13 February, 2019

When Alita Brydon saw the (many) pictures of Machu Picchu on Tinder, it got her off her couch and into solo travel

I was doing what I did every Saturday night; swiping through profile after profile on Tinder. I’d flick through my potential beaus with speed, from the comfort of my grey two-seater couch, a bottle of red by my side and a few chunks of Mersey Valley cheese.

It was the perfect solo night in. I thought I knew what I’d find on Tinder that night – but what I found instead was entirely unexpected.

Peru.

While I flicked through the app, I couldn’t help but notice how many of profile pictures were taken at Machu Picchu, an awe-inspiring Peruvian archaeological site.

There they were, the men of Tinder, squatting in front of the majestic ruins so as to capture as much of the scenery in the frame as possible.

I considered myself well-travelled, and, as per the Australian tradition, I’d collected my Bintang singlet from Kuta as well as sipped on a bucket from Khao San Road. But this was a place totally outside of my stratosphere.

What was it about this destination that had drawn so many people – all of whom were travelling solo in life – off the couch?

How long had the ruins been there? How far away was it? What sort of singlets were available?

The mystery lure of Peru

machu picchu

Machu Picchu is perhaps the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. It’s an almost humbling scene – and even on my smartphone, it felt significant. The ruins of a small lost city, once home to the elite, framed by majestic mountains that sit high in the Peruvian Andes.

The history is compelling. Believed to have been a royal estate or sacred religious site, the site was abandoned due to the fall of the Inca Empire, with its buildings, walls and paths falling into disrepair. Nature slowly took charge of the beautiful remains, until modern day, when the World Heritage Site started undergoing restoration on the city.

It was a mysterious world, shrouded in fog, beyond my Tinder catalogue and Saturday night glass of wine.

Read more: Mr Right and the great Bridget Jones myth

I had a Google, ran my eyes over the text on the screen and felt a fire burning. The mist, the mountains and the sun – an awe-inspiring combination – captured in the tiny pixels in front of me. It looked like something out of a fantastical storybook.

There was also a lot of grass.

It boggled my mind to think of the difficulty of creating such a great architectural work – not to mention the commitment to lawn maintenance. I saw pictures of travellers climbing up the steep stone steps, creeping toward a secret city.

That one looks familiar. I think I swiped right on him.

These were the like-minded people I wanted to share the sunrises with, explore the ruins beside and share bleary-eyed early mornings with.

From Tinder to the real world

Sitting on the couch night after night, swiping away on a dating app can get pretty comfortable when you’re single. I’ve chosen to live a solo lifestyle – and I love every minute. I have freedom, fun and the flexibility to steer my life in the exact direction I want.

It’s a liberating way of life. But I’d always had excuses as to why I’d left the Machu Picchus of the world undiscovered. I had no-one to travel with. I was nervous. I was comfortable with my routine.

Read more: Feeling lonely? Try finding better friends

That night thinking about Machu Picchu something changed, and I decided to break free of the Tinder travel trap.

So how did I do it? Here are my tips:

Swipe across the globe

There’s no need to go cold turkey on Tinder. It’s a great way to facilitate connections, especially when you have a destination in mind. I used features such as Passport To Any Location to match with people across the world, including those taking selfies in Peru. Just make sure your on-screen fun turns into real-life adventures.

Book a trip: 

Stop thinking about it. Get out there and see the world. Solo travel is not as terrifying as you may think – in fact, you’ll meet people and probably make a few new friends. Flash Pack offers adventures designed for solo travellers; and if you were brave enough to eat from that dodgy street vendor in Bangkok, you’re halfway there. I haven’t been to Machu Picchu yet but since I decided to cut back on my Tindering, I’ve conquered two new countries as a solo traveller.

Budgeting is key: 

Think about your spending and where you can rein it in – do you really need your Tinder Gold membership? Didn’t think so. By cutting back on the little luxuries, I found money for travel I didn’t realise I had. Tour providers such as Flash Pack might seem a little pricier than their competitors, but you’ll be staying in premium accommodation with guides who truly care about your experience. You’re worth it!

Read more: Why is eating alone so popular in Japan

Get delivery: 

It’s true – I’m obsessed with food and have spent hours analysing the culinary adventures designed by Flash Pack. My advice? Let your stomach motivate you. I took a browse through what experiences were available – and then tried to emulate the gourmet experience from my couch using a food delivery app. Compare your takeaway meal to the sumptuous feast you’ve seen on screen. The disappointment your stomach feels will motivate you to escape your living room and take a trip.

Since that night on the couch, I’ve been to Thailand and Vietnam on my own, and set up a savings account for my next great solo adventure.

My recommendation to you – from one Tinder addict to another – get off the couch and go find the destination that changes the way you think about the world.


Three great places to free you from the online dating trap

Machu Picchu: a Tinder icon

Inca pathways

Inspired by the countless Tinder users whose profiles feature Machu Picchu? It’s even better off-screen. Magical Peru will introduce you to picturesque cloud forests and crystal clear skies. Cap it all off with a cheeky Pisco Sour and you’ll be swiping right on Peru.

Swipe right

Bali: not what you think

Sure you’ll find your Bintang singlet in beautiful Bali, but when you’re gazing at the sunrise from the summit of a live volcano – or hiking the green hillsides of Ubud – you won’t care what you’re wearing.

Swipe right

Smiles and colour abound in Asia

Vietnam_kayaks_Halong_Bay

Vibrant south-east Asia is the ideal place to kick start your solo trips, with the friendly local faces and epic culinary flavours being more exciting than anything you’ll find on your smartphone.

Swipe right

Images: Unsplash, Flash Pack, Alita Brydon

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