How To Meet People And Make Friends As A Digital Nomad

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done.

Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

After a day in the cafe working on your next piece, alone, you find a restaurant and get a table for one then head back to watch re-runs of your favorite show by yourself, sound familiar? The best way to survive in the digital nomad world for the long haul is to make friends along the way.

In this post you’ll learn the best ways for making friends as a digital nomad.

The Digital Nomad Community On Social Media

It’s right there in your pocket and you’ve probably done some scoping out already but here are a few ideas that might help you navigate the ocean of social media out there. Digital nomads love connecting online, we are digital after all!

If you’re in a new place and feeling lonely, you want to find some friends in the same boat as you. Then you can travel together and explore new places, experiences and food across the cool new city or chilled out island.

The first place you look should be the first place everyone else is going to look, social media. Once you’ve established some friendships you wont need to rely on it as much as you become one of the familiar faces in your new (albeit temporary) home.

In Facebook just type digital nomads + location (town, country or continent) and you will find groups to join.

Also look for

Reach Out to Local Digital Nomad Lifestyle Bloggers

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When you’re in a new place and looking for friendships you either want to find people in the same boat as you or you want to find someone who’s been there a while. They can show you the best spots to eat, those hidden gems when you want off the trodden path and where to get real coffee!

As you’ve been googling questions about where you are you have most likely come across dozens of blogs based there. Travel blogs are much more common than nomad blogs so start there!

Check out their contact me page and send them an email or just tweet at them. You’ll find that the reason many of them blog as they travel is to find other like minded people (you!)

Making Friends In Cafes

It’s a cliche for a reason! Sitting in a quiet cafe, the smell of ground coffee and the quiet tapping of fingers on keyboards. I do all my best writing when I’m in a cafe.

The laptop makes them easily to spot. They may be lonely too.

When you’re sat opposite someone, both of you with your laptops open, typing away, it’s almost impossible to not catch each others eyes occasionally as you look up to think for a moment. A knowing smile is usually all it takes to start up a conversation. “How’s the writing going?”

Just be careful not to completely derail their work. Usually just telling them that you wont disturb them is enough to see if they want to chat. You might get a response like “it’s OK I’m done now anyway,” or “I’m going to take a break after I finish this part.”

It might seem weird at first going up to someone you don’t know and asking them to chat and it might be when you’re back home. But I’ve found that when you meet other foreigners they usually want to make friends just as much as you do. I’ve been approached many times in cafes all over Asia by people who just want to have a chat with someone who shares some similar experience. Some of them have become life long friends too.

Hostels Usually Have a Friendly Vibe

Hostels are always lively and everyone there wants to make the most of the time they have. That means they want to travel see as much as they can and meet interesting people to explore with.

Obviously not everyone staying in a hostel is a digital nomad but you don’t only want to find digital nomads as friends.

Even if you’re not staying at the hostel, most hostels have a bar, cafe or restaurant where you can meet travelers from all over. Check google maps for hostels near you then go have a visit. Evenings when everyone is back from a day exploring is when you’ll find most people chilling out in the hostel bar.

Just be active and make an effort to talk to people, share some experiences, you’ll find they’re just as willing to make connections as you are. Alcohol helps here too!

Find Other Nomads In Expat Bars

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When I first arrived in Tianjin, China, I bumped into a Scottish guy, Matt, getting some photos done at a print shop. Matt took me under his wing and after we picked up our photos he showed me to Ali Baba’s.

Ali Baba’s was a secret expat bar in Tianjin. There was no sign above the door, no markings on the wall, nothing that would tell you there was a expat bar down this nondescript Tianjin alleyway.

Walking in off the humid summer street it was like walking into another world. Ali Baba’s became my go to place whenever I needed a break from the hectic city outside. I made so many friends in that expat bar many of whom I still speak to regularly now.

A few of them have since become digital nomads too.

The shared experience of being from somewhere else but somehow thrust together was the perfect recipe for making long lasting friends.

Make Friends In Shared Workspaces

Shared workspaces can be hit-or-miss. Sometimes there is a camaraderie in the public shared cafe and lounge areas and sometimes everyone just wants to keep to their selves and get their work done. If you want to make digital nomad friends though, this will be the spot.

Before committing yourself to a shared workspace, take a little time to understand the atmosphere. Sit in the shared spaces and get a feel for it, is it somewhere you could make friends?

Obviously don’t disturb anyone while they’re working but if they’ve gone for a coffee or are just relaxing in the lounge area looking lonely, approach and ask how their work is going. If you fail at making any connections, at least you can get some work done.

Team Sports Are Great For Making New Friends

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Wherever you travel to in the world, you are going to find people playing sports. Whether it’s 5-a-side soccer, table tennis or MMA you can always find weekend leagues, friendly matches or practice sessions to attend. What better way to make some new friends than chasing a ball around with them for an hour and a half!

