Leaving your tedious, dull job behind you to travel the world can give you a great sense of excitement and freedom, the world is your oyster, every step a new adventure, a new chapter of your story, the best days of your life.
It can be all of these hideous, sickly sweet phrases and more but it can also be a bit lonely. If you are a solo Digital Nomad, chances are they may be times when you crave to meet people, real people you might have something in common with and not just fellow barflies, coffee drinkers or that strange guy you met on the overnight bus that wouldn’t stop talking about 90’s house music. Thankfully meeting people is easy (according to the internet and Radiohead) so you should have no problem at all in making new friends and acquaintances on your travels.
Whilst it might sound a bit daft, finding ways to meet people and make friends can be a bit daunting. If you’re not the out-going, happy go-lucky type it can be a massive pain in the neck working up the effort. If I didn’t live with one of these people I probably wouldn’t leave the house except for food and wine! It’s not the meeting people part that put me off, it’s more the build up to it. All that hard-work of deciding where to go and what to do, are you going to have anything in common with people? Will they like you?… Meh, not for me, fortunately this has become amazingly easier and less stressful in the past few years. Below are a few ways to hopefully make some friends to make your Digital Nomading that much happier.
One of the easiest sites to utilise is www.couchsurfing.com. To be honest when I first heard of couch-surfing I thought it sounded awful, to be honest the whole part of sleeping in a strangers house for free still does. Something just doesn’t sit right with me but I am a cynical guy I guess. However, once you’ve become a member, which is amazingly easy to do, you just need to input your current location to see all the upcoming events listed. In my current home town it looks like I could go to 14 meet ups this week alone, even I’d fancy my chances of finding someone to talk to that I’d get on with! I have used couch-surfing to meet up with people before and it’s a decent way to meet folks who are new to town like yourself. It gives you all a level start really as in my experience no-one knew each other before so there were no groups of friends already formed. Couch-surfing appears to have events all over the world from Budapest to Buenos Aires so unless you are very unlucky or have travelled somewhere to be alone you should be fine. The couch-surfing app is available on Apple and Android.
An alternative to couch-surfing can be found at www.meetup.com. It’s basically exactly the same as far as I can tell, if you’ve ever used it let me know!
If you prefer to interact with people before you meet them, have a look at some of the ex-pat forums on-line. These can be a bit hit and miss but can often provide you with really useful information about your locale. The message boards are usually full of all of the information you’d expect such as housing advice, auto-mobile information and handy living tips. There can be a lot of complaining on these forums mind, so be prepared to wade through some junk before you find anything interesting to you. http://www.expatforum.com/ and http://www.expat-blog.com/forum/ are both great home-pages to start from and have forums for countries all over the world. You should have no problem finding one close to you.
Facebook as always, seems to be able to connect you with people in your area. A quick search of your city/town/country will quickly throw up any groups available for you to join. To be honest we have met some really great people this way so I guess the site isn’t as bad as I think! Finding friends on Facebook has quite a few plus points with the most obvious one being you can Facebook stalk them. I don’t mean seeing where they are and coincidently ”turning up” or CSI-ing their pictures to find out where they live and peer in through windows. More like seeing what music they like or films they watch, you know, nice things, not crimewatch things. Facebook is a decent way to find people with interests matching your own and I’m not sure why but if you meet people through Facebook it always seems pretty casual and less stressful.
There are a few message boards out there aimed solely at the Digital Nomad and one of the best I’ve seen is www.nomadforum.io. Very straight forward to use, very popular, very good chance of meeting a few friendly faces or at least of having a few questions answered.
Take a tour, www.vayable.com is a site offering unique tours run by local people, these will obviously vary depending on where you are but have a look, you might learn something new eh!
Digital Nomads don’t always need to be in the digital world, there are bound to be endless activities wherever you are in the world so maybe look into getting involved with these. A good idea might be to join a language group if you fancy brushing up on your skills, this can a be a great way to meet people and learn at the same time. Learning with others or in a language exchange setting could be great fun and much more enjoyable than learning on your own. If languages aren’t your thing look for a group that you think you would enjoy, sports, music, wine tasting? Whatever floats your boat, meeting people will probably be easier if you are relaxed and enjoying yourself.
Volunteering is a great idea, I’m currently in the process of setting some up for myself, I’m pretty sure I will be helping local people but I figure giving something back here whilst I can is all good karma? By volunteering I’m hoping to make a few local friends that can help me learn the language, show me some exciting new places to explore and just have a nice time with.
Failing all of those try the good old-fashioned method, go to the pub! Look around for some friendly looking people and pull out your best drunken attempts at latching on! Be witty, charming and funny. It can’t be that hard surely?
Making friends can turn a nice Digital Nomading experience into a fantastic one and I really hope you have great time doing it but always be careful, if you’re meeting people for the first time do it somewhere safe and in public, don’t take any risks you wouldn’t do at home. Be safe!
Any other ideas you’ve come across? Let me and others know in the comments below!
Ps. If you ever make it to Hungary feel free to let me know!