Ever found yourself stranded in a foreign country with nothing but your smartphone? Time to swipe for a local guide!
What is Sightmatching? Should you try it?
- The latest term which you need to add to your dating vocabulary is "sightmatching" (sightseeing + matching)
- You're traveling and looking for company? Trust this advice: dating apps are the best way to get to the places you want to explore. Log in to your favorite dating app on your next travel and recruit some local guides - it works!
Are Dating Apps just for dates? Au contraire, mon frère! uraaei's resident dating expert, Celia Schweyer, has recently found out that dating apps are the ideal recruiting tools for local guides when you're traveling the world.
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How I started Sightmatching
I don't mind traveling alone. It gives me the possibility to go anywhere I want to go without having to compromise. Most of the times, in the past, I was well guided by numerous Pinterest posts, Facebook groups, and people I met along the way or in hostels. But during my last trip to Guadeloupe, a Caribbean Island, part of the Lesser Antilles and an overseas region of France, it was nearly impossible to find other people to meet with - there were no English-speaking Facebook groups, no hostels (I stayed in an Airbnb), and I did not have a car. That left me with vague ideas of which places to explore, but a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to get there.
Then I got the idea while sitting on the balcony and having a drink: Let's try Tinder!
First things first, my profile needed an update. Mainly the profile text, which was written for "regular" matching at home. I thought it would be the best strategy to keep things fair and let the guys know I was just a traveler looking for people who could show me around. Yet, I did not state a clear "no" about other things right in the bio. After all, if I met a really nice guy, I wouldn't say no to a little holiday fling.
The final profile text read:
Next step was to update my profile pictures and include one I had just taken earlier that same day at the beach. Ready, set, go!
Swipe for Local Guides
Would there be guys I like on Guadeloupe? Because, let's set things straight: Even though my main focus was finding guys who would take me to cool places, the primary criterion was still that I would've also most likely swiped right on them at home. Why? Because clearly, I wasn't keen on spending probably hours of time with someone who does not appeal to me. So:
- No profiles that had only one picture and little other info
- No profiles with only French text (okay, that's an obvious one as my French is somewhat limited)
- No profiles saying anything about hookups, ONS or other sexually related interests
- And lastly, yes, I only swiped right on guys that appealed optically to me
To my surprise, the number of guys I wanted to match with was bigger than expected. When I'm at home, I sometimes spend 5 minutes of straight left-swiping before closing the app in deep frustration. But here, I had already found two guys for the "right stack" within the first seconds. One was an immediate match, from the other one I got the match notification a few hours later. When I got the first texts, I knew my plan would work.
My Sightmatching Successes
Martin looked very handsome on his pictures - blonde & tall. Also, he delivered the right kind of humor through them. He had one on which he was sitting in a monkey-like position under a waterfall and grinning like a little boy. Another one showed him during a hike and another one at work. Enough to convince me to swipe right. And whoops - we had a match.
He texted me a few seconds later, and I found out that he was working in a hospital and had moved here from France a year ago. Everything he wrote seemed nice and cool, and after a short while he asked:
"Do you have time tomorrow? I can show you the Soufrière!"
The Soufrière is a volcano and the highest mountain of the Lesser Antilles - and was indeed on my Pinterest-crafted to-do-list. So, of course, I said yes. He already had texted me that he wouldn't have time the whole day, so it was pretty clear that this wasn't going to be a "date." Martin was a bit late because he had picked up a (male) friend of him who would join us.
The hike itself was as amazing as exhausting. We made it to the top within roughly two hours and standing there gazing inside the crater was almost magical. On our way down, minutes before being back at the car, I stumbled and fell, scratching my legs and arms open and nearly lost a tooth. Martin (the doctor) had to leave, and his friend helped me find a pharmacy. Afterward, we had some delicious street food, and he had to take the same bus back. Too bad he was eight years younger than me. Martin and I never texted or met again.
Another guy I met during this holiday was Alex. He suggested quickly to show me "a beautiful river," or better, one of the amazing rainforest cascades. Of course, I was excited about that! He looked pretty good and also picked me up from my Airbnb the next day.
We drove for about half an hour until we reached a rather obscure parking lot in front of an ancient house. Right behind it, there was a tiny pathway leading directly into the rainforest. Walking further, you could not call it a path anymore - the only way to get forward was to climb over fallen trees, using lianas and trying not to sink into giant puddles of mud. It took us about 20 min of hiking before we reached the "Saut de la Lézarde," and boy, what a fantastic place!
