Traveling alone is something everyone should experience at least once in his or her lifetime. The exploratory freedom of creating your own adventure is exciting. My most recent trip to Colombia pushed me outside my comfort zone more times in one week than the entire previous year combined.
But, traveling alone can be challenging and lonely.
During the day there are an endless number of options, but nighttime proves to be an intimidating scenario for solo travelers. Trekking alone to the bar is tough even for those with high level of confidence.
Not to fear— the plethora of dating apps available today provides the perfect opportunity for you to meet new interesting people. Here are twelve methods travelers can use online dating while traveling:
1. Find the local dating site. Even if you have to pay.
Before you head out the door, do some research. What’s the most used dating app in this new beautiful city? Register for it— even if you have to pay. Once you sign up, make sure you disable auto-renew or set a reminder to cancel your account.. unless you plan on staying for awhile and running the dating scene at your newfound hotspot. Regardless, give yourself enough time to set up dates before arriving; you don’t want to spend all day staring at your phone setting up potential dates when you could be cruising around the countryside.
2. Use Tinder.
The one exception to the above is Tinder. Tinder is just as popular abroad as it is in the states. From my personal experience, it’s actually easier to set up dates with Tinder abroad. So, as soon as you land, start swiping!
To maximize your potential matches, check out Tools For Tinder. According to a dating review site, the app syncs with Tinder on your phone. You can fake your location, and start getting matches within a few miles of your destination. Matches before landing? Yes, please.
3. Learn the language.
This won’t be as bad as it sounds. You want to apply the 80/20 rule, 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, claims that you should prioritize your learning on a need-basis, followed by items that fit your interests. There are a number of quick ways to efficiently learn a new language, such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. Ferriss claims that it would take 3 months to understand 95% of a language or become conversationally fluent. However, reaching the 98% threshold could take as long as 10 years.
One way to start practicing is to Google “Top 10 expressions in X Language”. Locals will appreciate you making an effort to learn their native tongue.
4. Translate the text.
Say “hola” to Google Translate. It is your new best friend. This powerful tool will allow you to easily navigate the treacherous waters of messaging on online dating sites. But, if you’re a novice in the language, be up-front about it. You won’t be fooling anyone when Google Translate accidentally converts “I’d love to grab coffee!” to “I’d love to massage caffeine beans!”, but at least you will be able to communicate.
5. Skype with as many people as possible.
Skype serves two purposes:
You can practice the language in real-time.
You can break the ice with a potential date and see if they’re worth meeting.
6. Find wifi hotspots.
Why pay for a data plan when you can use the wifi at many restaurants, cafes, hotels and even metro stations. Having an idea where the closest hotspot is located can come in handy when finding and planning dates, or just a quick Tinder swipe session. If you’re crafty, you can kill two birds by organizing your day and meeting up with dates all in the same location. Nothing like multi-tasking.
Coffee is always a safe bet for a first date. As an added bonus, you can stay on a budget by skipping the fancy dinner.
7. No wifi? No problem.
Grab a cheap old-school flip phone before you arrive and load minutes onto it the second you arrive. Your phone will be your gateway to making plans on-the-go. And, if you’re attempting to find a date in a busy shopping mall or park, giving them a ring will be no sweat.
8. Use WhatsApp.
Ready for your mind to be blown? The whole world uses WhatsApp and wants little to do with iMessage. Download WhatsApp, get used to the emojis, and start using their preferred form of communication.
9. Read up on blogs, explore Foursquare, and speak to the locals
Even though you are “the foreigner”, you still need to act like a gentleman by making plans and initiating dates. One method is to jump on a travel blog, such as TripAdvisor.com or Trippy.com. Browse the conversation threads and pose your own question, like “what’s the best place to go out on a date?”.
Another alternative is to download Foursquare. You can browse by cuisine and read the comments to find the perfect atmosphere (and dishes) for you and your date.
If you want to go the more traditional route, just start asking around. If that sounds intimidating, you can always start by asking your concierge at your hotel.
10. Book on AirBnB
AirBnB is often cheaper than a hotel and more comfortable than a hostel. When you take your date out, make sure that you are somewhat near your apartment for obvious reasons. ;)
11. Honesty is the best policy
Use a recent authentic photo for your online dating profile. I’ve seen dates end quite abruptly when the person in the picture in 20 years younger and 50 lbs lighter. Do us all a favor and be honest.
12. Be curious, plan, and step outside your comfort zone.
When you cook with these three ingredients you will get dates, immerse yourself in a wonderful new culture, and bring back a ton of memories.
As Jessica Yurasek says, “Travel will make you appreciate the familiarity of home. It will restore your sense of childlike wonder for what was already there. And when you return, you will remember what it is to truly be alive again.”