Before I met my girlfriend, I spent an entire year working online and travelling by myself. I quit my 8am to 8pm desk job in 2014 and started my own digital marketing company and travel blog. I wanted more than the typical mortgage and “good career progression and development opportunities”. I wanted to travel.
When I was young and starry-eyed I always dreamt about solo-travel as an amazing, life-changing adventure. A pilgrimage to seek other worldly values and to find true happiness.
While I still believe travelling solo was the best decision I've ever made and it did live up to (most of) those dreams and desires. I also discovered one important necessity; making friends, maketh the trip. When I look back on my experiences abroad, it's always people and the memories we shared together that I remember the most.
If I struggle to make friends while travelling, I can quickly feel homesick. That's why I think it's important to connect with like-minded travellers on-the-go.
In this blog post, I will offer my own advice as well as some useful websites to help you make friends while travelling solo.
1. Stay in Hostels
People stay in hostels for two reasons. One, because they are on a budget and two, because they want to meet like-minded travellers. Usually it's both!
Good hostels will also host events, meet-ups and group activities. So even if you don't make friends with the people you are sharing a room with, there will be plenty of opportunities to do so elsewhere.
2. Learn a New Skill
Joining a class is a really good excuse to make friends abroad. Wherever you are, there's courses of all kinds waiting for your participation. You can learn to cook in Italy, yoga in India, surfing in Barbados. You might even want to join a fitness group like BeachFit in Barcelona! There's plenty of fun things to learn while making friends all over the world.
Couchsurfing has helped me to find free accommodation with fantastic hosts who have introduced me to lifelong friends and unique experiences. It's so much more than travelling on a budget!
With a profile on Couchsurfing, you can find and join events, search for and chat with like-minded travellers. You can even organise meetups with other members on-the-go!
I use Nomad List to help me find the best places to live and work remotely. If you pay a subscription fee ($75/year) you will also get access to forums, chat groups, meetups and lots more.
I'm going to join Nomad List when I move to Taiwan (hopefully this September) so I can get more involved in digital nomad communities in Asia. I will write a blog post about it and let you know whether it's worth the fees. From what I've heard, I think it will be.
You can probably guess what kind of service this website provides. Yep, it helps you find local meetup groups. You can search by genre from arts & culture, games, business, LGBT, photography and anything else you can think of. Just remember to turn your email notifications off, you'll find out why.
6. Digital Nomad Facebook Groups
I really like using Facebook to talk with other nomads and learn about places to work in undiscovered islands or cities. It's also really helpful when finding people to hang out with abroad. WebWorkTravel's Facebook page is one of my favourites, but there's loads more, so do a search with 'Digital Nomads' and the name of the city you're staying in.
TRAVEL TIP: If you do meet people from Facebook, be cautious, always meet in a public area like a café first. And do some stalking online, before you meet them!
7. Ask Questions
People love to talk. Mostly, people love to talk about themselves. If you are struggling to make conversation just ask a few travel questions to provoke a story out of someone.
And don't forget, you are interesting too! You have embarked on an adventure across the globe, on your own! That's pretty cool and I'm sure there's loads of people out there who are interested to hear your reasons for it.
If all else fails, make sure you bring a pack of cards. People love card games too.
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