Living on the road doesn't have to be lonely.
When we decided to live full time in an RV and travel the southern United States, we knew that we would have a challenge finding new friends. Being digital nomads meant that we would be away from our friends for months, and the thought of only talking to each other for that amount of time was frightening. We knew we’d have to be proactive in finding others to talk with, but we weren’t sure where to start until we got on the road. When we started, we had two questions: How would we get fulfilling social interactions? And how would we meet people when we weren’t going to be in locations for very long?
What we found is, by using a few simple strategies, we were often able to meet way more people than we ever expected. While we were on the road and since returning back to Arizona, we’ve even been able to keep in contact with a number of the new friends we had made. If you’re lonely living on the road right now, or are holding yourself back from a nomadic lifestyle because you think it will be too isolating, today’s tips are meant to help you put yourself in the right position to meet new people while living a roaming lifestyle.
Stay in the Right Spots
Something we discovered in our travels is how being in the right spot can help you meet new people more quickly. When living on the road in an RV, RV parks and campgrounds are a great bet because they are usually set up to help facilitate people meeting. There are often tables and fire rings at each spot, which means that people are going to be hanging outside their units. There are also common facilities, like playgrounds, pools, trails, and laundry rooms where you are more likely to cross paths with others. If you’re feeling isolated by living in an RV, staying at a park with more common facilities will help you start to connect with others living on the road. Smile, say hi, or ask a stranger a question, and you’ll be amazed at how often you’ll end up in a great conversation.
If you are a digital nomad who isn’t living in an RV, it’s still important to find the right places to stay to meet people. Hostels can be a great way to meet others who are young and traveling, but they can also be distracting party scenes if you need to work during the day. A better option could be Airbnb, specifically hosts that offer multiple rooms in the same house. By finding homes that have multiple rooms listed, you have an opportunity to not only meet your host (who are hopefully great), but also their other guests. The key is to look at the host’s profile and see if they seem like someone your personality could click with. It’s not a certainty that you’ll make new friends, but hopefully you’ll at least find someone with whom you can have good conversation over a cup of coffee or before settling in for the night.
Offer or Ask for Help
When you’ve lived in an RV for a while, you know that things almost constantly need to be fixed. Moving from location to location is essentially taking your home through an earthquake, so it makes sense that things shift and break. It’s not uncommon for an RV-er to pull in to their space and do a quick check of the exterior and appliances, and possibly make a couple small fixes. While everyone hopes that the fixes are small, on occasion there are some larger fixes that need to happen. These are an ideal time to meet people.
On one of our stops, we had some trouble with our refrigerator. The fix was an easy one, just a leveling issue, but we weren’t experienced enough to know how to get the fridge running. We started asking people who were staying around us and quickly met a few other couples. We all were staying in this location for about a week, so we found ourselves having dinner together, going on sight-seeing trips together, and even meeting up with some of them later in our journey. And it all started by asking them for help. Whether you are the one needing help, or the one who can offer an extra hand, working together with your RV neighbors will help you make new connections and hopefully a couple new friends.
If you’re staying at a hostel or Airbnb, look for ways you can ask for help or help others. Examples could be asking for recommendations for places to visit in the area, asking where you should go next, or offering to help with a chore you see being done (like doing the dishes). In general, people like to help and be helped, so look for opportunities to start a conversation by asking or offering to help around your accommodations.