Picture this: You’re traveling in an unfamiliar country and decide you want to live like a local for the duration of your trip.
The next thing you know, an attractive, charming local is showing you where the hottest spots, most picturesque scenery, and the best food are. You’re having the time of your life—and in a country where you didn’t know a single soul (until now—that is).
It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: It doesn’t have to be.
Enter online dating apps.
The next time you book a solo trip (or one with friends) and want a charming local tour guide, just open up a dating app. You know, like Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, Bumble, eHarmony, or Match—whichever one you think is the best. Then, update the location to match your current city, and start swiping (or whatever your preferred matchmaking method is).
If your app of choice is Tinder, you can upgrade to Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold and use the Passport feature to match with locals and strike up a conversation. You can wait until you arrive at your destination to do this, or you can upgrade in advance of your trip and establish an acquaintanceship or friendship prior to embarking on your travels. If you’re not looking for local hookups, it’s a good idea to include that in your bio and let matches know that you’re just visiting.
And if you are—hey, have fun! But don’t forget to be smart about it, either.
Once you arrive, you can meet up with as many or as few people as you’d like. Do exercise the same level of caution as you would at home, though, because, let’s be real…there are creeps and scammers everywhere. Meet in a public place, and if you have a travel companion with you (or you’ve met someone at the hostel you’re staying at, for example) bring them with you for added security.
And if you don’t feel comfortable meeting someone in person? You, too, can still avail of this untapped potential. Whenever you get a match and someone initiates a conversation, let the other person know that you’re just visiting and ask for recommendations for fun things you can do or see during your visit. This way, you’ll still get great recommendations from locals, but you won’t have to worry about possibly putting your safety at risk or having to endure the world’s most boring meetup ever.
Whether your next trip is a solo adventure or one with friends, don’t discount using dating apps as a great way to meet locals. And who knows—you might make a friend who you continue to keep in touch with and visit for years to come. How awesome would that be?