How To Build Community & Connection As A Digital Nomad

Friends hanging out at sunset

Table Of Contents

A Bit About Myself / Introduction

Hey!

My name’s Loren, I started traveling internationally over 10 years ago. After starting my digital marketing business 3 years ago I’ve been fortunate enough to travel pretty regularly.

After returning to my hometown, I’ve been focusing on how I can build the bonds and community I had at home while living out of hotels around the world.

If you’re interested in learning more about my story, check it out here!

So About This Article…

I got a lot of help from a large group of nomadic friends. As you scroll through you’ll see I highlighted each of them throughout this article.

A List Of The Beautiful People Who Helped Me Write This


Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Ranika’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

“I have a couple hours set aside in a week to send voice notes to friends because it’s not easy to catch up with time zones etc. Sometimes I don’t receive them back in a timely manner so I’ll send it again. I really don’t mind being annoying as I’ve been bad at getting back to people myself.”

  • Ranika runs a sales team remote, and is starting her own business(es) as we speak. She does a great job of building community while traveling, and she helped me huge in writing this. I’m super excited for her future and what she’s going to do.
  • Her Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
    • Lison, Portugal
  • INSTA –  @rainbowrani_

Travel Communities

WiFi Tribe

A short video introducing Wifi Tribe
  • Overall Score4.5/5
  • Description
    • Wifi Tribe is a Travel community that caters to working professionals. They boast that they have members from 62 nationalities. They also have a pretty extensive application process, to ensure it’s fun and safe for everyone involved. Ranika has done a couple trips with Wifi Tribe, and would be happy to answer any questions you all have.
  • Age Ranges
    • Most of their members are between the ages of 25-35
  • Price
    • Annual Membership of $500 + $1,200 – $2,800 per stay + $300 security deposit
      • There does appear to be some discounts with bundling pricing / becoming a regular user of the service. Check those out here
    • What the price includes
      • Accommodation
      • Water, electricity, and any other bills
      • Basic cleaning
      • WiFi
      • Internet backups
      • Space to work within our accommodations
Wifi Tribe Pricing
Courtesy Of WifiTribe
  • Process To Sign Up
    • There is a 4 step process to be part of the group
      • Submit An Application
      • A Video Interview
      • Completion Of A MBTI Personality Test
      • Then Decision Time
  • Level Of Support
    • They have hosts at each location to resolve any issues with accommodations or WiFi. However, they make it clear that those hosts are not concierges or travel agents.
  • Flexibility Of Schedule / Locations You Can Pick
    • At the time of writing this they had 1 – 7 locations available every month to pick from. They have locations pretty widely spread
      • Central & South America
      • Asia
      • Europe
      • Even Namibia!
    • It’s pretty flexible as you’re able to choose between 4, 6 or 8 week packages
  • Organized Activities
    • Activities are organized when you arrive with the other members at your Chapter (the place you stay), and they do not make these activities mandatory. The costs for these activities aren’t included in your pricing either.

Remote Year

  • Overall Score4/5
  • Description – Remote Year is probably the biggest name in Travel Communities, they have a huge list of destinations. However the pricing is a bit more expensive and it doesn’t appear as though their application process is as strict as some of the other options.
  • Age Ranges
    • The site claims 21 – 77 Year Olds. I’ve read the average age is 30, however, I’ve heard it tends to be a bit younger of a crowd.
  • Price
    • They have 3 different membership levels that go from $228 – $1,188 a year – see pricing breakdown below. In addition to this you pay for the location(s) you want to go to, from a week to a year the price goes from ~$2,500 – $32,000.
      • What’s included?
        • Co-working spaces
        • Accommodation
        • 5 Curated, Local Experiences Per City
        • Transportation to and from airports
        • On site staff
        • Development workshops
Remote Year Pricing & comparison
Taken from the Remote Year website
  • Process To Sign Up
    • Pick a membership package, speak with a program placement coordinator, then pick your destination.
  • Level Of Support
    • Upon signing up you get a dedicated advisor, who helps you with onboarding, selecting the right trip, tips for general nomad advice. They also have on-site staff at the locations as well.
  • Flexibility Of Schedule / Locations You Can Pick
    • They have 80+ destinations all around the world, and have packages that go from one location for one week to 12 locations spanning over a year!
  • Organized Activities
    • They have 5 local experiences per city
    • Remote Year boasts 1 -2 digital meetups, local meetups & global adventures per month. In addition to this, they have 4 National festivals a year.

