Let’s start with the basics: Yes I met my boyfriend on Tinder while I was travelling. However, that’s not the reason I’m writing this post. With Valentine’s Day so close, I decided I should write something appropriate and since I don’t do cheesy, I decided to go for the next best thing, which is a dating app of dubious reputation.
I had been postponing the topic for different reasons. But primarily because it seemed to scare the hell out of the guys I dated. Most of the time I managed to have a really nice conversation with the prospect in question until he discovered I was a travel blogger. And then the inevitable question came: Are you going to write about me?
Chill out, dude. I have tons of Mexican guides, border horror stories and travel book lists to write before even considering damaging your ego online. But anyhow, now that I have been in a serious relationship for more than a year and that my Tinder days are way past, it seemed appropriate to pass some of my
lack of wisdom to my lovely readers and share the pros and cons of using Tinder while travelling. Also, Conor (my boyfriend) doesn’t mind about what I write about him on my blog. At least until now.
*Update: Conor has read the article now and wants me to state he is still doesn’t mind what I write about him:
Why I started using Tinder while travelling?
To be honest, I was never a big fan of Tinder while I was at home. I don’t know if it is the same in other countries, but, at least in Mexico, Tinder is basically an app for last-minute booty calls with strangers.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against casual sex, but one-night stands are not really my thing. I need a sort of connection before moving to the physical aspect. I’m not asking for flowers or chocolates, but I need at least a couple of good conversations until 3:00 am.
However, a couple of years ago, when I was a super newbie traveller, I found myself in Anstruther, Scotland. Population: 3500 inhabitants, all of them over five decades of age.
Although I enjoyed my first weeks of solitude and me-time, after almost a month I state craving for a bit social interaction with someone who did not want discuss his retirement plan with me. That was how my Tinder account was born.
Pros of using Tinder while travelling
You get to know new people
As you might know, I mostly travel solo. And that’s OK and I love it, but, from time to time, it is nice to have someone to talk to (and get your pictures taken). I know what you are going to say: “Dann, but you stay in hostels so often and hostels are the perfect place to get to know new people. Why do you even need Tinder for?”
Well yeah, you are right, hostels are full of people willing to socialise. And, although I did party with several hostel guests, let’s not forget that hostel travellers leave very soon. You can hang out for a day or two, say goodbye and then start all over again with the new guests. That’s a nightmare for introvert/extroverts like me.
However, using Tinder while travelling, especially if you are a long-term traveller like myself, gives you the chance to meet up with someone on a more constant basis. If the first date is not super awkward, that is. But, even if things don’t work out, it is always good to have an acquaintance in the area.
Super interesting conversations
Although sex is usually the reason most people turn to Tinder, being a foreign woman in a new country really spikes the curiosity of the locals. I am not saying I didn’t get a few “fancy a fuck?” opening lines, but they were considerably fewer than in Mexico! The fact that you come from a completely different place brings a lot of topics to the table and leaves the sexual topic on a second basis.
I met a guy from the Scottish Highlands who taught me a bunch of magical local legends and I also dated a fella from Cape Town who demystified all the wrongs prejudices most people have about Africa. There are definitely a bunch of things you can talk to with your potential match before considering moving to the sexual scenario.
You get personalised tours of a new city
I think this might sound as if I was using the Tinder guys to get free tours or something, but I promise that’s not the case. The thing is that when you are a foreign girl in a new place, it is only logical that guys will want to show you around.
To be honest, I think it is great, because it takes away the pressure of the awkward first date. You get to walk around the city, there are a lot of things to talk about and nerves are not so present as in a regular date.
The first time Conor and I dated, he basically showed me EVERYTHING you need to see in Northern Ireland in just one day.
We had brunch at the Antrim Coast, we went to Dunluce Castle, then we stopped at Giant’s Causeway, had some whiskey at Bushmill’s Distillery and we finished the day getting lost in the rain on our way to the Dark Hedges. I believe that when he re-enacted Finn McCool’s legend at the Antrim beach (he made different voices and everything) I fell for him a little.
Experience a new city like a local
Sure, the Eiffel Tower and the Big Ben are great, but there’s no better way to experience a city than having a local insight. Touristy, must-see spots are ideal for a first date, but if things go well, it is possible that you get to see a different side of the city and even get an exclusive insight of the day-to-day life.
