TINDER- It's not just for dating

Online dating isn't only for lonely basement types like we assumed back in the 90's. Apps like Tinder have really changed the game making online meet ups ubiquitous. I personally know of 3 happy millennial couples that met through Tinder. Depending on your intention, it can be a great platform to meet partners or friends all over the world. And it's always good for a laugh.

I've used Tinder off and on for the last 2 years while traveling. My profile makes it clear that I'm NOT looking for a hook-up, and instead hoping to connect with vegans, van lifers, yogis, photographers, etc. I'm open to hitting it off with someone, but that's never my original intention. Honestly, I do feel that the community supports connections of all types, even those with genuinely platonic intentions. 

Yes, yes, I'm aware that using Tinder as a woman is a very different experience than as a man, but plenty of people are just looking to make new friends with like-minded people. There's a YouTube Vlogger @SusiCruz who says she uses Tinder to find showers on the road! To check out her video on living in a van as a woman, click here.

TINDER in NEPAL 

I wanted to volunteer in Nepal but wasn't sure where to look. I'd planned to volunteer for an orphanage until learning of the destructive ramifications and human-trafficking associated with this type of "voluntourism". Nepali orphanages often manipulate poor parents, imprison their children in destitute conditions, and then profit hugely from well-meaning tourists coming to 'help the orphans'. For more information on that issue and why you shouldn't ever volunteer internationally without proper research, click here. 

Once I got to Kathmandu, I opened up Tinder and made a profile mentioning that I was looking to volunteer. Nish and I matched a few days later. We met up for dinner with several other people from his organization, and the next morning we were off to a rural village. I worked with Nish's NGO for 3 months and am personally in touch with many of the people I met through that experience. 

TINDER in NY

When I arrived back in The States, I traveled around Upstate New York staying with friends and family. Upon arriving in Hudson, I was offered an assistant position for the talented video artist Mika Rottenberg. I jumped on the opportunity even though I didn't have anywhere to live. And that's where Tinder saved the day.

Earlier that week, I had matched on Tinder with a local named Greg. He and his roommate invited me over for a dinner on their sheep farm. I replied to his dinner invite saying, YES I would love to come over but that I was also looking for a place to live for a few days. I pitched a tent on their porch and stayed all summer. This was another beautiful Tinder situation where I made friends and connections that I hope last a lifetime. 

TINDER in B.C.

Most recently in B.C., I met up with a fellow artist through Tinder. When telling him about my #vanlife dreams, he mentioned that his friend was selling a converted box truck. The exact thing I was looking for! We ditched our evening plans and drove 1.5 hours to check out the truck. Dylan and I became friends, and I bought the truck. TINDER FOR THE WIN

So when someone swears off social media, or deletes their Facebook, or mocks Tinder- I get it. These platforms can be soul-sucking and driven by egotism BUT they can also link you with amazingly cool people all over the world. I can't imagine ever getting rid of FB because of how much it helps facilitate my travels. It's also a perfect way to stay in touch with friends I make on the road. As for Tinder, I use it with varying frequency but certainly find is fun and useful when showing up in a new city.

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