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Solo Traveling: To Tinder or Not to Tinder?

Solo Traveling: To Tinder or Not to Tinder?

When I travel, I make every effort to get my eyes off my phone in order to actually experience what’s around me.  What a concept, right?  But with increasingly accessible data and wifi around the globe, it can be tough to meet the people standing around you when everyone is too worried about checking their Instagram feeds or Snapchats.  When you’re traveling alone, this can be especially challenging, as meeting new people is often one of the best advantages to traveling alone, but can be quite difficult to manage.  Sigh.  There’s nothing we can do to change this in our current social media and selfie-obsessed culture, right?  Wrong!

On a recent trip to Visby, Sweden, I decided to try to give the “if you can’t beat them, join them” mentality a go.  I got myself on Tinder, and I started swiping in an effort to find someone that I could meet that didn’t massively creep me out.  I felt that Visby was a pretty great place to do this for a couple of reasons; the city/town of Visby is so tiny and it seems like everyone knows everyone, which is a pretty comforting feeling.  Visby is also an incredibly safe and cosy city, so the risk didn’t seem as great as it might be in other, bigger cities.

I ended up talking to someone via the chat function the first night I was there, and we agreed to meet for a drink the next day at a pub right off the the central town square.  Even before I met my Tinder friend in person, he was surprisingly helpful by giving me ideas of things to do in Gotland while I was there.  I actually received a lot of great tips from people I ended up not even meeting with, which goes to show the friendly and helpful nature of the beautiful people in that city, and how useful Tinder can be in other areas, as well.

Anyway, after an incredibly long day of site-seeing (I walked nearly 40 miles while I was in Gotland!), I met with Charles (Tinder friend) to try the local Visby beer at a small Irish pub.  We spent a few hours in the pub talking over some great beer- it was really a nice and unexpected experience.  We talked about politics, current events, Swedish/American/Czech/British/French cultures (there was a lot of experience to draw on from both sides), language, and about this beautiful town of Visby with which I’d already fallen in love.  This is exactly the kind of meeting I hope for every time I travel, and I’m not always so lucky to find it given that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to meet people.  I think that in those few hours I learned as much about Visby as I had while walking all over the city for hours over the course of three days.  I felt more connected to the people and the culture of this place as a result of this exchange with a local Visbian (if it wasn’t a thing, it is now).

After a couple of beers, we decided to take a walk around part of the old city, which was an equally interesting and engaging experience.  I had already walked down almost every passable street earlier in the day, and had spent an unimaginable amount of time staring at the beautiful architecture, but it was a very different experience walking around with a local in the evening.  We walked to one of the many ruined cathedrals in the town and stood admiring the architecture and view for quite a while.  I found it so interesting that Charles mentioned on multiple occasions that he hadn’t stopped to look at some of the things that I’d become so infatuated with in the city- I guess this may work both ways!  His comments to that effect also demonstrated to me how easy it is for me to do the same in my home environment.  While I recognize that I’m in an incredible unique and fortunate situation to have a view of Prague Castle from my office window, I can’t help but think how many times I blew through the beautiful country roads near my hometown in New York without admiring the natural beauty of the region.


I digress; walking through these streets in Visby for what seemed like the hundredth time that day was actually one of the best walks I had through the city that week.  Walking through a city, any city, and having the opportunity to look at it through someone else’s eyes is an incredible experience, and one that will likely teach you even more than you thought possible about your perceptions, as well as the city itself.

So, for the result of my experiment: I vote yes to Tinder While Traveling.  I think that it’s an interesting way to meet new people, especially local people, and can be a great cultural immersion tool.  With that being said, I think it’s incredibly important to “Tinder safely”, as it’s obviously necessary to be safe and smart while meeting any strangers while traveling.  Make sure that you only meet with someone in a very public place, and also be sure to tell someone else where you’ll be, even if they’re out of the city/country.  I think it’s also good to recognize that it’s absolutely fine to use Tinder for non-romantic purposes as I did in Visby!  Tinder can be a great resource for meeting new people while out traveling in this ever-increasingly digital atmosphere where it’s hard to even make eye contact with a real human.


Tinder and travel safely, my friends!



Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Sweden


Where to stay: Stockholm is a beautiful and vibrant city with a ton of different types of neighborhoods to choose from.  Gamla Stan, the Old Town, is one of the most prestigious places to live in the entire country, so naturally, staying there as a tourist will cost you a pretty penny.  I opted to stay in the neighborhood called Sodermalm, which is on the island south of Gamla Stan, but along the same metro line.  I found this area to be bustling with chic bars and great restaurants, as well as plenty of boutique shops that didn’t make you feel like you were walking and breathing tourism every minute of the day.  Add to the fact that some of the best views in the city are on this island, and I’d say this is the place to be if you really want to experience all that Stockholm has to offer, and not just the touristy old town.