After a brief tour of Ghent, this guy I dated took me to meet his friends from Uni and we ended up playing board games and eating hummous in one of the Belgian girl’s apartment. I really got a real feel of the university life and the quotidian routine of the inhabitants of Ghent. And there is no way I could have gotten to experience that without my date.
You can get lucky
Hey, if your ultimate goal is international sex, go for it! I am not here to judge. For some reason, sometimes being foreign gives you some extra appeal. If you and your date are both conscious and sure of what you want, there is no reason you can’t get down and dirty using Tinder while travelling.
Cons of using Tinder while travelling
Your Tinder date might only be looking for sex
You should not forget that, even though there are exceptions, Tinder is perceived, after all, as a hook up app. As I said, there is nothing wrong with that if you are also just looking for sex, but if you are not in to get some, then you should make it very clear.
Some people will go straight for the nasty (seriously, I received so many cringe-worthy opening lines), while other might play it cool first and then surprise you with unreal sexpectations.
I had this American roommate that agreed to go on a date with a guy in Croatia. He asked her to meet him in the beach, but since Allison was new in town she didn’t know that a bunch of Croatian beaches are actually… Well, nude beaches…. So when she arrived to her date this is basically what she found:
There’s no need to say that things didn’t work out between Allison and the guy.
Anyways, Just remember, just because you agreed to date someone and even decided to go to his/her apartment, that doesn’t mean you have to do anything you are not comfortable with.
Unrequested dick pics… So Many unrequested dick pics
Yeah, you matched, you have been talking for a while, things seem to be going well, so you exchange Whatsapp to communicate better. A notification appears, it’s him, you get a bit excited, wonder if he finally asked you on a date. You finally open the message and you find an unrequested portrait of male genitalia automatically saved in your phone.
Why?! Why would people think it is socially acceptable to send pictures of their junk to any woman who agrees to exchange phone numbers? Beats me, but truth is that using Tinder while travelling might possibly bring you a whole gallery on unwanted human anatomy in your phone.
There is no easy way to avoid them. Some people will ask you at some point why are you on Tinder, and that is basically code for “Wanna honka-honka?”. So you can use that opportunity to clarify what are the things you want and don’t want, but even when you clarify you are not there for the goods, you can still get some proofs of fragile masculinity straight into your inbox.
Stereotypes are everywhere
I don’t actually know if this happens to everyone who uses Tinder while travelling, but the fact that I am from Mexico really spiked the “Horny Latina” stereotype among some of my matches. A bunch of conversations started with something along the lines of: “Mexico! Muy caliente! Spicy sexy mami!” Or some cheesy, disgusting cliché like that.
I also had some Asian friends telling me that they received a lot of matches just because they were Asians and not because they were… Well, people. Go figure.
Using Tinder while travelling means that there is going to be a clash of cultures. You are talking to someone from a different country, a different background and probably a different language, which can be very stimulating. But you must not forget that this app is not precisely the most refined place on the cyberspace, so there might be some misconceptions about you or your country and some ass*oles might expect you to appear with bananas in your head while dancing salsa. But then again, that might only have happened to me.
Danger of bonding
I think this is my category. Using Tinder while travelling means that you can get to know local people, explore a new city and even get some romantic action, but you shouldn’t forget that all these comes with an expiration date. Travelling is not permanent, so even if you managed to avoid all the sex maniacs and the hog shots, you might still face another danger: feelings.
When I started dating Conor I made it very clear that I couldn’t have anything serious. I was leaving Ireland in two months, so we would hang out, make out and then kiss good-bye as friends. However, as the time passed, I realised it was going to be harder than expected. We had developed a real connection there and we both knew that moving on was not something we wanted to do.
In the end we found a solution. And, although we haven’t figured out all the details, we are still trying. He keeps up with my constant travelling, I go back to Ireland as often as possible. He is visiting me in Mexico in a few weeks and we hope to slowly discover a way to make it work.
