By Christian Roberts
Back home in the states, where Tinder is centered around dating and hookups, the app may raise a few eyebrows. But in Europe, it's a popular and easy way to connect with locals and fellow students abroad. Our WSA Intern (studying in Madrid) took a leap into the Tinder pool, and found results way beyond what was expected.
Swipe Left Swipe Right
A few months ago, I noticed something in the Madrid Metro; everyone around me was swiping left or right on their phones. It wasn’t long until someone explained to me that it was this new dating app called Tinder. In my mind, the red lights immediately began flashing; Are these Spanish people that desperate? Who even uses dating apps? But, after seeing more and people swiping left and right, including some of my friends, I decided to give it a go. For those of you who don’t know, in the world of Tinder, a face appears on your screen and you can choose to swipe right if you like them and swipe left if you don’t, and when you swipe right on someone who also swipes right on you, you are matched up and can begin a conversation. Pretty soon, I understood why the app was so popular. As one of my friends Justin put it, “it’s like being in an All You Can Eat Buffet, where you have a non-stop menu coming out and you just choose if you want to try something or not.”
Trying out the Tinder Game: Valencia
After becoming pretty pro at the dating app, it wasn’t long before I discovered its other great uses; one being travel. On a solo weekend trip to the Spanish coast of Valencia, I arrived early to my hostel and found that the walking tour wouldn’t be starting for another hour. To kill time, I began “Tindering” and in no time at all, I matched with a cute local who I had a friend in common with (Valencia’s Tinder response time is pretty quick in case you visit soon). I told her that I was here for the weekend and was waiting for a walking tour to start. She responded, “Con este calor? It’s too hot to walk, just to see the center. Let me show you the real Valencia!” It turned out that she had a car and was able to pick me up and give me an air-conditioned tour of the city. This was a best of both worlds scenario for me: she showed me the beautiful sites that Valencia had to offer, I tasted one of the best paellas in my life, especially since there was no tourist price attached, I got to practice my Spanish, and since we were moving so quickly, I still had time to relax at the beach. That night, she invited me out with her friends. It was a real local experience of Valencia.
Round Two: Barcelona
On another weekend trip to Barcelona, I wanted to make sure that this was a thing, so I Tindered again. (Barcelona’s response time is slower…) (Looking to have an epic weekend trip in Barcelona? Check out our trips page!) Eventually I matched up with a local who also was excited to share her city with me. It was a similar experience to Valencia (except no car), but I did get to see a hidden beauty that a regular tour might not show you: where Evanescence filmed one of their music videos, and I got to go to one of Barcelona’s biggest clubs that I didn’t have to participate in a pub crawl to get in (like most hostels will try to make you do). It was another great weekend trip, mingling with locals.
After speaking to more and more people, I realized that I wasn’t the only one that did this. There is a community of people who used Tinder to meet locals who’d be willing to show them around. “It gets rid of the awkwardness of a first date and it creates better conversation, rather than the awkward 'So where are you from?' " says another friend, Peter.
So the positives of Tindravelling (I would like Queen Elizabeth to make this a thing) are that it gives you an opportunity to travel like a local, and meet other friends who are abroad. You can get to see the cities from the perspective of someone who lives there, get solid suggestions on restaurants and shops, and you might even discover hidden sites that you wouldn’t be able to find on your own. Negatives? Well, Tinder is a dating website, so there are those who would be looking for more than just friendship. But I still encourage you to try it at least once. It’s worth it!