Traveling around the world? Tinder can help you meet people. Obviously. But its easy intimacy can also help plug you into adventure. Here's how it worked for us, along with some of the people we met through it during our travels.
I arrived in Oslo, Norway from Copenhagen via bus on a cold, stormy September night. The city was dark and dreary, but a fire would keep me warm that night. Like most good fires, it started with Tinder.
Disclaimer: I don't actually use Tinder. I use a third-party app called 6tin that was created by Rudy Huyn, a developer who has single-handedly kept the Windows Phone platform alive with his ports of Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Dropbox, and Tinder.
Her name was Randi.
Randi is a Norwegian girl who recently graduated from florists' school. Her arrangements are beautiful. And we met through the dating app that's taken not just America — but as I discovered, the world — by storm.
Norway is incredibly expensive. It's actually the most expensive country in the world. A dorm-style hostel in Oslo runs $60 a night. As such, it's no place for a jobless adventure traveler to hang out. At least for very long. So, I took to the woods and wild-camped just fifteen minutes outside of the city.
Upon my return to civilization, I discovered a message from Randi. We had matched and were chatting a few days earlier, before I went off the grid. "Do you not want to meet?"
"Of course I want to meet!"
So, she gave me public transit directions to her neighborhood and we met on the corner of a busy street. I was trying to find my bearings when she approached me. Guess I didn't look like too much of a creeper. We were starving; turns out we both loved Thai food, so we dropped into a nearby restaurant that was actually halfway affordable.
Randi and I had a lot in common: photography, a love for travel, and an openness to the world which was notably marked by our meeting. Talk of travel led to the topic of Couchsurfing. I knew the concept, but Randi was a member of the site.
"Are you inviting us to surf on your couch?" Daniel would arrive the next day; the idea of dropping another $120 to sleep on bunk beds — only to catch a 6am train to Bergen did not sound appealing.
"Awesome! See you tomorrow!"
This was the first and last home cooked meal we had for awhile. The coffee table was covered in photos that Randi had taken during her travels.
Daniel arrived in Oslo from LA the next day; as planned we lugged our 65 lb packs onto the bus and went to Randi's flat. She opened the door and we were greeted with the pleasant aroma of a homecooked meal. Randi had prepared an authentic Norwegian dish for us, called "Fiskeboller." Basically, balls of fish, served with potatoes and gravy. It was freaking delicious. Especially compared to the freeze-dried backpacking meals we'd be eating for the next month.
Conversation was lively and full of stories of travel, aspirations, and life.
Not only was Randi into traveling and photography — and an excellent cook — but like many Norwegians, she was also an avid camper. And she had already set up cots and sleeping bags for us in her spare room. Awesome.
Daniel and I made our way to Trolltunga the next morning, but Randi and I still keep in touch. She's currently planning a trip to Morocco to escape Norway's winter.
Enter Iceland. Daniel's turn.
Daniel matched with and met Krista — the manager of Reykjavik's most popular coffee shop. Bet you can see where this one is going.
Krista was really cool and taught us about living in Reykjavik. She also made the best hot cocoa in all of Iceland (and not just because it was free!). Turns out I'm famous in the land of fire and ice too, because she knew all about my cat camping trip with Finch. Small world.
During my last week on the island, I met a Nepali girl who was finishing her Masters there. Priyanka connected us with her cousin in Kathmandu, a white water guide. We met Himal our first day in Nepal; he introduced us to his friends at Himalayan Ecstasy. A climb was on.
Nepal actually has a pretty solid cellular network for a developing country (compliments of Ncell — yep, I have a Nepali number!) but I don't think that Tinder has caught fire yet, because even in the city my screen usually looks like this:
You can occasionally find the weird hippie though.
If Nepal was a desert for potential matches, then Thailand was an oasis. Beware though, the rule of thumb here is "if she looks too good to be true, then she probably is." Most of the ladyboys have disclaimers on their profiles, however.
On our first day in Thailand, we met Bee, who is a "real woman."
Bee took us to her family's restaurant, where we had the most amazing Thai food. She ordered us a handful of her favorites, things that we never would have thought to order on our own.
Blasting rival village warriors with a canon? If real life played out like the game, I would've died. Three times. Orey blasted them all away, however. First try.
Next, we hit up a contemporary cultural museum where we got a brief and interactive overview of everything Thai.
After that, we drank Coca Cola out of bags while walking to a Buddhist temple to catch a golden sunset view.
Then, Bee took us to eat "the best Pad Thai in Bangkok" at a restaurant called Thipsamai. It was basically street food with an indoor seating area; best known for its egg-wrapped Pad Thai and fresh-squeezed orange juice. We waited in line for 20 minutes just to get a table, but our food was worth the wait — it was the best Pad Thai I'd ever eaten.
Finally, we were off to Mon Nom Sod, a super popular dessert spot that served slices of Texas Toast drenched in sweetened condensed milk, chocolate sauce, and some sweet, green stuff. The place was packed to the brim with families and young people alike, but as soon as I walked in a guy turned around, spotted me, and exclaimed, "Hey, I know you! You're Chris Brinlee!" Turns out that he was Nepali and working in Bangkok; had been following along with our journey here on Gizmodo. Small world.
We couldn't have had a more awesome, fun, or cultural day and that was the case everywhere we went. All because we met really cool people through Tinder. Who knows, maybe I'll swipe right to the love of my life. Or maybe I already have.
About the Author: Chris Brinlee Jr. is an adventure photographer and filmmaker who is currently traveling around the world. Follow his journey on Instagram: @chrisbrinleejr. He's too much of a gentleman to kiss and tell.
Photos: Daniel Bruce Lee, Chris Brinlee, Jr.
IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.