Credit: Stephanie Perry
My first Tinder date ever was in Hoi An, Vietnam with a dude from Berlin. We were both on our respective grown up gap years. He was a nice enough guy…no sparks. But he changed my traveling life for the better. And if I hadn’t been such a Tinder-newbie and accidentally unmatched with him, I’d meet up with the German Genius again just to thank him. With strudel or whatever.
Our Tinder date was on his first day in town. He sent me a message asking to meet for lunch. I eat lunch, so it was a yes, obviously. We went to one of my favorite restaurants, had a good meal and rode our bikes to the fun beach (An Bang), not the boring one (Cua Dai). All of the logistics were up to me; he didn’t know anything about Hoi An yet. But by the end of our date, he was totally in the know.
This guy’s plan was BRILLIANT! And I promptly stole his idea. I call it the Tinder Tour.
Now, when I get somewhere new I log onto that precious little app, and I get myself a free tour guide and welcome wagon. Really. I recommend it.
So now I’ve had Tinder Tours in 7 countries and counting.
Most were ok; I haven’t had the “time to change my phone number” moment of truth yet. Just a “Hey, I’m heading to Bali now! Bye-ee” and they drop off easily.
So what’s it like Tindering in different countries?
The Terrible Egyptian Photographer
Budapest was a hit. After I went to the 5 Euro opera solo, I met with a guy from Egypt to check out the city’s lights at night. He was a terrible photographer, but interesting to talk to. I paid for my own drink, but he helped me figure out the tram system that night. And I took this picture. So, success!
Pen Pals in Perth
Australian men were the worst. No, it’s true. I ended up with a collection of Aussie pen pals who chatted with me daily, but never wanted to form a solid plan. That’s 60 days of “Hi. How was ur day?” Lames. Sounds harsh…unless you’ve lived it.
And when you do meet up with your Australian, they talk soooo much. This seems like a weird thing for a solo traveler who uses Tinder to meet people and not be lonely to complain about. But that’s how annoying they are! It’s like they think the accent is winning them points maybe. But beer in Australia is so expensive that it’s worth a busted eardrum if somebody else is buying. Real talk.
The Aussie Exception
I met an Aussie Tinderfella who had lived in Japan for a while. Something about living on a different continent helped him lose his awfulness. We texted an appropriate amount of times, then he totally shunned his upbringing and invited me to meet him live and in person. I love a man with a plan, and man was his plan awesome.
We sang karaoke! This is 1000% serious kudos to him. If the Karaoke Crooner and the German Genius were one man, I’d be married right now. Karaoke is only the best night out for a chick like me who loves good singing, bad singing, beer and more beer. I sang Prince like a boss, and he was only slightly more impressive singing Japanese pop songs in Japanese.
The Crooner’s planning skills were so highly developed that we saw each other (gasp!) more than once. Including a trip to the one grocery store on the Gold Coast that sells sugary American breakfast cereal. Tinder Tour saves the day!
I was 2 hours away. He was willing to drive up for coffee, even though my Tinder profile said almost nothing about me. It’s not e-harmony here. Tinder is some pictures and your geographical location. No way a sane person’s driving 2 hours to meet somebody they’ve never even spoken to. Can you imagine? What if you drove all that way just to find out your date sounds like the priest from The Princess Bride? “Hewo. You arr vewy pwetty.” Nope. This was not a good look, so we stalled out at the part where I ask him what places I should visit instead of meeting up with him. But don’t feel sad. I still get a bi-weekly ”How was ur day?” from the Eager Beaver.
The DJ in Bali
He was cute, but we were unequally yoked: I still had money to blow; he was counting his nickels. I like Netflix and Chill to be an option, not THE option.
Mr. DJ put me on to some good music, but I never truly believed his story. Like maybe he was a fugitive. He said he was Canadian. But as we know, Canadians are the most helpful people in the world. Literally. And I can’t name one time he fit that description. I mean, I helped myself to his booze, but that doesn’t count.
He ended up making me stand him up for our second date. Which is a master-level move one does when one doesn’t want to seem rude, and isn’t sure if the date has a level of crazy that might eff up one’s life since said datee knows where one lives. A quick lesson: 1) Make 2nd date with person you don’t want 2nd date with (the datee), but let them know that day is a busy day for you. 2) Make contact the day of the date to change the time. 3) then change from “I’ll pick you up” to “meet me at __”. 4) Give directions that make the location seem difficult to find, even if it’s not. 5) Advise that you still might be late. Now, you’re date probably cancelled 3 steps ago. If they still agree to meet you, they are actually a lunatic and you are in trouble.
I did end up corresponding with the pseudo-Canadian for a while after I left the island. But Tinder-ships are fleeting. Especially when the Tinderfella is evading justice in a tropical paradise, and you have to go home to get a job.
The City of Light Work
Ok, there’s no need for Tinder in Paris. Men just approach women on the street. She decides if she wanna holla back. The end.
I was in Paris for 4 days. I was called mon cherie and ma jolie approximately 15,000 times. I was bought anise cocktails and invited to “do dancing” without even lifting a finger. Tres bien, Paris!
You might not consider a date at a bar a Tinder Tour, but I met two professional musicians who make their living traveling the world performing live. Since I met up with them in resto-bars that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise, I’m adding them to the list. Side note: These guys were making good money, and their room and board was covered by the establishments. Can anybody give me guitar lessons?
So, how do you get yourself a Tinder Tour Guide?
Well, if you’re reading this from the future, sorry…you’re too late. His Majesty and I have found true happiness together being glamorously philanthropic. And I’m off the circuit. But if it’s still 2017 in your world, I have some tips to make Tinder-dating me (or someone else, if that’s your thing, whatever) smoother.
1. Use Tinder. Duh. But seriously, it’s just a numbers game. Each swipe right is a chance for a match. Remember, you’re just looking for a tour guide. No biggie. Pick somebody you think you’d legit be ok taking a tour with, and put your thumb to work. Tinder is kinda buggy, so make sure they have your location right, or you’ll keep getting matches from your last destination.
2. Ask questions about your new city. Everybody likes to give their opinion. When the opinion comes in the form of free cabernet at the local art gallery’s First Friday Happy Hour, you’ve mastered the Tinder Tour.
3. Double Down. *warning: controversial opinion ahead* I like group dates. Especially when your date is a stranger. Tinder even has a “social” option where groups of people can get together together. There’s safety in numbers.
And in a group some of the pressure’s off. Plus, if you’re disappointed with door #1, you can always try door #2. In Bali, my super-chic Korean hostel mate took me along on her Tinder date. I didn’t mind because all I was gonna do that night was watch Conan O’brien videos on YouTube. And her date didn’t seem to mind that much because I’m awesome. Everybody loves a twofer.
4. Tour dates even work when there’s a language barrier. How much French do you have to know to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower? Nada.
So, single friends, next time you’re in a new place but want a personal tour, give Tinder a try. And let me know how it works out. Don’t feel bad about swiping my idea…I take tips.
Bon voyage mes amis,
Follow Stephanie @vaycarious: Stephanie Perry blogs at Vaycarious.com where she is the Unofficial Ambassador for the Grown Up Gap Year and advocates carpe-ing the diem from a hammock by the beach.
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