Digital No-mates? No problem. How to meet people on the road.
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 there may be times when you crave to meet people. Thankfully, according to Radiohead, meeting people is easy, so you should have no problem at all in making new friends and acquaintances on your travels. But then again, you are reading this guide on how to meet people. Maybe it’s not that easy?
What’s stopping you?
My main reasons for not being that fussed about meeting people is that
I’m a miserable ba$tard I’m quite an introverted kind of guy. You are much more likely to find me lurking around the edges of a party or group (not in a weird, ‘who is he? He wasn’t invited, why is he staring at us?’ way, more a happy alone kind of thing) until I’ve had a glass or two of red. Then I’m usually quite cosmic.
To be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that I lived with a happy-go-lucky people person, I probably wouldn’t leave the house to meet people at all. It’s never so much the meeting people part that puts me off (although, cripes, that can be tedious, more on that later) it’s all of the anxious dread I manage to fabricate in my mind. ‘Will they like me?’ ‘Do they need me as a friend?’ ‘What if I look like an idiot?’ And my personal favourite, ‘I bet they’re boring anyway!’ If you have ever found yourself thinking the same then
‘Hi, my names Tom, let’s be friends!’ fear not, you are not alone. All I can say is that the more you do it, the easier it gets. Also, try gearing yourself up for it, or anything really, with a rousing rendition of John Grant – GMF. It’s a top song.
How it works
Well, basically you get out there and meet people. You decide on somewhere to go,
So you go and you stand on your own, And you leave on your own, And you go home and you cry, And you want to die. So you go and you interact with people and you make great friends for life and it’s amazing. Or something like that.
Some of the easiest websites to utilise here are the meetup ones. Places like Couchsurfing and meetup. At this point, I should point out that I hate Couchsurfing with the intensity of a thousand burning suns. I’m a cynical fella but the whole idea sounds a bit sleazy and creepy to me. This (maybe untrue) opinion was reinforced when I met a guy in Budapest who only let his spare room out to single female travellers. It/he was oozing with disgustingness and slime.
Anyway, don’t let that put you off if you are keen. Once you become a member you can trawl the site looking for meetups in your locale and, if you’re lucky, find one that wasn’t as incredibly awful as the one I went to! To be fair, there are usually a lot of meetups in the bigger cities so you probably have a fair chance of finding one not populated by the dullest humans ever created. I tend to assume that I was sucked into an incredibly boring episode of The Twilight Zone that night.
If, like me, sleazy French guys with bedrooms to let don’t really do it for you, try meetup. I’ve never used it personally but it looks better, it sounds better and if it’s possible, it electronically smells better. You can find meetups designed specifically for the things you are interested in which is cool. Hopefully, you’ll find some like-minded digital nomad friends and have some cosmic times. If you like the idea of these meetups but detest the sites mentioned, have a Google of it or look at your Facebook groups. You’re bound to find something that tickles your fancy.
Nah, that’s not my bag.
Co-working might be a great option for you. You get all of the benefits of a co-working space (more on that coming soon), plus potential friends, plus, and this is the best part. You can easily bang your headphones on, pretend to be busy and not talk to anyone! If you don’t want to pay for the privilege of working somewhere, you can always try out the local cafes. An added bonus here is that you might stumble across a leaflet for a local event or quiz etc. It’s all coming together now!
Staying in hostels is a great way to meet (going all Fight Club on you here) single serving friends. You’re sure to meet some like-minded individuals whether they are the ‘Andrew W.K Party Hard’ types or have the more serene, laid-back Dusty Springfield approach to it all.
Volunteering is absolutely cosmic. I do it now. It’s great fun. I go out in a van, I pick up furniture, I put it in the van, I move it, I unload it. Repeat as necessary. It’s good fun, you get to see a lot of the location where you are staying and you meet some incredibly interesting people. Plus, you get to feel smug and self-righteous. It’s win-win.
Is that all you’ve got?
Join a class. Teach a class. Form a band. Join a gang*. Go dancing. Be a roommate. Get a roommate. Do a sport. Do a tinder(?). Play a card game. Start a sing-along (no-one will think that you’re a d1ck, honest). Go to gigs. Join a team. Advertise your friendship services on Facebook (bit weird that one).
*probably don’t really join a gang.
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?
What to do.
Be nice, everyone deserves a chance! Relax, be yourself and try to have fun. Ask questions, but not weird ones, think more ‘I like your watch, where is that from?’ rather than ‘I like your hair, can I smell it?’. Be interested in people but only if you really are, faking it doesn’t help anyone.
What not to do.
Head my advice, don’t turn to excessive liquid courage. You will spend far too much time regreting it. Don’t be a div.
Don’t, I repeat, DON’T be a fool.