Going “digital nomad” on your own is a freeing and exciting experience like no other. When I went digital nomad, I left my apartment, my home, my family… and my friends.

That’s right: becoming a digital nomad, or a remote worker traveling and going abroad, meant that I was far from everything I knew. Personally, I’m someone who thrives off of having groups of friends, a social calendar and friendly company all the time. So how does a digital nomad make friends?

In this list, see all the proven ways I’ve met people and stayed social while traveling alone, living as an expat and on all my digital nomad travels.

Use digital nomad and expat Facebook groups

Every time I moved cities as a traveling remote worker, I joined new Facebook groups. When I moved to Medellin, Colombia, for a month, I joined “Medellin Digital Nomads,” and when I went to Mexico City for almost two months, I joined “Mexico City Digital Nomads.”

There are lots of groups for nomads around the world. What can you expect?

In these groups, people sometimes post that they’re hosting an event, or that they found an event to go to, and they want to see if someone else will join. Or, they’ll post that they just moved to the city, and are looking to make friends. They might do a “self introduction” and see if anyone has anything in common and wants to meet for coffee.

Really, the sky’s the limit with Facebook groups for digital nomads, and they can be an awesome way to meet like-minded remote workers who also want buddies and social lives. It’s one of my top tips for digital nomads while working remotely and traveling.

Get a room at a coliving space

Coliving is a new term and an experience that made me see so much more of the digital nomad experience! I tried my first coliving at Nine Coliving in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. When I got the gist of what “coliving” means, I fell in love with the concept.

Think of a hostel, but now think of people who are more work-focused on the whole, who really want to create a community and form a cohesive pack. This is coliving: staying in a house and making friends with your housemates, who are also your coworking buddies in the coworking space on site. A coliving space combines living, working and making friends.

Loneliness, and combating that loneliness, are pros and cons of the digital nomad lifestyle. A coliving house can be the perfect solution for digital nomads who want to travel independently and also have friends that feel like family.

Tap into your social network

Tap into your social network when you leave home as a traveling remote worker and when you choose a digital nomad destination.

When I moved to Shanghai, China, as an expat, I told everyone I knew about my plans. My best friend from high school introduced me to his friend from college, and when I touched down in Shanghai, I met up with him.

We became super close friends, and expanded our social circle with amazing friends from both our circles, throughout our first year there.

This is the most powerful way to make friends — through the connections of friends and family.

It has always been easy for me, too: I’m never nervous to meet up with someone I’ve never met before.

But I understand that people have all sorts of levels of comfort with this! My best advice is to consider every person like an opportunity to meet someone new, and you never know what can come of meeting someone who’s a friend-of-a-friend for coffee.

Join a remote work and travel program

If you want to become a digital nomad but the thought of having to do all the legwork to meet people is too daunting, there is an amazing solution: a work and travel program.

Dan and I joined Remote Year, but before we ever did it together, Dan joined Remote Year all on his own, while we dated long distance so that he could try it out.

Instead of having to make all his own friends and worry about being lonely as a digital nomad, Remote Year provided an entire group of immediate friends and connections.

That’s right: the way a remote work and travel program works is that you join a program with a pre-determined itinerary (either one city, or 12, throughout the course of a year, depending on the company). Then, you travel with a group, and everyone brings along their own remote job.

You live in apartments, and work at coworking spaces and do lots of social events and side trips together. For me, it was really awesome.

Interested? I list out the best remote work and travel programs for you to look through.

Work at coworking spaces

I worked at the Selina CoWork coworking space in Medellin, Colombia, and it was there that I met people outside Remote Year who were just “digital nomading” on their own. I met this fascinating guy who owned his own company, and he was just living in Medellin on his own timeframe, meeting other nomads at the coffee station in the coworking space.

Some coworking spaces are more social than others. We worked at Conexion60 in Merida, Mexico, and that was one of the less social ones, where people were really hyper-focused on work and there wasn’t a ton going on socially (although it was very nice and the WiFi was great).

But some coworking spaces can be hyper social and conducive to meeting other professionals, and that’s one of the benefits of coworking spaces.

If you’d like to be the type of person who makes other digital nomad friends at coworking spaces, I recommend checking out reviews or asking for referrals, maybe in digital nomad Facebook groups or on Reddit.

See more on What is a coworking space?