Hackers Paradise

This is a video about Hackers Paradise from One Way Ticket
  • Overall Score3.75/5
  • Description
    • Overall, hackers paradise positions itself as a more flexible option with even options for just the programs without housing. However, the list of destinations isn’t nearly as robust as some of the other folks.
  • Age Ranges
    • They claim 18 – 60 on their website. I couldn’t find anymore conclusive data on ages but it looks like 30 is the average age for this program as well.
  • Price
    • Not bad pricing, with the ability to share rooms & save some money that way
Hackers Paradise Pricing & Comparison
Taken from the Hackers Paradise website
  • Process To Sign Up
    • Application & Video Interview to ensure you’re a good fit
  • Level Of Support
    • Full Time On Trip team to help you out while you’re there, along with a fairly robust onboarding process
      • You’ll receive a Checklist & trip guide after signing up
      • 3 weeks before your trip you’ll recieve an invitation to the Slack channel
      • 10 Days before your trip starts you can join a live webinar
      • An orientation session upon arrival
  • Flexibility Of Schedule / Locations You Can Pick
    • They do have locations around the world. However, their selection wasn’t as impressive as Remote Year, with only 8 locations outlined on the site at the time of writing this.
    • They also have a program only membership, where you can pick your own housing and have more freedom that way.
  • Organized Activities
    • They have weekly personal / professional & local events going on that are optional.

Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Bailey’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

If you sit down to next to just about anyone and make a slight effort in getting to know them, you’ll be surprised how many people will sit and chat with you back. Nobody in the traveling world will judge you or be confused as to why you sat at their table and started chatting. Then [if it goes bad] just Irish goodbye you’ll probably never see them again so who cares.”

  • Bailey is the only person I know who has casually let slip in a conversation that she could survive alone in the mountains for a week. She’s pretty bad ass and has killer outdoor content on her Insta!
  • Bailey doesn’t like Selina Co-live spots, but I don’t hold it against her 😂
  • Her Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
    • Lima, Peru
  • INSTA – @b_adventuras
  • WEBSITE – b-adventuras.com

Travel Communities – Honorable Mentions

This is a list of other travel communities I’ve heard good things about. If you’ve had any experience with them, reach out to me on Instagram. I’d love to hear about your experience and if you recommend them.

Wild Wifi

Wifi Artists

Noma Collective

Sojrn


Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Shea’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

“Attending local activities advertised on Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups, or on any other social media platform is a way to make and keep friends. It’s good to get both peoples WhatsApp info as well as social media handles to stay connected”

  • Shea’s the real deal, he specializes in fitness health & fitness coaching for folks in Playa Del Carmen & all over the world. He is as committed to his mental health as he is his physical health. He takes breathing classes and will be starting mens mental health retreats in South Mexico soon. If I’m anywhere close to the area, I’m going.
  • His Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
    • Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
  • INSTA –  @thenomadfitnesscoach

Co-Lives

Colives offer the community elements of a hostel with co-working spaces & fast, reliable wifi. Of all the ways to build community, this is my favorite.

Selina Colive

A video I took from the Selina in Playa Del Carmen
  • Overall Score – 4.5/5
  • Description
    • The first Co-live I stayed in was with Selina, and while I went around Mexico, I stayed mostly at Selinas. Check out my guides to Playa Del Carmen, or Mexico City.
    • Selina’s are actually where I met Yash & Cody
  • Price
    • These aren’t the cheapest places in the world, however they do offer lots of different options from suites all the way to shared dorms. The prices vary pretty wildly based on where you’re at.
  • Number & Variety Of Locations
    • They have a pretty extensive network of locations, with a big focus on latin America. They also have spots in North America & Europe.
  • Community Elements / Facilities
    • They have Whatsapp groups at each of their locations. They had daily events, with yoga facilities, theaters & travel agents at each of the locations I stayed at.
A video I took of the Selina Cancun location during sunset

