One of the most common complaints I see digital nomads make online is that they’re lonely. It’s hard to make friends as an adult, but as an adult who is traveling full-time as a digital nomad it’s even more difficult. So how do you meet people while traveling?
It can seem impossible to make lasting connections with people when you’re on the road…I know, because I see people complaining about it on forums, Facebook posts and the digital nomad subreddit all the time. And meeting people while traveling alone can be particularly intimidating (high five to you solo travelers out there – you’re a brave bunch, but particularly susceptible to feeling alone).
When you’re traveling for extended periods of time, it’s even more important to get “out there” and meet people. You definitely don’t want to get lonely, or for that loneliness to lead to depression, which can lead to those sad posts I was talking about earlier. And a lot of the people making these forum and Facebook posts are all asking the same question: what’s the best way to make friends when you’re living as a digital nomad?
Kelly and I have spent the last two years traveling as part of the Workationing Podcast adventure, and in that time (14+ countries on 4 continents later…) I’ve learned a thing or two about how to meet people while traveling. Here’s what’s worked for us, and can work for you too:
5 Ways to Meet People While Traveling as a Digital Nomad
Sure, you can meet anyone at any time. Waiting in line for coffee? The person behind you could be your new best friend, assuming you started the right kind of conversation. Or, maybe that person hasn’t had their coffee yet and doesn’t want to be bothered. I tend to assume the latter and keep my mouth shut in these types of real-life meeting scenarios.
Instead, I prefer to specifically go to events where other people are trying to make friends too. In that kind of environment, everyone is in the same boat: we’re all just out here, trying not to look as awkward as we feel, ideally gathering a few real human connections before we move onto the next adventure. Here are a few quick ways to find friends on the go:
1. Meetup.com – Where are you right now? Istanbul? Amsterdam? Medellín? I guarantee there’s a meetup in your city that’s worth going to – you just have to look. Hit up Meetup and search for upcoming events that interest you.
If you’re in a large city or digital nomad hotspot (shout out to Chiang Mai!), there will very likely be upcoming meetups specifically for digital nomads you can check out. If not, look for expat meetups, which are the next best thing in my opinion.
Ladies, there are women-only travel and networking meetups in just about every big city you can name – I’ve been to several, and it can be a great way to make friends without feeling like you’re on a meat market.
2. The Digital Nomad subreddit – If you’re looking for a surly group of remote workers, have I got the subreddit for you! Although the participants in this particular subreddit can be sassy at times, this subreddit is still one of the top resources for digital nomads that I’ve found online.
Have questions about health insurance while traveling? Need info about visa stuff? Looking to commiserate about loneliness and life in general? There are people posting every day that you can interact with and get advice from (because let’s be honest, sometimes digital friends are just as good as the IRL version).
3. Facebook groups – I’m obsessed with Facebook groups, and have used them both personally and professionally for years. Out of all the Facebook groups I’m a member of, the digital nomad and travel-related groups have provided the most value. Here’s the best strategy for finding relevant Facebook groups:
First, search your city + digital nomad. If there’s a group, it’ll come up. Next, search for expat groups in your city. Next, search for professional groups or sporty stuff you might be into. Ask to join all these groups, check them out and participate. The Medellín digital nomads Facebook group is how I found tejo Chris and got to learn all about Colombia’s national sport…which involves blowing stuff up, natch.
If you’re in a hot spot for digital nomads, the Facebook groups are likely to be active – the Chiang Mai Digital Nomads FB group is one of the more popular I’ve seen, with around 30,000 members and 10+ posts per day.
For broader Facebook groups you can participate in while traveling, I highly recommend Digital Nomads Around the World and Workationing: Support and Advice for Digital Nomads.
There are also lady-specific groups, like She Hit Refresh and Digital Nomad Girls Community. Girl Gone International has FB groups in just about every city you can think of, and regularly hold meetup events (I recently had a killer brunch with the GGI Amsterdam ladies). Looking for love? Nomad Soulmates could be the group you’ve been waiting for your whole life.
Dig into Facebook groups for travelers, and you’re bound to meet like-minded people both in your area and around the world. These groups often have events you can check out, where you can meet these people in person and see if you can shake any friends out of the experience.
If you want to get crazy, host a digital nomad brunch or lunch at the location of your choice. Kelly and I did this several times, and it brought all kinds of interesting people into our lives. As a side note: people are much more likely to introduce themselves to you if it’s your event.
4. Facebook events – Don’t just stop at Facebook groups, also check out the events in your area. What’re you interested in? Put it on your calendar and go!
5. Tinder – Let’s be honest, if you’re a single digital nomad you’ve probably got Tinder up and running already. If not, give it a shot (OkCupid isn’t up and popping in every city – it’s basically a digital ghost town in Amsterdam).
If you get Tinder Gold (the paid version), you can save time and sort through only the people who have liked you already. The upgraded version also allows you to set your location to anywhere in the world – so you can scope out the local talent before you even board the flight there. You’d be surprised how many digital nomads and traveling types there are in the major cities 😉
Again, one of the most common complaints from digital nomads is loneliness – and that feeling of being alone can ruin an otherwise great travel experience (especially if you’re a solo traveler). It’s something I had to deal with, too – and I’m out here traveling with my best friend and business partner.
Out of everything I did for myself along my own digital nomad journey, getting an internet therapist was one of the best decisions I made for myself. I love my internet therapist so much, Workationing now has an affiliate relationship with BetterHelp – click this link and you’ll get 7 days of free internet therapy, so you can check it out for yourself.
The Best Way to Combat Loneliness as a Digital Nomad: Get an Internet Therapist
If you’re a digital nomad bouncing around from city to city, it doesn’t really make sense (and likely isn’t possible) for you to get a traditional therapist. Fortunately, we live in the age of the magic internet box, and you can use it to do all kinds of things (work, waste time watching YouTube videos…even get therapy).
When you sign up for an internet therapist at BetterHelp, you fill out a questionnaire and will be matched with a therapist who specializes in your particular flavor or weird. If you don’t mesh well with your therapist, you can switch at any time, as often as you need to until you find the perfect match.
No matter where you are in the world, you can reach out to your internet therapist – I chat with mine several times per week, which I prefer over the traditional once-per-week type of sessions. You can message via chat, or schedule Skype video therapy sessions.
Digital nomads have unique issues, loneliness being one of the most popular. Regularly chatting through these issues (Loneliness! Depression! Stresses of running a business on the road! etc!) with an online therapist can take a lot of weight off – at least, I’ve found that to be the case enough to the point where I’m borderline evangelical about it.
Anyway, know that online therapy is an available option that you can look into (and again, you can get 7 days of free therapy here).
Digital nomads and travel types: how do you meet people while traveling and make friends on the road? What Facebook groups do you get the most value out of? Share them in the comments section below!