Whether you will always be alone as a digital nomad is an important question to ask yourself if you are looking to make the transition into the digital nomad lifestyle. Are digital nomads always alone? This answer is truly subjective. Some digital nomads can be completely isolated from the rest of the world if that is their choice. Other digital nomads can seek out communities of other nomads, travelers, and freelancers to be sure they have plenty of friends and acquaintances to reach out to, network with, and socialize with outside of work.
It depends on the type of nomad and what they are looking for from the lifestyle. The beauty of the nomad lifestyle is you truly get out whatever effort you put in, including your relationships, not just in work-related activities. It might not be as easy to find communities of people if you are not in an already structured work environment which does a lot of this work for you already, but that does not mean it’s impossible.
Read on to understand better some pitfalls of being alone and ways you can overcome these pitfalls.
The Problem of Being Alone
Nomads are inherently active people- they are always moving, on-the-go, elusive perhaps. Most of the time, they are location independent, meaning they don’t ever have to be tied down to a home base workspace if they don’t want. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t look for a more consistent place they work from or actively control the amount of moving they are willing to do.
With the movement of the nomad lifestyle comes the pitfall that most nomad friends you do make in one location will inevitably move elsewhere as well. Although many nomads don’t mind being alone or being transient with where they live and the relationships they build if they are not careful, this loneliness can be potentially harmful.
Humans are meant to thrive off connection with others. At times relationships are stressful or emotionally exhausting, but if you have no one to depend on in your life besides yourself, you might start to realize this harms your mental health.
Levels of loneliness and the depth of isolation you feel will likely depend on your personality type. If you have always been a social butterfly and thrive off the energy of others, the digital nomad lifestyle might be harder for you than for someone who is more introverted and finds strength from quiet time with their thoughts. At some point, however, there is only so much loneliness one can take. Knowing what your breaking point is before you decide to be a location independent nomad is essential preparation.
We wouldn’t advise purposefully making yourself lonely, but instead reflecting on a time when you did feel deep loneliness and understanding what the specific factors were that contributed to that feeling. Then, use this state as an example of what not to do. Make sure you have coping mechanisms at the ready to prepare you for times when you might reach that mental place.
Keep in mind that understanding your loneliness tolerance is an excellent long-term investment of time and energy as a potential nomad. Ultimately, your mental state drastically affects your work output, which in turn provides you with a means to live. Taking care of these seemingly small parts of the lifestyle and doing constant maintenance on yourself is just as important as finding out who is going to be your SEO marketing specialist or who will write for your blog. You are your own employer in the digital nomad lifestyle, so look after yourself. Think of your awareness of loneliness and your fight against its negative influence as a benefit like health insurance.
Tips to Combat Loneliness Without the Help of Others
Later in the article, we will get to some great activities and social networks you can begin to strike up to combat bouts of loneliness. First, we want to give some tips on how to use a positive mindset and some coping strategies you can implement on your own, anytime, anywhere.
Start by reminding yourself that loneliness is a perception and something we can convince ourselves of at the moment. For example, the opposite of loneliness is the distinctive feeling of being physically near another person. But, remind yourself, even if people surround you, you can still feel lonely if you do not feel connected to that person or group of people. It can almost make you feel even more alone when you are so physically near someone but so emotionally distant.
In times where you are alone, remind yourself that you are your own best friend. Show yourself some self-love! Instead of looking at being alone- physically singular- as a constant negative, try to look at it as if you are spending quality time with yourself. You will naturally work alone except for the few instances when you are co-working with other freelancers or hiring other people to help with your workload, but we suggest spending alone time away from work as well. Take a walk and be in nature. Meditate and let yourself connect to your soul and listen to your own thoughts.
