One of the biggest reasons people are afraid to transition to a digital nomad is the fear of being lonely.
While this is a rational fear, it’s an easy one to conquer. Before I transitioned, I held the same thought and a few others. This was huge for me because being a woman of color traveling solo, the threats are a little greater than someone who is not.
But before I left home, I made a plan that took me well out of my comfort zone, but it ensured I attended events, socialized, hoping to find people to explore with.
The only way I would be lonely is if I ditched my plan.
How to Make Friends as A Nomad
- It’s All in The Location:
Moving to a new city, we want to pick up things as we left them in our old city.
But transitioning to a nomad isn’t quite the same. Most of us move to new countries where we don’t even speak the language of the majority, yet we’re attracted to the city because of the adventures we imagine we will have.
I pick cities that are popular with nomads. This means that even if you’re just shopping, you’re bound to run into someone who is escaping through travel and working as a Digital Nomad.
- AirBnb vs Hostels:
When I choose a city, I always choose to stay at a hostel for a week or two while I find something a bit more comfortable. Hostels are a nomad’s best friend (IMO). Where else can you find nomads from all over the world looking to build connections and make friends?
Most people who are staying in a hostel for the first time opt for a private room, which is great. But think about it like this, if you are someone who doesn’t make friends easily, isolating yourself doesn’t help your cause.
In my last city, my friends were the people I met at hostels. We drank, we ate, and we explored together. I was never alone, thanks to my new friends.
- Join Expat Groups:
Similar to this website, you can find expat groups in the city you’re headed to.I simply go on Facebook, type “Expats in [City]” and when one pops up, Facebook also shows similar groups or pages that I can join. If you’re more comfortable with women or men, type “Women Expats in [City].” These groups have events, sometimes weekly, where you can meet other expats. They’re great for making friends.
If that doesn’t work, try Google. Some groups prefer Telegram over Facebook, and there’s always a link.
Dating Apps: I’m not sure when this happened, but in the last 2–3 years, people started using dating apps to network. It’s strange, but it also shows you that people are finding creative ways to meet other people.
I prefer dating apps because most times you’re connecting with locals. And locals are the best people to travel with. They know their city; they know the hidden gems, and they are their best ambassadors.
Bonus: If you’re single and looking for an international base, you can kill two birds with one stone and are not alone!
However, before you scratch this out completely, there are dating apps that have BFF mode or Networking Mood. Bumble is a splendid example. I met a friend through Bumble BFF while in Tulum and we went out for drinks and we’ve been friends ever since.
- Coworking Spaces: Working from home is lonely. Before the pandemic, people looked at working from home as a fun way to work. It is for an introvert. Or even a disciplined worker.But if you are someone who is extroverted and looked forward to chatting with your coworkers around the water cooler, then the pandemic really made you feel lonely. Being a nomad doesn’t have to be a lonesome experience. With the freedom to work from anywhere, you can work from the beach if you want to. Or you can head to a coworking space and do the same. The beauty of co-working spaces is you’re surrounded by people who are doing the same as you; they’re like co-workers, but none of you work at the same place. Ask your new co-worker to lunch and if things work out, then you have a friend.
Moving to another country can be lonely. Not everyone is outgoing, and some people struggle with making friends. But with everything, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone.
Trust your instincts, say hi to the person sitting by the bar reading, say hello to your dorm mate. Beautiful friendships have begun on the road, don’t miss a lifelong friendship because you fear being lonely. What are your experiences?
by: Dawn Demeritte