This was tough for me when I first started traveling as a ~digital nomad~ because it had been SO easy for me to meet people when I first traveled solo. I met the bulk of friends in the hostels I stayed in, so once I started house sitting instead and my only roommates were of the animal variety – it made things a little more difficult.
After spending 2 months alone in small towns in England, I learned that having friends and community is SO important. I’d totally underestimated the negative impact that being alone would have on my mental health.
So, I made it a priority to go places where making friends would be easier. Here’s how I make friends now:
1. JOIN FACEBOOK GROUPSFacebook groups are paramount to making friends! You can usually search “digital nomad ___” along with the city or town you’re in. I love the Girls Gone International Facebook Groups and made some friends through it when I was in Hamburg. There were several dinners I went to with different groups of girls, and we had some fun bar nights, too!
And don’t be shy – you can totally even post in them and create events, too.
Of course, it’s much easier to find groups like this in larger towns; when I was in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, a small town in northern England, no such groups existed! Which brings me to my next point…
2. GO TO LARGER TOWNS & CITIESI personally prefer small towns as big cities overwhelm me, but bigger towns and cities certainly have more people and thus, more events. They’re more likely to have Facebook groups and other digital nomads living there if you’re looking to meet likeminded people.
3. OR DIGITAL NOMAD HOTSPOTSYou can also just head to a place where lots of digital nomads flock (usually that means lots of sun, beaches, and more affordable living). Some known digital nomad hotspots include:
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Bali, Indonesia
- Bansko, Bulgaria
- Koh Lanta, Thailand
- Las Palmas, Canary Islands
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
3. COWORKING SPACESDefinitely do your research with this one as not all coworking spaces are created equal! I went to some in Hamburg (there was a 3 day free trial) where NO ONE talked to each other. These were pretty much just like normal offices – everyone came in, did their work, and left.
However, there are some coworking spaces that cater to digital nomads, like Coworking Bansko. I really enjoyed the space there as people not only came to work, but also to make friends! It was fun walking in and knowing most of the people there (although it was sometimes difficult to keep track as there are always people coming and going).
And, everyone was already pretty likeminded since most were also digital nomads. Several residents even moved to Bansko and made it either their permanent home or one of their bases because they liked it so much.
They had a ton of events so it made meeting people super easy. Every week they organized trips to the local hot springs, had game nights, restaurant outings, and community meetups on the mountain!
4. COLIVING SPACES
Coliving spaces are like the adult version of hostels and certainly make meeting others easy! I haven’t tried these yet as they’re typically a little pricier, and because I teach English online and don’t want to annoy people while I talk all day, haha. But I’d imagine these make life pretty fun, and would be interested in trying one out eventually.
It almost felt like a coliving when I was in Bansko, since I lived above the coworking space and several of my neighbors were also nomads! That was pretty fun.
Meetups are also an easy way to meet people! I admittedly have not tried them yet, but I want to. My mom is a meetup queen and loves them LOL.
I’d imagine that most of the people you meet during meetups are locals, which makes it fun, too.
6. GROUP EXPERIENCESWhen I first traveled solo, I also met people on pub crawls and free walking tours! Yes, I went on a pub crawl solo and became friends with two women from Australia (and we still talk – in fact, I met up with one of them in London not long ago!).
Since becoming nomadic I haven’t tried them out, especially since you then just meet other travelers and not other nomads, but I wouldn’t be opposed to it.
I’ve also heard that AirBnb experiences are fun ways to meet people, too – my friend and I did a cooking experience in Bulgaria which was really fun! The host was really cool and fun to talk to.
7. TAKE LOCAL CLASSES/ATTEND EVENTSI took some yoga classes in Bansko and the teachers were really cool! I’ve also become friends with other people in the classes, too. It’s a great way to meet locals!
I can imagine this might be a little difficult if you don’t speak the language, but you can usually find some in English if you look hard enough. I also took some exercise classes in Hamburg, where the teachers only spoke German – I was always a beat or so behind, but it was really fun!
I also went to a gin tasting night when I was in northern England and sat with a group of awesome older women. One of them told me all about her motorcycle trip across Route 66 when she was younger and it sounded badass.
8. WORKAWAY OR WWOOFINGIf you have a flexible work schedule and are interested in a more cultural exchange, you can try out Workaway or WWOOFing! Most require 5 hours a day, 5 hours a week, and some even less than that. You can just adjust your work schedule to evenings, and get to know your hosts during work hours and meals.
9. PHONE APPS
Although I personally haven’t had a ton of luck with this (I tried joining Bumble BFF and Bumble Business when I was in London, and although I matched with and messaged people, didn’t receive any responses…), I’d definitely be interested in trying again! One of my friends told me she’s heard people have had good experiences with it in Berlin.
And when in doubt there’s always…Tinder? LOL but I actually did meet someone that I ended up dating for a while when I was in Germany.
10. JUST…TALK TO PEOPLE!
Although I was super lonely in England, I did kinda become friends with the lady at one of the local coffee shops. We didn’t exactly hang out, but I went in several times and so we chatted a bit when the shop was slow.
I hope this helps you make friends in a new city as a digital nomad, or know that you won’t be totally alone, just you and your laptop.
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