Hostels have weird policies in much of Sweden, which often include a requirement to bring your own linens and towels.  It may not seem like such a big deal, but when you have to pay upwards of $30 or $40 USD per night for the privilege of staying in a shared room, I believe that you should have a sheet on your mattress that you didn’t have to bring with you.  Because of this, I opted to stay in an Airbnb since I was able to find one to split with my friend that worked out to roughly the same price as a dorm room in a hostel (here).

Where to eat: There are a ton of great restaurants of almost all cuisines in Stockholm, so the trick is just finding the ones that look most interesting!  Unfortunately, nothing in Stockholm is super cheap, but there are certainly options off the beaten tourist path that are less expensive than in the old town near the attractions.  For example, try visiting Lisa’s Cafe in Sodermalm.  It’s an adorable little café where it’s clear that the servers know everyone who walks through the door, or will by the time the customer leaves.  Eating breakfast at Lisa’s feels like eating in your grandmother’s kitchen- warm, cosy, and friendly; the perfect way to start the day!


I recommend visiting the Nya Carnegie Bryggeriet, a brewery in a suburb accessible by tram, bus, or ferry.  I especially recommend visiting for lunch, as they have excellent lunch specials (and beer) that aren’t too expensive.  The neighborhood where the brewery is is also really nice to walk around- it’s clearly in a more modern part of the city, so if you have some extra time, it’s worth a wander.  If you’re looking for something distinctly not Swedish, I have two recommendations that came on good authority from locals.  First, The Holy Cow, is a great Indian restaurant located in Sodermalm with relatively inexpensive food and a great atmosphere.  While it isn’t exactly local cuisine, it is clearly a local “spot”, which counts for something!  Secondly, I recommend a restaurant called Moso Jamrock.  Also located in Sodermalm, but slightly closer to Old Town, this is an excellent Caribbean-style restaurant with delicious food and staff that are incredibly friendly and welcoming.

There are also some cultural food traditions in Sweden, which I really think we should all respect.  My favorite of these traditions is something called “Fika”, which is essentially a mid-day break to have coffee and a pastry.  You’ll find Fika menus and special pricing all over the city, and when you can no longer feel your hands because of the cold, you’ll find that it will always be a good life choice.

For more food and food tour recommendations, check out Passion for Hospitality’s post!

What to do: Stockholm is a really incredible city to explore at any time of year.  Of course, visiting in the summer gives you certain advantages, as some sites and attractions are only open or have extended hours between May and August.  If there’s something specific you want to see in Stockholm outside of the summer months, you should definitely do some research to see if it’ll be open when you’re there, otherwise you might be sorely disappointed.  If you’re just visiting Stockholm to take in its history, beauty, and culture, you’ll have plenty to see all year round!


Start by taking a walk in Montelilsvagen, which is a path above the water across from Gamla Stan (old town).  This path will give you absolutely INCREDIBLE views of the city (above), and is a great way to take in the atmosphere and architecture before heading over to the tiny streets of the old city.  If you’re looking for the opposite view, head over to Riddarholmen, which is a small island connected to Gamla Stan.  You’ll find a gorgeous cathedral, interesting food trucks, and a beautiful waterfront on this island.  I found that sitting and looking at the brick facade of city hall from Riddarholmen was one of my favorite places to be in the city.


To orient yourself to the city, try a free walking tour of Gamla Stan with Stockholm Free Tour.  There is so much history packed into those little streets, and so many ways to get lost, it’s really nice to have a guide giving you some ideas and suggestions for what to visit later.  This company also offers tours of the more modern part of the city, so if you’re more interested in the current culture and architecture, you can check that out, too!

If you’re going to visit one museum in Stockholm, and there are many to choose from, I would definitely recommend visiting The Royal Palace.  This is the former residence of the Swedish royal family, but is still used for visitors, and is a central landmark in the middle of the city.  The great thing about a ticket to see the Royal Palace is that it will also give you access to the Treasury, where the crown jewels are now kept, which is a cool place to check out.  Keep in mind that if there are royal visitors in town, access to the inside of the palace will be limited, so if that’s important to you, be sure to check their website in advance.  If you have some time to get outside the city, you can also visit Drottningholm Palace, where the royal family currently resides.

And last but not least, if you’re looking to splurge and spoil yourself, you can have a Swedish spa experience!  The spa at the Grand Hotel (across the water from the Royal Palace) is absolutely incredible, and while it is a bit pricey, it’s worth every penny.

Overall Opinion: Stockholm is a truly incredible city with a rich history and beautiful culture.  Despite its notoriously chilly weather and dark winter days, you’ll likely find that the city is one of the warmest and coziest that you’ll visit.  Even though there is often more to do in the summer months when there’s plenty of daylight and warmth, there are also far more tourists during these months than there are between September and April.  Visiting Stockholm anytime through October will give you the opportunity to experience beautiful fall weather, empty streets, and an incredible atmosphere, so don’t be afraid of heading to Sweden after the summer ends!  I would absolutely visit Stockholm again, it’s really an amazing place to be.