There are so many articles, blogposts, lists and recommendations about the apps you need when travelling, that you might a) be confused b) have run out of space on your phone c) wonder how people used to survived without technologies. Or all three at once. Which is where most of us get after a while.
So, return to basics. You do NOT need apps when you are travelling, old-fashioned maps are easy to use, don’t run out of battery and look good in your travel diary. Word of mouth works wonders for stuff to do, places to eat and sights to see. And last, but not least, you don’t need games when you can look outside the window, about you, have conversations with people you would never have met at home and/or you’re completely lost and you need your wits to find your way home.
For someone who used to write about digital technologies, I suppose I’m not making much sense. Those who know me are aware of the fact that I have had the same phone for more than 5 years, and that even if I wanted to, apps would probably not be an option for my poor old school Blackberry.
Now, having said all that, there is ONE app I used when on the road. And no, it’s not some awesome interactive world map, it doesn’t aggregate all the local tips for whenever you find yourself at the moment, and it wasn’t even programmed to be a travel app.
Tinder! Yes, yes I know. I can hear you already “Really?!” So bear with me, all will become clear in about, say, 500 words.
For those of you who don’t know what Tinder is (my turn: Really?!), here goes:
Using Facebook, Tinder is able to build a user profile with photos that have already been uploaded. Candidates who are most likely to be compatible based on geographical location, number of mutual friends, and common interests are then streamed into a list of matches. Based on the results of potential candidates, the app allows the user to anonymously like another user by swiping right or pass by swiping left on them. If two users like each other it then results in a “match” and they are able to chat within the app. (Wikipedia)
Anyway, turns out everyone is on Tinder. Which is why it’s the perfect travel companion. Because the point of Tinder really isn’t to find a husband (even though, I do have friends who are now in serious relationships because of Tinder. Says more about my friends than the app) but no strings attached hook ups, I have never really seen the point of it when I was at home. Surely it’s quicker and less creepy to scan the room when you’re out and about with your friends. Plus, your friends have friends, who have friends who… Finding a boyfriend, or a hook up at home is basically easy, and pretty much analogue.
But when you’re travelling, you don’t necessarily have the time to build a network of friends, potential matches, or even local hangouts. And here comes Tinder.
But not really. Or more accurately, not only.
Whilst Tinder is advertised as a casual hook up app, I discovered its real power when on the road. Namely, to unlock access to endless locals with one switch right and a cheesy opening line. And that is when I fell very much in love with Tinder. I could ask some hot local guy about the best place to go and have a drink, whether it was worth spending money on this or that attraction, and all during “down” time: whilst fighting with the zipper of my backpack.
Meeting locals is usually one of the reasons you are travelling. It is a priority, the one aspect of the trip that will make everything go from “ok” to “brilliant”. And Tinder makes it easier. It is not only about locals, but also all the expats and fellow backpackers who, like everyone else, are on the app. Whilst it is usually not hard to meet people when backpacking around the world, it can sometimes be daunting, time consuming, and at times, if I’m being honest, even wearying.
The app makes it so simple to get local info without leaving your bed (your own!). Because you don’t need to go on a date with someone to find out what they think of the one club everyone is talking about. It also gives you the opportunity to meet up and do something unexpected when you do want to put clothes on and go out exploring.
And I have not mentioned sex once. Sex doesn’t come in the equation, it doesn’t have to (even though… actually, that might be another post). For every DTF (down to fuck) guy out there, there are 10 genially bored guys who feel like meeting people. And they are those who just feel like chatting and passing the time when they’re at work.
My personal experience is only positive. I’ve partied with fun people met through Tinder, without a hint of creepy flirtation; I got to be driven around Denpasar on a bike during rush hour (isn’t it always?) and watch the sunset on Kuta beach without having to drive, get a cab, or even give anyone my number. I am, against all odds, still in touch with some of the guys I met through Tinder, even though we are currently on opposite sides of the world. It’s actually quite nice to get a “what’s up” now and then, the same way I get asked for life updates by old university friends at regular (ish) intervals.
Is Tinder creepy? I guess so. But it really is what you make of it. there are loads of things to see and do out there. Tinder gives you people to see and do them with. And more, if you feel like it.
As always, follow your guts. Doesn’t feel right? Get out of there ASAP.