Sports, especially team sports foster friendship because you have to collaborate with the people on your team to be successful. But usually it’s after the game when everyone really has a chance to get to know each other. You’ll always find someone wanting to invite everyone to the local or to go for a post game meal.

You don’t even need to try to come up with conversation either! You’ve got a whole afternoon of sports you can talk about and then start planning next week.

Digital Nomad Events

Digital nomad events are popping up everywhere as the digital nomad community becomes more mainstream. It used to be hard to make connections with people who even knew what the digital nomad life was but now it’s inescapable. The pandemic really brought the idea of remote working and being a nomad to the forefront of the societal conscious.

Rather than scanning through lists of worldwide digital nomad events, just find a local digital nomad group online and someone’s bound to be sharing all the nomad events going on. You might need to travel to the nearest event, make a trip out of it!

Remember digital nomad events are not just for digital nomads, they’re also a place for people who are just interested in the lifestyle. Be sure to share your experiences with people, answer their questions. You might make a new digital nomad as well as a friend!

Take Up Some Activities

Trekking up to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal was an awesome experience, one of the best in my life. Sharing an experience like that forges a friendship that lasts. I was part of a small group but I also met a few other people along the way.

In Bali I made some good friends while canoeing on some rapids there. It was an organized tourist experience but I still made some good friends and had a blast!

After splashing down the final waterfall we went out, got a drink and exchanged details.

There are great experiences like this to be had everywhere.

  • Skiing
  • Climbing
  • Trekking
  • Boating
  • Sky diving
  • Bungee Jumping

Meet People At Hobbies & Clubs

Trying to make friends with a stranger can be awkward even at the best of times. Having some common ground is the key to getting over that initial ice-breaking. You can’t just walk up to a complete stranger and say “will you be my friend?” You’ll be lucky if all you get is a funny look.

So don’t abandon your hobbies when you travel! Or find out What Hobbies Digital Nomads Do

If you are juggling in a park and you spot someone else juggling, it would be awkward not to talk to them. The conversation can flow effortlessly when you have just one thing in common.

I’m not saying that you should stand around juggling (or whatever your hobby is) waiting for another juggler to come along! Instead find a club nearby (or start one) and you’ll find a whole group of people you can talk to easily. This works with any hobby

  • Martial Arts
  • Reading
  • Drawing/Painting
  • Musical Instruments
  • Magic
  • Yoga
  • Poi

Take Classes And Connect With Like-Minded People

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The internet is a great way to learn new things. But for making friends, classes are king. One of the top reasons people give for wanting to be a digital nomad is to learn about other cultures. The best way to do that is to seek out some classes to take.

  • Cooking
  • Martial Arts
  • Painting
  • Language

Going through the learning process with people is a great way to connect. You always have something to talk about and you can arrange time outside of class to practice or just complain about the teacher!

Digital Nomads Make Language Exchanges

You might not know it, but there are language exchanges happening all around. Typically you are going to find three types of language exchange. Read this article if your still wondering Should I Learn The Language?

  • 1 on 1
  • Language Salon
  • Language Event

Events are usually annual events for foreign language learners and polyglots to get together such as *** . But there’s no need to wait for the next big language event if you want to meet some like-minded people.

Find a local language salon, either for a language you want to learn or your native lanuguage. If you turn up at an English Salon and you’re a native English speaker, you’re going to be popular! Everyone there will want to practice speaking with you. On the flip side, if you are learning French and head out to a French Salon, you’ll meet other people learning French, you’ll have some shared experience to talk about.

Finding language exchange partners is another easy way to meet people.

Any of these apps allow you to find someone learning your language. Get to know them a little before meeting up and always meet somewhere public at first.

Live Music

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In Beijing there was a small group of familiar faces I’d always see in the ‘Hutong’ bars whenever there was live music on. Sitting down with the acts after their gig and having a chat over a beer was always on the cards.

Your Network

I’ve never randomly run into anyone I already knew while abroad but I have had friends reach out to me saying that they are in the area. It’s nice to see a face from home when home seems a distant memory.

Letting people know where you are can be as simple as sharing a photo on social media or changing your location status on Facebook. You never know who might turn up on your doorstep if you just let them know where you are.

Take A Tour To Meet Other Travelers

Get to know where you are by taking an organized tour. You’re guaranteed to meet people (they wont put a tour on if it’s only one person) and you have something to talk about – the tour.

If you’re looking to make long term friends this might not be the best option, tours are mostly for tourists. But if you’re not planning on staying in the location long or just want a bit of social interaction a tour is a great way to find it.

There are so many things I don’t know about the places I’ve visited. Without taking a tour in Cambridge I would have never known that Newton lectured there (sometimes to an empty lecture hall!)

Check out my other Digital Nomad related posts!