Before the age of the hook-up app, traveling while queer could be a lonely experience until apps like Grindr allowed real-time connections with locals and fellow tourists. Sniffies, a relatively new addition, allows not just sweaty meet-ups but intel on where queer people hang out — enabling gay travelers to find community.
Sniffies, launched in 2018, features a map interface, showcasing cruising destinations where you can love him and leave him or actually spark up a conversation and, possibly, friendship. The app includes tips for timing and even “vibe checks” so users can feel comfortable exploring a new place. There’s also a chat option allowing people to connect with those already checked-in at the cruising spots, while Travel Mode allows users to get a better handle on gay hangouts.
Shane Moran, social media marketing manager for Sniffies, says the app allows queer travelers to get an idea of how sexually progressive any destination is (power in numbers!) — a benefit, even if you’re not looking to hook up. A good example is Little Beach on Hawaii’s Maui Island, a clothing-optional spot where LGBTQ+ travelers congregate. Some beachgoers retire for romance in the wooded area behind the sand, while others chat and make friends. While knowing of Little Beach’s wonders used to require word of mouth, apps like Sniffies will direct even the uninformed to the island’s unofficial gay nexus.
Finding queer people outside the U.S. can be tougher Moran says. “We always get testimonials on social media about people finding successful cruising spots and group events in foreign places.”
Sniffies operates outside Apple’s app store, allowing for explicit pics and kinks. Bisexual sex columnist Zachary Zane said it directed him to group experiences in New York City. “As an orgy connoisseur, the app’s most intriguing feature is the fact that people can post about orgies they’re hosting,” Zane wrote in Men’s Health. (Little did Zane know New York hosts at least five to 10 orgies a day!)
This piece initially ran in the Fall 2022 print issue of Out Traveler.