I’m a Nomad: How I Build a Network of Friends in the Places I Visit

You see me alone a lot on my Instagram feed. And I am alone, some of the time! The rest of the time, I’m spending time with others — socializing, visiting, exploring, being inspired… sharing moments and experiences.

I’m primarily an introvert, so my most comfortable place is alone. But hellooooo… is anything about my life supposed to be comfortable?! If you’ve been following along, I LIKE a challenge, and I like to grow, and that happens when I’m outside my comfort zone. So I meet people. I make connections. I think it takes a little confidence AND a little vulnerability. Here are some examples.

My friendship-forming tactics, as a single, nomadic solo traveler and dog mom

⭐️  I make it known to my community (friends, family, followers) that I’m open to connect. Some of my best and newest friends started as friends of friends, who committed only to showing a nomadic girl around or having a meal but we ended up clicking!

  • A friend from Utah (who was first introduced to me by my former work colleague when I was visiting there) connected me with her friend in Burlington, VT. He played tour guide for me and we got along wonderfully! 
  • A connection of mine from back in Phoenix introduced me to her friend who lived in Pittsburgh, and we hung out a couple times in the ‘Burgh (and celebrated my birthday together, which was awesome!)!
  • When I was in Charleston: a work colleague connected me with a friend of her son’s. We went to happy hour, bonded over tales of ex-boyfriends, and I later went to a few wine and game nights at her house! 
  • In the summer, an acquaintance introduced one of his friends, a fellow nomad, to my Instagram channel. We got to talking and later we decided to share a hotel room in Boston in the fall to cut down on costs — and spent the week exploring together and sharing stories of life on the road!
  • In Cape Cod: a long distance friend introduced me to his local friend, and she and I went out to lunch! The same thing happened with coffee with another (fellow-travelin’) gal in Nashville. I looooove being able to meet people like this!

Shoutout to old and new friends Sheena, Allen, Elizabeth, Brad, Leslie, Haley, Ed, Anya, Jared, Julie, and Kimberly (and so many others not described, I appreciate you too)!

⭐️ Dog-friendly places and activities. It’s easy to connect with people at a dog-friendly brewery or bar over your dogs, especially if they’re both there and they get along with each other. In Taunton, Massachusetts, Penny and I came across a couple with their young Australian shepherd puppy, Daisy. Meg, Steve and I bonded over our wigglebutts, and they invited Penny and I over for a party and a puppy play date a few nights later. I went, and we had a great time. Also in Burlington, I stumbled upon a dog-friendly live music spot and Penny got acquainted with a couple floofers and I, their human owners. (Nothing brings people together like dogs… just hang out with me and Penny for a day and you’ll see what I mean!!)

⭐️ Karaoke. This is not quite for everyone, I acknowledge that. But I loooove karaoke and I do not care who knows it! I nurse a drink, saddle up to the bar, put in a song, and watch the other singers. I congratulate others on their performances… and then as soon as I sing, people talk to me and ask me about my story. Sometimes, we karaoke again a few nights later!

⭐️ Dating apps. I’m single, so no surprise, I’m on the dating apps! And those first few online exchanges are really important in order for me to ascertain whether I think a few hours in his company are ones I’d enjoy. Although I don’t date in every city due to limited time, competing priorities, or conversations that start late, I’ve still met a lot of great guys as I’ve been traveling. I’m lighthearted; I care less about the checklist and more around having an interesting time (for now).

⭐️ Facebook groups. A place for like-minded people to connect, get advice, and contribute answers to others’ questions? That’s Facebook groups! I’m in a variety of groups — on subjects such as women travelers, national parks, and financial independence — and I sometimes solicit advice about the journey I’m on. Those online conversations sometimes lead to I-R-L outings! In Montreal, I shared a few tasty dinners and outings with Debora, I hiked with Jake in Glacier National Park, I grabbed dinner with Jason in Gulf Shores, and snacked on sushi with CheRee in Boise. 

⭐️ Just…. introducing myself. “Where are you from?” is a pretty standard opening line of mine, especially if I’m in a place among fellow travelers. Travel is always easy to talk about! I’ve made a number of friends on buses, on walking tours, at a restaurant/bar and the like. Because we bonded and kept in touch, I’ve even been able to meet up with some of them on my sojourns!

These are just a few examples, but I have a hundred of these stories (you know who you are!) 😘

The common denominator in these “friend-finding” tactics? 

  • I’m straightforward about who I am (nomadic) and what I’m doing (traveling full-time)
  • I’m vulnerable and open about what drives me, my past, and what I’m interested in
  • I ask questions about what they love to do in their city or the favorite places they’ve been, and look for other common ground. Sometimes, I even give advice (mostly solicited, I promise!) 😳😉
  • I have no expectations. At the least it’s a fleeting experience, at the most it’s a bond that will last over some time. Both have value and purpose!
  • There’s no harm in asking. Sometimes I extend the olive branch and I don’t get anything back. That’s ok, people have their own things going on and I completely respect that. I think the important thing is being willing to be vulnerable and ask the question!

Would you try any of these friend-finding tactics? Do you make friends while traveling? Leave a comment!

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