A new mobile app designed for travelers combines the wanderlust- and envy-inducing qualities of Instagram vacation pics with the helpfulness of an online map and the judginess of Tinder swiping.
Called OfftheGrid, the app, which launched earlier this month, lets users upload and comment on vacation photos and videos, share details of upcoming trips, find destination inspiration, follow other travelers, and even set up IRL meetups on the road.
Go to the app's Discover tab, and you can express your opinions of others' submitted photos by swiping right (thumbs up) or left (meh), à la Tinder. You might come across the occasional selfie, but many times the pics show off dramatic landscapes, famous buildings, and other scenes shot in destinations around the world.
Voting does not result in matches, romantic or otherwise. Instead, each swipe gets you an in-app coin. Once you have 10 of those, you can unlock a section under a photo you like that will tell you more about where the pic was taken—complete with a map, brief description, and list of nearby attractions. Then you can favorite the page to return to it later when you're making travel plans.
Presumably, the coin ploy is to keep you swiping. There's also an option to purchase coins because of course there is.
The meeting-in-real-life component comes under the Trips tab, where people can post the dates and cities of upcoming vacations and message with other travelers to make arrangements to connect when everyone will be in the same place.
According to TechCrunch, OfftheGrid has certain safety measures in place involving profile verification, but a background check feature, similar to what dating apps such as those belonging to Match Group have begun integrating, is not yet part of OfftheGrid. So you'll want to be extremely cautious when it comes to chatting with and meeting people using the new app, especially if you're traveling solo.
OfftheGrid's backers might want to get on allaying those safety concerns, given that founder Ethan Serbantes told TechCrunch that helping solo travelers meet people on the road was one of his reasons for creating the app. (In the meantime, here are some online resources for staying safe while going solo.)
Another of the app's aims is to provide better planning info for Instagram users who'd actually like to visit some of the beautiful places they see in their feeds. To that end, OfftheGrid has an Explore tab with an interactive world map with markers indicating the most popular photos and videos as well as filters for searching for beaches, wildlife, food, outdoor adventures, and other photogenic pursuits.
Future plans for the app, according to TechCrunch, include photo contests, an itinerary builder, and a tool for reaching out to locals in the destination you're visiting.