You know those ponds in the middle of a tropical nowhere. That's where he took me. Too bad he claimed he had a cold and couldn't go swimming with me. Well, but I did. And I jumped down the 39ft waterfall. He was kind pretty impressed about that. Also, he brought along some weed. Quite a setting: Smoking a joint in the middle of the rainforest after having conquered a waterfall, not bad for one afternoon. Ah, and similar with the species of "Insta Boyfriends," there's the "Insta Tinder guy." He did an okay job, right? Afterward, he also drove me home, we listened to some music, but only exchanged a few texts over the next days.
Jonathan (he insisted it's pronounced the English and not the French way, though he was entirely French) was a truly handsome lad. He reminded me a bit of a teenage crush I had when I was 16. We started texting one evening, and he said he was bored and didn't know what to do. He asked if I'd be up for a drink. After learning I didn't have a car, he suggested to pick me up at my Airbnb to which I agreed.
We connected very well while driving. Though he had mentioned bars and the marina, I soon found myself buying some beer with him and driving a few kilometers to a little beach. It was already pretty dark outside.
But nothing like you'd expect happened that evening. We ended up just drinking the beer, one can each, and chatting about the place, which was truly beautiful. But when he drove me home, he suddenly asked: "Do you like adventures?" Sure, he meant sex. Well, though he was cool, I didn't feel it that night, so I replied with a plain "Not on a first date", and he let it be and brought me home safely.
He kept texting me, and a few days later, we met again. Drove to a different beach, drank some wine, listened to some music and... well let's just say it was a lot of fun but kind of uncomfortable (physically). Trust me on this: complete darkness and leaning against a dirty mangrove tree only inches away from the water isn't keeping up with the romantic idea of seaside lovemaking.
He kept texting me even afterward, which got a little awkward when he demanded me to tell him if and how much I liked "it." Yet, no regrets.
We texted and found out that we were going to the same place the upcoming day. Yep, for some places, I didn't NEED a guy as there is still public transport in Guadeloupe, but it was a welcoming surprise not having to spend the day alone on my own. We met, had lunch and a whole lot of Rum, and went swimming and snorkeling at the "Plage de la Perle." Though nothing else happened, we're still texting until this day.
He was also a tourist and had the same activity in his to-do-List: A day cruise to a small group of islands belonging to Guadeloupe. We met on the boat, had drinks and a good time during the day. After the boat returned, we went for some more drinks. We had a little goodnight kiss, which was very sweet.
Well, there must be one, right? His name was Romain. He works as a chef in a club hotel and really wanted to meet me. First, he told me he was going to have two days off the next week and that he wanted to spend them with me. Well? He got a bit clearer about that over the next messages. "I just plan to sleep at your apartment. Haha." Had to tell him "no."
Is Sightmatching for you?
"So, you're suggesting to hop into strangers' cars and let them drive you god-knows-where?" - Well, that makes it sound bad, doesn't it? I'd recommend this trend only to confident travelers who have had experiences with "regular" dating in the past. When you're at home, you also need a good sense of people before committing to meet a stranger from an online dating site or app, right? When abroad, you need to apply this as well. Don't meet with people you're unsure about, don't get into his or her car if they're giving you a wrong vibe. Likewise, when your match shows you a cool place and expects "something" in return, but you're not into it, give them a clear "no!" and don't feel guilty about it.
Is it any different to dating at home in terms of meeting with a stranger?
Well, yes. You don't know the area, and most likely, you don't have an "exit strategy" - like pretending your best friend has an "emergency" and "needs your help." Also, given the basic idea of sightmatching, you don't necessarily want to end up in bed (or beach :) ) with your matches. Make it clear up front that you're mainly looking for a travel buddy and rely on your inner voice. But after all, if you want to get romantically involved with one of your matches - why not? You're on holiday!
Sightmatching Pros & Cons
So, here are my final pros and cons for this dating trend:
- You'll get to see places you most likely wouldn't have discovered on your own
- You're not alone during your solo travels. Also, free rides! (possibly)
- Good chance of making new friends and lots of fun
- No need for commitment, a holiday doesn't normally last very long
- Only for experienced daters with a good sense of people
- Texting and meeting with multiple people during a short period can add unnecessary stress to your holiday
- Like at home, you might run into dorks
- Might not work everywhere or you can't find people willing to be your personal guide
For me, sightmatching was an overall great experience, and I'll definitely try it again next time when I'm abroad. I surely would not have made it to the Volcano or jumped down a waterfall if it wasn't for the two guys described earlier. The others were a great company too. Thanks, Tinder!