With apps like Tripr, Happn, Backpackr and Beer, Tinder is dead - to the solo traveller

There has never been a better time to be a solo traveller, especially a solo traveller looking for romance.

No one needs to be lonely in the age of Tinder.

I was recently in Tokyo with two single female companions who were naturally keen to try Tokyo's dazzling nightlife. While I was doing old-fashioned things, such as asking the concierge and researching bars on the internet, they were scanning various social networking sites to make contacts and dates.

They were toying with Tinder, the dating app that claims to have made over 20 billion matches in 196 countries. Tinder 101: users create a profile, including nominating a gender (there are now 37 gender options) and the gender they want to match with (a male may wish to match with a "trans woman", for instance) and other options such as age range and the proximity they wish to search.

Tinder identifies suitable prospects. If the person looks appealing from their profile and photos, the user swipes right or taps on the heart on screen. (To reject, swipe left.) For a match to be made, both parties need to swipe right on each other's profiles. Tinder sends notification when this happens and a link to communicate through the chat function.

Swiping, matching and hooking up can happen very quickly so, if you land in a foreign city in the evening, you could be having a drink with your date less than two hours later. Tinder, I should point out, is more about what happens after that drink. There's a fairly strong expectation the match will involve sex.

I'm antiquated enough to question the safety of this modern way of hooking up. Tinder, and Grindr for the gay community, can be a boon for sexual predators, who hide behind their social media profile. New Zealand tourist Warriena Wright fell mysteriously to her death from Gable Tostee's Gold Coast apartment during a Tinder date. Although Tostee was recently acquitted of murder, the case points to inherent dangers in easy intimacy based on a digital profile alone.

Still, as Tinder users will point out, many unfortunate men and women have lost their lives going home with the wrong person on a traditional kind of date.

If you're looking for companionship of a non-sexual kind there are dozens of apps designed to facilitate the introduction to strangers while travelling. The popular Tripr app allows you to post a personal profile along with your travel itinerary, so that you can find a match with like-minded people in that destination.


Hinge matches you only with people in your existing social networks, such as Facebook. Tastebuds connects you to people with the same taste in music. Happn matches you with people you've physically crossed paths with during the day. Chatous finds people by the subjects that interest them, tracking the hashtags they commonly use. #Glimpse uses Instagram feeds to make matches.

Backpackr is obvious, as is Party With A Local. Beer finds you someone who'll take you out for a beer. Or would like you to take them out for a beer.

Unless this seems like it's just a Millennial thing, there's a social app called Stitch for 'mature adults' (over 50s) seeking dates and travel companions. 

Then there's Raya. Launched last March by a 35 year-old PR guy in Los Angeles, this hook up app has a 'curated' membership of artists, models, photographers and movie stars. The applicants are chosen by an anonymous committee, based on their fame, hotness and Instagram influence.

I have a friend who is a member of Raya and she tells me one of Australia's biggest movie stars (who is single) and one of Australia's most famous sportsmen (ditto) have profiles on the app. Members see it as a safe space to hook up within their own elite club - they'll get kicked off the site if they're found to be sharing other member's photos or details.

Back in Tokyo, while my friends were perusing Tinder in a tiny Naka-meguro bar, they discovered the bar owner was scanning the app at the same time. In Tokyo, many young people have problems with intimacy and are socially awkward, so Tinder is a way to navigate the terrifying world of dating.

No more looking for love in all the wrong places, when every place is potentially right.

In the end, my friends didn't need Tinder this trip. Instead, they met locals through connections with real-life acquaintances and business associates.

The old-fashioned way.