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Fly a MiG? Swim with sharks? They're In!

How'd you like to grab a few buddies and fly a MiG-29 fighter plane in Russia? Helicopter ski in the Canadian Rockies? Or maybe just go fly-fishing in Vermont?

According to the new website I'm In! (imin.com) , a lot of men would -- and do. The Waltham-based trip-planning company is banking on its research that shows two-thirds of men take multiple social trips each year without their wives or girlfriends.

Such "mancations" provide a way for men to connect with one another for roughly a total of six months -- during the planning for three months before the trip and for about three months after it ends, looking at photos and reliving the adventure, be it diving with sharks in South Africa or huddling around a blackjack table in Connecticut.

"The destination is important and the activity is important, but the driver is the group's desire to get together and stay connected," said I'm In! co founder Brian Harrington , 39. "It's easy right out of college but with a job and family, time seems to slip away."

Most travel sites help consumers find rates and dates to provide booking options. I'm In! allows groups of any size to communicate in one place -- a private chat room of sorts -- and to plan every aspect of the trip, from making flight reservations to deciding who will room together. Photos from the trip can be posted on the group's private Web page.

Since Harrington and his business partner Josh Lesnick opened their virtual doors in November 2005, more than 500 groups have created trips through the site. Their biggest market, they say, is men between the ages of 30 and 55.

Through their website, Harrington and Lesnick have discovered that men tend to create "micro affinity groups" in childhood, college, or grad school, and that the groups often take trips together. Harrington and Lesnick are savvy marketers: The website offers customers the opportunity to create a name and a logo for themselves -- such groups have included the Odd Balls, the Blue Elephants, and the Law School Losers -- and then purchase T-shirts, hats, and other items.

Harrington and Lesnick are veterans in the hotel, travel, and start-up industries. Lesnick, 41, attended Cornell University 's School of Hotel Administration, and has been an executive with Hyatt and Starwood. Harrington worked for eBay, helped launch Upromise, a college savings loyalty company based in Needham , and headed sales for a company that takes high school kids on trips overseas. They met a decade ago when both worked for Sheraton Hotels.

Discussions about I'm In ! began in February 2005, when Harrington called Lesnick to talk about Iceland, which Harrington thought was a grossly under - marketed travel destination. Lesnick proposed developing a website that would help people plan gender-based trips. By the summer of 2005 the conversations became more serious. The first group to use I'm In ! was a group of dentists who called themselves the Nebraska Corn Husker Busters.

"We don't think of [these trips] as a single transaction," said Harrington. "These are groups with personalities and an identity. People are almost religious about taking these trips -- they might even be included [in] pre nups."

Susan Chaityn Lebovits can be reached at Lebovits@globe.com

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