Go to social happenings and networking events

When you’re abroad, it’s like a world has been opened up and you do things you wouldn’t normally do at home. I loved living abroad as both an expat and as a nomad — I did things I never would’ve thought could be my weekly happenings.

Of course, with Remote Year, I had a choice of cool events to attend that were built into our schedule, but when I was traveling as a digital nomad without Remote Year, I had to figure out cool things to do on weeknights and weekends on my own.

Some of these events include talks or presentations at my coworking spaces, or expat happy hours at bars, hosted by expat groups and organizations.

One of the very first social events I went to as an expat in Shanghai was to a professional happy hour, where my friend Steph dragged me, saying it could be fun. Who would’ve known: I met a guy named Mark who would turn out to do me the BIGGEST favor of the decade when he helped me do a recording for my college a cappella group and “ship” it back home to the guys mixing the recordings in Maryland.

It’s a wild world!

Go on dates

If you are single, a great way to meet people is to go on dates. Of course, this isn’t for everyone, but if you are confident in dating as a digital nomad, go for it.

Going on dates as a nomad is an immediate solution to solving loneliness, whether socially or romantically. And even if nothing becomes of your dates, dating can be a nice way to meet people, whether expat/nomads or locals, and learn about new people, their experiences, their work and their motives for living in the city you’re in.

Helpful Tip

Date safely as a digital nomad. Never go on a date where the person on the other end of the dating app seems dodgy or has red flags. Go on dates only in public places, and avoid telling someone exactly where you live until they’ve earned your trust.

Go to Meetups

Meetup.com is an amazing place to find things to do. All you have to do is type in your city, and see what’s going on!

Keep in mind that some Meetups are free, and some come at a fee, which usually goes toward an organizer or to a company that is putting on an event. I used Meetup in NYC to find events for photographers, and at one point, I went to a Meetup for a special-interest foodies group at a health restaurant.

You might also see regular “meetups” being publicized in Facebook groups. Usually, people at these events are friendly and welcoming.

Join your local religious organization

For some people, religion is community. In the groups I’ve traveled with, and during my expat days as well as my digital nomad days, I’ve been someone who gravitates toward religious experiences, and it’s how I’ve met a LOT of new friends from around the world.

Because religion is such a grounding force, I find that the friends I’ve met from going to religious institutions or holiday celebrations around the world have stayed friends of mine, and I’ve even visited them in their home countries and kept in touch for years.


Volunteering is something I adopted when I first moved abroad alone. Again, I have to credit my friend Steph for finding the volunteer organization we latched onto - BEAN Shanghai. Our first volunteer event was playing cards and games with elder folks in an old age home, and I had so much fun that I attended the event every month for two years!

It’s not just the volunteering alone, though: volunteer organizations are usually social spaces where expats and digital nomads can meet and make friends. And if you thought meetups were friendly and welcoming, volunteering groups can be even more so.

Stay in hostels

Of course, staying in hostels is one of my favorite and most social aspects of traveling. I’ve made fantastic friends in hostels.

Now that hostels can also be places for digital nomads, you can make friends in the place where you’re staying. For example, Selina hostels are places where you can get your own room, socialize in social spaces like the hostel bar and pool and also get work done at the Coworking Space.

Another tip for booking hostels is to choose a hostel for its top-rated social atmosphere and do your coworking elsewhere, to get variety in who you meet. Although, I have to admit, it’s very convenient to stay at a hostel with a coworking space where you can make friends and then keep them around as you spend the night in the hostel social areas.

Try a language exchange

When I was a digital nomad in Hanoi, Vietnam, I distinctly remember that one of the most popular events was a weekly language exchange held at a “games cafe.” Incredibly, I remember the name of it: the Bla Bla Language Exchange, and it has grown to encompass cities on multiple continents in so many parts of the world.

A language exchange can take place in a few ways, but it always ends up being social. There are people who speak the main language of the city everyone is in. In this case, it was Vietnamese, in Vietnam.

Then, people attend who want to learn Vietnamese, and at the same time, they can form connections with locals! Plus, the locals can brush up on their English, or French, or German, or whichever languages are spoken by the attendees.

Language exchanges can be tons of fun, and everyone learns. Hopefully, everyone ends the event having new numbers in their phone of new friends to hang out with soon.