CoWork Surf

A video from CoWork Surf showing one of their Bali locations
  • Overall Score – 4/5
  • Description
    • I’m not a surfer, but this concept looks super cool, and I’ve had it recommended. It’s essentially like AirBnB but for Digital Nomads where the houses are all Co-live spots with dorms and private rooms available in places all over the world, close to the beach. And they mention the wifi download speed on most of the listings, which is huge! If you want to learn more about wifi speeds, check out this article.
CoWork Surf Review
A snapshot of some of the spots on their website, check out the Wifi download speeds 😻
  • Price
    • The prices varied pretty widely from what I saw. I found a couple spots for as low as $30 USD a night for a shared dorm room, and the prices went up to $400 for private spots in the Canary islands
  • Number & Variety Of Locations
    • Pretty wide variety of spots available, and it looks like new places are added fairly regularly. From Morocco and Senegal to Norway & Ecuador.
  • Community Elements / Facilities
    • It looks like there’s not as many planned events and the level of facilities from one location to the next may vary pretty widely.

Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Kira’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

“Go to the cheesy meetup events that interest you! Stay in hostels (even in private rooms if dorms aren’t your vibe), say hi to people in coworking cafes/coworking offices, people are always more friendly than you think!

  • Kira’s travel journey began with an around the world trip after university. Ever since then her and her dog Milo have been traveling around and finding vegan spots around the world
  • Her Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
  • INSTA –  @kiraswholesometravels
  • YOUTUBE – Kira’s Wholesome Travels

Colive Honorable Mentions

Curiocity – A South African based company. I stayed at these guys spots in Johannesburg & Cape Town and they were pretty damn good and affordable. Read my digital nomad guide to Cape Town here.

Neighbourgood – Some pretty killer looking colive spots in Cape Town I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.


Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Cody’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

“Making friends is important, but keeping friends is even more important. My advice with this is to spend the energy to build a worthy connection with certain people. The second part is to say in contact with them so the connection doesn’t fade. Every month or so I text and call over a dozen people that I’ve formed Strong bonds with while traveling to maintain the friendships.”

  • Cody was locked into an unfulfilling life not long ago. He had a mortgage, a career but felt empty. He decided to get out of that rat race & now coaches people on how to become digital nomads.
  • His Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
    • Tulum, Mexico Not his favorite place in general, but a great place to meet other nomads
  • INSTA –  @nomadic_cody
  • PODCAST – Live Without Boundaries

Online Digital Nomad Groups

These are online groups meant to help digital nomads meet other nomads from around the world

NomadList

  • Description
    • I personally use this site. It’s pretty bad ass and it’s a big part of my research process when I’m going to a new place. It has a lot of functionality, and a slack channel with a bunch of different channels from relationship advice to channels devoted to islands in the Carribean.
  • Price
    • $99 one time fee, pretty killer deal
  • Add’l Functionality / Cool Stuff
    • Slack Channel (pretty killer tool for researching new spots)
    • Tinder like feature for dating / making friends (not the greatest)
    • Ability to follow / get notified about friends travels
    • High-level guides to cities (nothing like the in-depth journalism you’ll find in my guides, but it’s still pretty cool 😉 )
    • Up & Coming Digital Nomad Spots – They have a section dedicated to showing up and coming digital nomad hotspots
    • Digital Nomad Meetups – I actually went to one of these with Yash, it was a killer time!

Nomad Base

Pretty killer intro video!
  • Description
    • These guys claim to the be the first travel club for digital nomads. I don’t personally use them, but after the recommendations I’ve gotten, I may check them out! They seem to have a bigger focus on larger, international events as well as career development.
  • Price
    • $87 per quarter or $290 per year
  • Add’l Functionality / Cool Stuff
    • A Nomad academy complete with tools & tactics to be a successful digital nomad
    • Live skillshare programs
    • Private Mastermind sessions
    • Chapters in a number of more major digital nomad hotspots – not sure exactly what these chapters are about, but seems like a cool idea

Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Anne’s advice for people looking to build community while traveling

“You can build a community in any city, but in my experience that’s easier if there’s already a decent infrastructure for digital nomads. I had the best time in Da Nang, Vietnam, because there were a lot of different meet ups, coworking spaces and likeminded people. I really love going to events to meet people and build a friendship from there.”