However, I know that not every case is the same and I think if I had tried this with someone else different from Conor, it probably wouldn’t have worked. So yeah, I would say bonding is a big con of using Tinder while travelling, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way around it. Try to keep it casual and if things escalate, talk to your match and look for something that makes both of you comfortable.
Using Tinder while travelling, or actually using Tinder in general won’t come without risks. After all, you are talking to a complete stranger that might or might not be the person stated on his or her profile.
I think not so long ago I saw in the news a guy who went to pick up his Tinder date and he got beaten up and mugged inside her apartment. And, as in almost every date, there’s always the danger of getting your drink spiked or having a match that thinks he or she is entitled to your body just because you are dating. So, especially in a foreign country where you don’t have your friends and family around to help, you need to be extra careful with your Tinder choices.
I wrote a mini guide with some safety tips for anyone who wants to use Tinder while travelling. There are many ways to stay safe, but these are the ones that have worked for me, at least:
Don’t go with the first option
I know this is hard, especially when you are on a limited time. Since I stay at the places I travel for at least a month, I have the opportunity to chat and get a better idea of who is this person on the other side of the screen.
However, I know that if you are in a place for only a few days and you need a quick date for the night, you might want to speed things up. Just make sure to talk to your prospect as much as possible and ask a bunch of questions so you can get a better picture of the match. If something seems shady, then please don’t date him or her! The Tinder universe is vast, so pick the match that makes you feel the safest.
Meet in a public place
This is a good one if you haven’t spoken that much with your match, but even if you have been chatting for a while, I think the safest option is to meet somewhere with other people around. Even if you plan to take things straight to the bedroom, first make sure the person doesn’t look like a murderous maniac or at least that he or she is not wearing flip-flops with socks or something like that.
It is just preferable to have a public approach the first time you meet. Even though the texts might have been nice, you don’t really know how a person is until you actually face him or her. So having a lot of witnesses is safer for any blind date.
Always let someone know where you are
The first time Conor and I dated, he offered to drive us to the Giant’s Causeway. When we were reaching his car, he asked me if I was not nervous of hopping into a stranger’s vehicle. I confessed that I was a bit, but I clarified that my best friend had his mobile number and I was sending her his car plates as we spoke, so I felt a bit more calmed.
Luckily, Conor took it with good humour, but my point remains. I have stressed this in the past, and I won’t get tired of saying it: make sure to let a friend or a family member where you are and whom you are with.
My friend Pau and I always have each other’s backs. Whenever we go out on a Tinder date, we have a small routine where we send our date’s number, we specify where are we going and at what time are we coming back home. If we do not get back to each other by that time, we have Liam Neeson in speed dial.
Go with your gut
This is hard to explain, but if something doesn’t feel right, it is probably not right. Even if your prospect seems super charming and attractive and funny, if something tells you that you should leave, listen to that something. My gut has saved me a bunch of times while I’m on the road and using Tinder while travelling is no exception. Be smart and be cautious. You are always allowed to say no or to change your mind.
Don’t have many expectations
First dates are the worst, huh?
Sounds hard, but it is true. A Tinder date can go many ways. I knew this in advance, so I didn’t open my account with many expectations. I just wanted someone to talk to and maybe meet up for a coffee or a beer. If you are waiting for a long-term, serious relationship, maybe Tinder should not be your first option. Although I have been together with my Tinder match for almost fifteen months now, I’m pretty aware that it is not a very common scenario. And, if I’m honest, it probably happened because Conor and I are a pair of weirdos.
Also, keep an open mind. I dated a few times and I can say it went reasonably well most of the time. But there are some other stores of people using Tinder while travelling that didn’t end up so successfully. My friend Pau agreed to meet a guy in Barcelona who said he would show her a great local restaurant in the area. They ended up in McDonalds.
Or my friend Nynke who got stood up twice by two different guys claiming that they had to pay a last-minute visit to their grannies. I still don’t know if that’s a common Irish excuse.
So… Tinder or no Tinder?
If you are curious of international dating and you are looking for a carefree, relaxed way to meet people abroad, I would say why not? Just be very clear about what you are looking for and use your common sense.
Oh and, please! If you have a super cool/weird/horrible Tinder story, I would LOVE to read it on the comments.
Thanks for reading! I guess I’ll see you on the road.