Hey everyone, my girlfriend and I have been nomading for about 8 months now and we’ve had a total blast doing it, but something we’ve both struggled with is how to stay in touch with personal/professional networks while abroad, especially since we don’t speak the language in most places we live. When you’re at home or in a single English-speaking city, you can attend one of those awful professionals groups and make 10 business connections in 10 minutes, but when you’re moving around monthly, it’s just harder to keep up personal and professional relationships, let alone build new ones. So, as friends who understand this wonderful but often lonely lifestyle, how do you keep your networks up while on the road?
I’ve been struggling with the same. Been nomading for 5 months + .
The solution that I’m testing It’s to hold an event in each city I’m going. In my case I do talks and workshops on Personal development and business with purpose and hope to atract people that it’s also into this. This month, I’m giving a talk in Ho Chi Minh and in Hong Kong the next one.
Also I look for meetup.com, eventbrite and facebook events as soon as I arrive. Depending on the country/city they may use other platforms to publish events.
I think for me this works to build new relationships and networks. Now on keeping networks and staying in touch… I’m failing in that yet. Let me know if you come up with something
Hey chelocoach, great ideas, I’ve actually used meetup.com a few times in the States, but never thought to look for meetups abroad. I’m definitely going to give it a whirl. Thanks for the thoughts!
I’ve found this piece of the nomad lifestyle to be the most difficult (and the thing that most makes me want to not travel as much or return to “normal life”)! I can’t speak as much to the professional relationships side of things, but I definitely can speak to the personal relationships side. (Also, sorry for the novel of a reply! I hope it helps in some way. )
I’ve been traveling/nomading with my husband for almost 4 years now and we’ve tried a bunch of different things for keeping up with existing friend groups and for meeting new people/ making new friends.
For keeping up with existing personal networks, I found that I mostly had to let them go. Because when you go back, honestly, not much has changed. Even after 3 years. By not trying too hard to keep up with all of my friends back home I’m able to focus more on where I’m at. Letting go and not trying to keep up with people also means that its been easier to narrow down and see who matters most to me back home. Instead of feeling like I needed to keep up with 20+ people back home, now I have a just a few friends from the states that I would consider my best friends and that I try to keep in touch with every few weeks. And even if we don’t touch base for months, it’s easy to pick back up where we left off.
To me, keeping up with people back home has often felt like when I did 11 months of long distance with my boyfriend (now husband). You just can’t grow, let alone maintain, a good relationship when you’re doing long distance. You have different lives and just talking about your life and what you did everyday gets old. You just want to BE with that other person. It’s kind of the same with friends back home.
The second piece, meeting new people and making new friends, has evolved quite a bit over the past 4 years for me.
At first, NomadList hadn’t even launched yet and I rarely met other full time travelers who were also working while traveling. There were some co-working spaces, but most of them were for locals (and tended to be expensive.) During that time, my husband and I spent most of our time going to cities where we already had friends or we would plan trips with friends. Stretches where we didn’t have friends already in the city were often a bit lonely (even with a significant other there.) We would sometimes try using Meetup.com or stay in a private room in a hostel to meet other people.
Honestly, the launch of NomadList made changed everything. The term “digital nomad” actually became more known and there started to be whole communities of people that identified with it everywhere around the world. So once it launched, I started using the NomadList slack channel to meet up with other people when I got to a new city. Co-working spaces also started to be a thing, so I started using them to meet other people.
Where things really started to get interesting for us was year 2-3. I had been making new friends time thanks to tools like the NL slack channel, but I was starting to get really tired of making new friends all the time. I was starting to miss the depth of other friendships back home. Making new friends with other nomads is great, but also difficult because no one sticks around. Why invest in a friendship that’s seemingly only going to last 2 weeks, 1 months, etc? And by only making friends with other nomads, travelers, etc, I felt like I was in a bubble. Trust me, only talking about sales funnels, products, how productive you are, what your morning routine is, how to make passive income, how great the 4 hour work week is, etc can get pretty old. lol. I started to miss just shooting the shit and doing normal life things with people.
The benefit I didn’t see at first is that I can meet up with friends that are also nomads. (I know… duh.) So many of the relationships I was hesitant to invest in have actually become great friendships.
Meeting people on the road and then choosing to continue to meet up with them has been key for me. Friendships take time and the more time you can get with people, the better!
Now, my husband and I are sort-of phasing out of being “nomads” and focusing only on living in places where we have friends or in places where we know our friends will come back to. Since we still want to see our good friends back home, we’re also making more of an effort to make sure they can come out to visit (instead of us going back home all the time.)
I know that’s not what everyone wants to do though, and especially if you’re still in a phase of wanting to travel al lot, this probably won’t make sense for you. I would recommend using tools like the NL slack to meet other nomads and go to co-working spaces as the main way to meet other people and make new friends. Meetup.com, networking events, etc can also be good. There are often great Facebook groups for entrepreneurs, nomads, etc for many cities these days, so that could work too!
If you read my whole reply, kudos. I couldn’t really think of how to share my advice without sharing my story!
We use a mix of things:
- Gociety.com for outdoor minded folks in America
- Google search “digital nomad” and the city that we are relocating to
- Push out a Facebook as that says something like “We’re headed to _____ for a couple of months, who should we know there”.
Hope that helps some!
Hi Steph, thanks a million for the detailed reply! I completely agree, the isolation of being a nomad is one of the worst parts and plugging into the community seems like an awesome way to overcome that.
When we select destinations, we typically look for small cities (I’m a big fan of the outdoors always look for cities that are easy to escape for a hike or a run) and we typically stay put for a month or two at a time to make work more manageable. My passive income and four-hour workweek still need some polishing, so I tend to be chained to the desk too often slaving away for clients. So far, the destinations we’ve selected haven’t been hotspots on the nomad circuit, so we’ve yet to make any strong connections in the community. Planning ahead with the Slack channel sounds like a great way to build some relationships down the road and working in a co-working space is definitely something we’ll have to try.
I just followed your profile and would be happy to have you and your husband follow ours too, we’d love to grab a coffee or beer and compare travel notes if our paths ever cross. Thanks again for the thoughtful comment.
Hey Adam, I’m definitely outdoor-minded so gociety.com seems like a great tool. Thanks for the advice!
Totally! We sound pretty similar actually. My husband I mostly gravitate towards similar cities with lots of green spaces or nature readily available! We both work part to full time (usually closer to full). Which sometimes make the community aspect even harder because we spend so much of our time working! (Which we mostly love though. )
It really is tricky, and I’m sure it’s different for everyone! You might want to try the Slack channel in whatever city you’re in anyway, even if it’s not a hotspot. Facebook groups for specific cities are also really great, and you usually get a good mix of types of people that way too.
Our journey has evolved and changed so many time - from trying to settle in a nomad hotspot (Chiang Mai), to making new friends all the time in coworking spaces, to traveling constantly to see existing friends…
I think it’s going to be really interesting to watch how the scene evolves and what people end up doing for this problem! A lot of people seem to have home bases where majority of their friends are and quite a few people just go back “home”. I personally love the idea of home bases!!
Would love to meet up as well if we ever cross paths! cheers!