I found the cure for my travel bug in a very weird place: Tinder Social

Everyone jokes about catching the travel bug after they travel to a truly spectacular place for the first time.

This last weekend I found that Tinder Social, the dating app’s feature released stateside in July, which allows members to form groups and find other groups to go out with, satisfied that travel bug in a way I wasn’t expecting.

As a 21-year-old who’s spent some time abroad, I constantly have that itch to book a flight to some far away place. Visiting new places, experiencing new cultures and trying new foods is amazing. But my favourite thing about travelling? How easy it is to meet new people.

This last winter while I was travelling solo in Guangzhou, China, I was sitting in the lobby of my hostel to use the wifi when a Norwegian couple sat down to ask me for directions. And, just like that, I had people to explore the city with. I ended up spending the better part of the next 48 hours going around Guangzhou with them and a Dutch woman.

Tinder Social duplicated the best part of that experience, and I never had to leave New York City.

Not a date…unless you want it to be

Tinder gets a bad rap. I’ve personally had terrible experiences the few times I’ve actually met up with someone from the app.

But this last weekend one of my closest friends from my hometown was visiting me in New York City. It was Friday night and we wanted to go out. I’m new to the city and haven’t really taken part in the night scene, so we joked about using Tinder Social to find people to go out with.

The next thing you know, we created a group in-app and were swiping right on other groups interested in going out that popped up on our screen.

We exchanged messages with a few people and then committed to hanging out with two guys who wanted to take night pictures down by the East River.

When we met up, everyone admitted that this was the first time they had used the new social feature. We then joked about past Tinder dates, how awful or weird they had been, except for one of the boys who said he had used Tinder as more of a networking tool or to find models for his photography work. But that’s another story.

We spent the better part of the next 48 hours exploring New York City with these two guys who were literally strangers before we matched with them on Tinder Social. It was an insanely fun.

The thing about Tinder Social is it doesn’t have to be or feel like a date if you don’t want it too. If it turns into that, you get to determine whose chemistry actually matches whose better in-person, instead of being stuck with that one person you swiped right with on Tinder.

I do think keeping the group small was a part of what made our Tinder Social experience so successful, as it was easy for all of us to get to know one another and maintain a group conversation.

And I think it helped that we didn’t meet up at a bar, so that everyone got to know one another at least a little bit before we decided to keep hanging out.

Tinder was also smart to take a page out of another dating app’s playbook in its design of Tinder Social.

In Bumble, if a user messages a match and he or she don’t respond within 24 hours, the two unmatch.

Tinder Social is even more intense. Even if you do match and start messaging, your Tinder Social group expires the next day. You’re still able to swipe and match with people who were in your group match individually, but I think this disappearing feature demands immediate action and possibly prompts a higher ratio of people to actually meet up.

None of us came in with expectations of what that night would turn into, but as we were saying goodbye on Sunday, one of us joked that the friendships we had made using an app were a one in a million chance.

I’m not so sure.

If it’s that easy to meet people while travelling, why can’t it be that easy using a group dating app?

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