Meeting interesting people is one of the best things about constant travel. You’ll find that long term travelers and even those who take quick little holidays always have a story to share about who they’ve met on their adventures.
However, digital nomadism or any long term traveling can be a lonely endeavour for stretches of time, even for the most extrovert of travelers. Many nomads are lonely, yet others aren’t. It really seems to depend on the person, how much they enjoy their own company, how much they enjoy making new friends and creating new communities, and, importantly, how they travel.
Here is a video of me explaining some tips I use to make friends and cultivate relationships while on the road.
Ask around your network
Once I know where I am heading to next, I like to post a simple Facebook update explaining that I am traveling to/living in a particular city or country. I am often surprised by who my friends know in the places I’m traveling to.
Post in the local Facebook Groups
This is one of my favorite ways of getting to know new people in a new city. I always turn to Facebook Groups and search for any digital nomad group in that city, as well as groups for expats or foreigners. One of the best cities to connect with other digital nomads through local Facebook groups is in Medellin, Colombia; that’s how I got to meet an awesome bunch of women digital nomads living in Medellin!
Stay longer and travel slower
Being a digital nomad doesn’t mean you have to be constantly on the move. Instead of moving from city to city every couple of days or week, I choose to base myself in each city for at least a month. Staying for three months or six months or even a year or two in a new place can still feel very nomadic, but also allow you to really connect with a place and its people.
Traveling slowly also makes it much easier to build up friendships, plus it’s also easier to make plans to catch up with friends along the way or travel parts of it together.
There are nomads who have two or three communities that feel like home to them and they bounce back and forth between them, with lots of new travel in between.
Some digital nomads (myself included) include good friends on our itineraries every year, which helps us stay connected to the people who matter most to us.
Join Couchsurfing and Meetup events
I utilize travel community sites like Couchsurfing and Meetup to find local events and connect with other like-minded travelers and digital nomads. Larger cities have vibrant Couchsurfing and Meetup scenes with regular events held weekly, and is a great way to meet both locals and travelers.
Sign up for digital nomad conferences
Want to meet other digital nomads? Taking part in conferences like 7 in 7 or DNX helps you connect with like-minded people.
Stay at the occasional hostels
Most of us prefer not to stay in hostels as we don’t find the environment conducive to work out from, plus the idea of staying in a hostel dorm for a long period of time might not appeal to many. That said, staying in a rented apartment can be isolating, hence an alternative to make friends is to stay in hostels or guest houses. You don’t even have to share a dorm room (book a private room instead), the key is to hang out in the guest areas. This works even if you check into a hostel for one or two days.
Be open minded
It can be tough putting yourself out there when you are introverted, but it is important to say YES more often and be open to accepting more invitations. Go out, start conversations and smile. If you’re traveling by yourself, it is even easier to meet new friends than when you’re traveling as a couple.
The bottom line is that it all depends on how much social interaction a person needs, and how much the depth of the interaction/relationship matters. I am a fairly social being who prefers fewer but more meaningful friendships, so once I find my “tribe” in a city, I tend to prefer hanging out with the same people a few times a week.