  • Anne has been a nomad for a while now, and started a killer podcast where she interviews nomads weekly!
    • See link below
  • Her Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
    • Da Nang, Vietnam
  • INSTA – @annes_nomadstory
  • WEBSITE – Digitalnomadstories.co

Add’l Tips On Making & Keeping Friends While Traveling

Tip #1 – Pick The Right City

Anne made the point that finding a city with a pre-existing infrastructure & digital nomad community makes your life way easier, and I couldn’t agree more!

Here Are Some of The Best Cities for Digital Nomads

  • Medellin, ColombiaI’m likely going to be living here for 2023, so if you come, hit me up on Instagram
  • Lisbon, Portugal – I’ve heard from a number of friends that this spot is incredible. Hit up Ranika if you want to know more about it, as she just left Portugal.
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand I haven’t been to northern Thailand yet…😱 but I’ve heard lot’s of great things about Chiang Mai and can’t wait to go.
  • Bali – Do I really need to explain this one?
  • Cape Town, South Africa – Is a great city with a pretty big community. Read my digital nomad guide to Cape Town here.
  • Mexico City, Mexico – Is a great city, I agree with Yash that “The city feels like a Latin NYC to me with its gigantic size, endless array of restaurants, bars, events and even some massive, beautiful parks right in the heart of the city”. Check out my digital nomad guide for Mexico City here.
  • Playa Del Carmen, Mexico I know, I know two Mexican cities on the list, but I’m telling you this place is killer! This spot is my favorite spot for community, and I’m not the only one Kira, and Shea prefer this spot as well. Check out my digital nomad guide for Playa Del Carmen here.

Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Anton’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

“To build friendships, you should stay at hostels. The right hostels attract the right people which are easier to start a conversation with. On the other hand, the hostels that are not built to make people socialize with each other, which are just hostels and nothing more, attract many people that are not really interested in socializing and are just looking for cheap accommodation”

  • Anton’s a tequila drinking Russian student studying hospitality. Although with as much as he travels. I’m not entirely convinced he’s not some kind of spy 😂
  • His Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
  • INSTA –  @a__tequila

Tip #2 – Apps Can Help

In addition to the apps and sites mentioned in the online nomad groups section There are some great apps for making friends all over the world. Nausheen W/ Global Gazers recommends Bumble BFF.

Ranika recommends Nomadago – which is an app designed to help you plan and invite friends to trips you have coming up.

My Thoughts On Dating Apps While Traveling

Bumble BFF looks great, and I’ll probably use it next time I’m traveling solo. In the past I nearly exclusively used dating apps to find people to hang out with in the countries I went to. I met incredible people, and spent my time with someone who lives in the country, who taught me the language and showed me around, there are a lot of benefits to it. However, I would be careful being overly reliant on these apps. You can find yourself more preoccupied with finding dates than seeing the country.

I thought Bailey had a great quote about being honest with yourself about the types of connections you want traveling

“There’s a difference between sexual connection and emotional connection. Once you learn you have deep connection with people without it having to lead to anything sexual, you can build much stronger connections with people. At the same time, be clear and honest when it comes to the sexual connections (whether you want it or not).”

For those interested in learning more about dating while traveling check out my blogs here.

Tip #3 – Other Solo Travelers Are Looking For Friends Just Like You

This was probably the biggest recurring piece of advice from my friends. Everyone (okay most people) traveling are looking for friends, and in the words of Bailey W/ B AdventurasIf it’s weird of awkward, just Irish goodbye and you’ll never see them again.


Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Yash P

Yash Patel

Yash’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

“One thing to keep in mind is, be ready to have some boring or underwhelming experiences sometimes. Sometimes you go to an event and don’t vibe with anybody or feel downright lonely, I think that’s a natural part of the digital nomad journey (especially when solo), however, just like anything else, keep trying until you succeed.”

