a new and exciting place?’ And he doesn’t even offer to pay for my train ticket.

Bachelor #3:

This is ‘Nomad’ a ‘well-groomed, well-travelled’ marketing director from Central London who claims his annual income is up to £800,000. Not surprisingly, he says he likes ‘the finer things in life’ and his favourite drink is Krug champagne. Sadly he’s single because ‘these days Terminal 3 at Heathrow seems to be my second home and my suitcase my best friend’.

But Nomad turns out to be a terrible show off. ‘It’s kind of non-stop lately’, he emails me. ‘London till Monday then San Francisco, LA and New York over next two weeks, and then probably Tokyo after that.’But, just like the last Englishman, Nomad seems to have a problem opening his wallet. The best offer he comes up with is ‘a drink’ in London before he jets off again.

Bachelor #4:

But craziest of all is Brian, a 40-year-old bearded artist whose site profile announces that he lives in ‘a retreat centre and art space deep in the woods in Mexico’. Brian frankly admits: ‘I am probably not right for romance,’ but adds: ‘I like to mix it up with interesting minds. By my values I live like a king. Fresh veggies from the gardens and free range eggs.’

Indeed, when Brian emails me he announces proudly that he has been busy ‘waiting for a hen to hatch’. When I ask about his art, he says ‘theoretically I am a painter but I haven’t been doing well with that — no muse’. Instead he makes a living designing ecologically-friendly garden systems. Again, Brian isn’t forking out for any free flights, although he does say I can stay at his retreat ‘for a bit for free’.

If I want to stay for longer, then ‘we would figure out what you can do to help out’. Hmmm. Tempting but I’ll think I’ll pass the opportunity to stay with a complete stranger in the woods miles from anywhere.

Wait, aren’t these guys supposed to be rich and generous? It sounds to me like most of them just want a cheap date. Preferably one who’s pretty…and pretty desperate. (Okay, #4 sounds like he wants a bit more…a free “muse”-slash-household slavey for rumbles in the jungles. Fun, wow.)

One thing I don’t get is the sense that any of these guys are really classy and sincere. And I guess that’s no surprise, given that “Miss Travel” is run by a known purveyor of sugar-daddy dating sites. Obviously not one for vetting his male clientele, or warning women of the potential hazards of letting one of these creepers get his grubby hooks into them.

Joanne Hegarty’s advice? “Go on holiday with a girlfriend instead. You’ll have a much better chance of meeting a decent man, you won’t be lining Mr Wade’s sleazy pockets — and you’ll be infinitely safer.” Sound advice, for sure. Better still, pool your resources with several friends, and go en groupe. That way, there will always be someone at your back, looking out for the creepers. And whether you meet someone or not, you’re guaranteed to have a blast with your buddies, which is always better than an awkward time with Mr. Rich-But-Wrong…even if he DOES actually spring for an exotic trip after all.

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