Traveling the world alone is every young person's dream, and every parent's nightmare.
The idea of meeting new people on the road, couchsurfing your way across a country, and relying on the kindness of strangers is at once a romantic and a scary prospect. These days, technology, as it has with everything else, is changing the game.
If you don't want to travel alone, but can't convince friends to join you on your epic journey, UK-based Companions2Travel will hook you up with other travelers in the same situation. Not unlike a dating service, for a fee you can create a profile, then find other members who will be traveling to the same destination at the same time as you.
TravBuddy not only connects you with other travelers, it is full of advice and tips from other members, so you can research your destination before you arrive.
Tourist Link will connect you with fellow travelers as well as local guides who can give you the ins and outs of your destination.
Obviously you should take the same kind of care as you would meeting anyone for the first time. Meet in a public place, and let your family know exactly where you are going and who you are meeting.