Launching today, a new app called OfftheGrid aims to bring a Tinder-like experience to the travel market by having its users swipe and chat with like-minded travelers while discovering unique places to visit. The app gives users a way to share photos and videos of their travels, post information about an upcoming trip, arrange meetings with others, and learn about new travel destinations.
What’s most notable is the Tinder-like feature in the Discover tab, which allows users to vote on photos from people around the world by swiping left or right, similar to matches.
After catching the travel bug, 25-year-old Ethan Cerbantes founded the startup to create a niche social platform where travelers can connect and easily find new experiences.
Social media has transformed the way we travel, and millennials consumed by a passion for travel often turn to Instagram for inspiration. Tourist agency Arrivia surveyed over 2,000 Americans between December 2021 and January 2022 and found that 60% of Gen Z and 40% of millennials use social media for vacation ideas, for example.
However, browsing the Internet for destinations can be time-consuming, the founder noted. While Instagram was where everyone shared vacation spots, Cerbantes said the places he scrolled through on the platform didn’t have enough information for people who actually wanted to travel there. It also doesn’t help that you have to scroll past selfies and other posts that have nothing to do with the area.
Based on her own travel experiences, Cerbantes also realizes that it can be difficult to meet new people as a solo traveler. Travel booking platform Gossip found that 49% of respondents were worried about traveling alone because they didn’t want to be alone in a foreign place.
With a team of six other people, Cerbantes designed OfftheGrid to “address the fragmented travel planning process and problems of solo travelers,” Cerbantes told TechCrunch.
OfftheGrid aims to be a platform for travelers to connect with each other and share their experiences. Users can post their photos and videos on the app’s main homepage and see posts from travelers they follow.
Travello, another social networking app designed for travelers, works in a similar way. However, OfftheGrid has a swipe feature where users swipe left or right on a person’s post, whether it’s a photo of a beach, a mountain, or maybe a nice park. Users can like, comment and favorite a photo to view later using the bookmark icon.
But there’s a catch: once a user sees a photo of a place they’re interested in, they need to have 10 coins in the app to reveal the information. For each swipe they earn one coin. Once unlocked, there will be a description and a map where you can see where in the world the destination is.
There are also options to watch video ad to earn the coins for free or buy coins. Users can pay $0.99 for 100 coins, $1.99 for 300 coins and $4.99 for 600 coins.
Meanwhile, the app’s Trips section allows users to meet other travelers. People post where they’re traveling and how long they’ll be there, then others contact them to offer advice or set up a meeting. There is a limit to how many people you can message per day. After talking to three people, the traveler must again use coins to talk to additional people.
Of course, it is important that travelers are safe when going to foreign places. While it can be fun to socialize with new people, you should also be careful about meeting strangers.
“Safety is our top priority,” Cerbantes said.
For starters, the app allows users to verify their email, phone number and Facebook account. At the startup, OfftheGrid doesn’t have a system to verify profile photos, but Serbantes said the startup is working on implementing a photo identification API. OfftheGrid also plans to launch a blue tick system for verified profiles.
However, as dating apps have shown, what users really need are background checks – which is why Match Group started integrated the option this year into its applications, like Tinder, after horrific stories of violence, stalking and assault began to emerge from its users. OfftheGrid does not include such a feature, so travelers will have to be careful who they talk to and choose to meet.
OfftheGrid also has an Explore tab — a discovery tool for interacting with a map that has the most liked and up-to-date content in the app. There is a search option if users want to jump to a specific location and filters such as “Wildlife”, “Parks/Trails”, “Shopping”, “Museums/Galleries” and “Food”.
OfftheGrid is a initial startupwhich means that the company is self-financed and does not rely on investors and external sources.
Serbantes said the company has many plans for the app in the future. This includes a subscription model that allows subscribers to unlock photos and connect with as many people as they want. An organization feature is also being developed that allows users to plan a route based on photos they have liked in the app.
Another feature offered in the app is a Locals tab in the Travel tab so users can find people in the area to connect with.
Serbantes mentioned that OfftheGrid will host monthly photo contests in the future. The photos with the most likes and correctly geotagged will win. The details of the awards have not yet been decided.