Why Tinder’s the Best Tool for Exploring a New City
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Ten years ago, the idea of meeting a rando in a foreign city would be the beginning to a Taken type movie or 20/20 episode.
Today, it’s not that crazy. In fact, there are even sites like Miss Travel which offer up the intriguingly ballsy idea of finding a “match” to take you to an exotic vacation. But even if you’re not an aspiring sugar baby looking for some rich guy with “no free time” to take you to Turks and Caicos, you can still utilize dating apps to enhance your travel experience that you actually pay for. I did, and even though I didn’t come back to the states with an adorably accented boyfriend, I did get a private tour of London via cute boys I matched with on Tinder.
Let me precedent this with the fact that I was a self-titled dating app veteran. When I moved to NYC for six months for an internship during college, I figured I’d spend my free time meeting as many hot guys in suits as possible, so I downloaded Tinder, and then Happn, and filled my free weeknights with wine bar dates and tapas restaurants.
But after leaving NY to go back to school for a semester, I had been out of the dating game for a bit (spoiler alert: there aren’t quite as many hotties in Philadelphia). When I embarked on a three month trip to London to study abroad, I was ready to re-download my fave dating apps and feel like Amanda Bynes in What a Girl Wants, complete with a cute spiky haired boy that had a British accent.
And I did just that. As soon as I realized that my ride home from the airport had wifi, I was on my phone checking out the local dudes on Tinder. Am I a hornball? Probs. Do I regret it? Not really.
Even though I only went on dates in London rather than downloading Tinder Passport and planning dates into my weekend trips, I still felt like I got a decent sampling of the men from multiple backgrounds (yay variety!). I went out with British dudes, but I also went out with Spanish dudes, Australian dudes, and a slew of guys from other countries that I probably don’t remember anymore.
But the best part of dating abroad wasn’t crossing different countries off of my hook-up bucket list, it was getting to see different parts of London through a local’s (or semi-local’s) eyes.
One of the best “dates” that stuck with me when was a lithe French boy who went to school in London offered to give me a tour of Brick Lane, otherwise known as the cool, trendy part of London close to where Amy Winehouse hung out and where Vivienne Westwood started the fashion of the punk movement.
We didn’t have any sexual chemistry, but it didn’t matter. He gave me a tour of the coolest street art in the area, then walked me through the shops (and didn’t even mind me taking too long in a dope clothing store), then took me to a cool beer garden where we sipped on cider. He introduced me to a bargain bagel and lox spot (my fave!), then we went back to his apartment to drink wine with his french roomies.
We never went on a second date, he never made a move, and we probs both equally had no attraction to each other. But the next month when my flat mates and I actually made it down to Brick Lane, I was able to show them around, which was an awesome feeling.
Not all dates I went on were as “touristy,” but even going to a restaurant or bar forced me to go to a new part of town or learn my way around the Tube, not to mention the new perspective I got from my dates–some of who had never been to the US.
Plus, if I scheduled a date, that meant I was going out that night. Many nights when my roomies turned in early or spent the evening watching crappy British reality shows, I went out to a cool new pub or rooftop bar. If I hadn’t set up dates, I’d probs be right there with them sitting in bed instead of taking advantage of all the time I had left in London.
Aside from the exploring aspect of things, using dating apps abroad kind of made me feel like this is the way we’d all love to date. I was being treated to a parade of hot foreign guys every week, I was going to cool places, and I was never catching feelings or worrying about shit. This probably was because I hardly ever did more than make-out with my dates. It’s really amazing how much less drama is involved when you don’t involve hook-ups. Not all my dates were probs happy about that. But I didn’t owe them shit, so I did what I wanted.
Sure, you don’t have to go on dates to explore a new city or meet new people. But for me, someone who’s not the best at making friends, dating apps were a way for me to explore with a bit of a safety net and guide. It wasn’t about finding Prince Charming, it was about having fun.
Thankfully, now dating apps like Bumble have Bumble BFF, which would’ve been an option for me if I wanted to meet girls instead of dudes. But then again, having a cute guy with an accent show you his part of town is never really a bad thing, is it?
But before you go on a right-swiping spree on your next vacay, just remember some safety precautions. Just because I never had to deal with weirdos while dating abroad doesn’t mean that they aren’t out there. Check out safety tips and dating advice for your Lizzie McGuire-esque romance here.