  • Yash is genuinely working to change the world for the better. He’s a good guy and a fun time. Super excited about what the future holds for him.
  • His Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
    • Mexico City, Mexico
    • The city feels like a Latin NYC to me with its gigantic size, endless array of restaurants, bars, events and even some massive, beautiful parks right in the heart of the city
  • INSTA –  @yash.p99

Tip #4 – Facebook / Whatsapp Groups

For me this can be hit or miss. I’ve been part of Facebook & Whatsapp groups that were incredible for making friends & staying connected. Other groups were overran with spam, so not all are created equal

I was told about this website mexnomads that will show you whatsapp groups from all over the world. However, I’ve never been able to make it past the email verification. It’s a great idea! If you get it to work let me know.

That being said, there are two ways to approach finding groups

  • Look for expat / traveler groups by searching on Facebook and even Google for City Name + expats, nomads, digital nomads etc.
  • If you don’t run into language barrier issues then look for groups that you’d be interested in anyway and join those. For example, Yash has met a bunch of people in Latin America through finding dance groups. While Kira has made a bunch of friends from Volleyball groups, language meetups and vegan events.

Nausheen (see her highlight just below) mentioned a great FB group named Host a Sister exclusively for women-identifying travelers.

Nomad Highlight – Highlighting the nomads that helped me write this

Nausheen’s advice for people trying to build community while traveling

Just going out alone and feeling comfortable. I made friends with another solo female traveler randomly because we were sitting next to each other at a cocktail bar in Madrid. We ended up exploring some other places together that night and then met up again weeks later in Frankfurt .”

  • Nausheen has a really cool story. She didn’t consider herself a traveler but after a divorce she looked around and decided it was time for a change. She now helps women with tips and inspiration for traveling solo
  • Her Favorite Place To Build Community As A Nomad?
    • Paris, France
  • INSTA – @globegazers
  • WEBSITE – Globe-gazers.com

Tip #5 – Get Contact Details Of The People You Meet

This was another piece of advice I got from nearly everyone.

When You Meet Someone Cool Get Their Contact Info

Personally I would recommend adding them on the social media platform you’re most active on so you see them more regularly and mutually stay top of mind.

I remember when I was 20 years old and hitchiking across the United States. I was staying at a vacant office in Washington DC with a group of protestors I had met when I arrived. One of the dudes in the group wasn’t a protestor, but simply looking for a safe place to sleep. He rode his bicycle from Austin Texas to Washington DC in order to talk to The Senate about the humanitarian issues in Haiti.

That night there was torrential down pouring, and he lead us all outside to run in the rain. We danced around while he bellowed the words “You Can’t Take Yourself To Seriously If You Want To Be Free”. He was an incredible dude, but I didn’t even think about getting his contact information. This is one of dozens of awesome people I’ve met that I may never see again because I didn’t heed this advice.

West Virginia Road
A shot from West Virginia during my hitchhiking trip. Stay tuned for the hitchhiking stories!

Tip #6 – Stay At Hostels / Colives

This was another piece of advice that nearly everyone shared. If you’re scared of Hostels, I would work to get over that because they’re awesome. I’ve met a good portion of the people featured in this article in Hostels.

As Anton mentioned All hostels are not created equal so do some research on Hostel World, Booking.com or even Google, even ask around in any groups your part of and find the right one for you!

Tip #7 – Stay In Touch With The People You Care About

This is for both old friends and new ones, as well as family members of course.

I think Ranika had a great strategy for this.

I have a couple hours set aside in a week to send voice notes to friends bc it’s not easy to catch up with time zones etc but I do think of them and want to be in as touch as possible. Sometimes I don’t receive them back in a timely manner so I’ll send it again. I really don’t mind being annoying as I’ve been bad at getting back to people. 

To Wrap It Up

There are a million ways to make friends and create community while traveling. You’ll find that usually your fear, anxiety or laziness is what’s standing in front of you and connecting to people in the area.

You can do it! That being said, it’s normal to feel lonely, that’s part of solo travel, and for me, a level of loneliness from time to time is good for introspection and getting in touch with where I’m at internally.

I’ll leave you with a parting piece of advice from Bailey

“Not everyone in this world is meant to be your friend. It’s okay not to like everyone, don’t try too hard to make it work. Sometimes it’s better to be a little sad and alone than spent too much energy on people who aren’t going to add anything to your life. If you meet someone and it isn’t going well, just move on.”


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