If you can be in tune with your mind during moments that feel lonely, you will soon become more in tune with what you need at that moment. These moments of stillness will allow you to reflect and grow your mindset. Are you genuinely feeling lonely, and your mental health is taking a hit because of it? Or, are you just slightly uncomfortable at the idea of being physically alone in a particular moment? This feeling is a sliding scale that requires introspective check-ins to get to the root of those feelings. What is your body, mind, and well-being asking of you?
Remember that people often confuse familiarity with comfort. You might feel content spending time with a person because they are familiar in your life. However, does that person put you at ease? Are they your comfort zone? Additionally, do they provide comfort while also forcing you out of your comfort zone by challenging you?
These are all critical questions to ask as a digital nomad because they are true check-ins about the capability of living this life. Keep in mind that you likely decided on the digital nomad lifestyle because you wanted to be uncomfortable and challenged, and learn how to grow as a person without the need for constant stimulation from other people and things. As much as you need to listen to your own abilities to live this lifestyle honestly, make sure you are not giving up too quickly. Growth comes with discomfort, and loneliness will likely feel very overwhelming as you begin the transition into this lifestyle. Essentially, it is crucial to find a happy medium when it comes to pushing yourself out of your comfort zone while also caring for your mental health.
Look at our other articles for tips and tricks on how to monitor your energy output and ways to encourage a growth mindset as a digital nomad.
Activities Nomads Can Do By Themselves
Now that you know the importance of mental check-ins starts to implement solo activities that can help cope with feelings of isolation. Even if you are doing these activities alone, they can still be enjoyable and help distract you from those creeping thoughts.
First off, as we’ve mentioned in previous articles, put yourself on a schedule. Practice proper time management and clarity of mind by having set ways to tackle each day. Utilize planners and apps to help plan schedule activities into your day to keep yourself busy. People often feel the most loneliness when they are not doing anything at all.
Aside from planning your necessary daily activities like work, research, meals, exercise, etc., actively plan in fun leisure activities each week. It is likely that wherever you are located as a nomad is a beautiful location and culturally rich with plenty of exploration to be done. Try visiting local museums and spending a day taking in new knowledge and history. It can inform your future work and spark some inspiration within you.
Seek out locally offered classes of any kind! It can be music, dancing, painting, pottery, weaving, etc. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like the experience and you never go back again. The best scenario is that you love the experience and want to go back for more, allowing you to meet new people in the process and developing a consistent hobby which keeps you busy each week!
By actively attending local shows and connecting with people who share similar interests, you will help support the local community. Escaping into the alternate world of the theater is a great way to feel a different reality for a brief period and feel surrounded by the energy of other people, both on the stage and in the audience. These experiences are often unifying and put us at ease.
If you are a nature person, start taking more hikes through the natural landscapes of the city you’re currently settled in. There is nothing quite like being alone in nature, which reminds us that we are tiny in this big world, and our feelings of loneliness are sometimes silly because we are surrounded by such vastness. How can you feel alone when there is so much energy surrounding you?
Sometimes loneliness can also cause that feeling of being stuck in a rut. Those moments are hard because they tend to cause lonely people to continue to isolate themselves, further perpetuating that feeling of loneliness. It is tough to find the energy to seek out others during these ruts because our natural tendency is to retreat back to our comfort zone. In moments like these, consider seeking out a thrilling, adrenaline-racing activity.
These activities will naturally vary based on the type of person you are and how much you enjoy fear, the unknown, and adrenaline. However, try to find a thrill-seeking activity, whatever level that may be, that forces you out of that lonely state. These activities, though scary at first, they are often what we need to realize our own strength, get a rush of energy to reset our lives, and build confidence in our skills and abilities. Some fun activities for you to try based on your geographic location might include surfing, parasailing, skydiving, or bungee jumping.
Ways to Meet Other People
I think you’ll find that if you try most of the activities listed above on your own, you are likely to meet someone in the process to bring into your circle. However, we realize that those suggested activities are technically for those looking to do them alone.
When you are genuinely on the hunt to invite other people into your life, there are many easy ways to do so as well. We live in a day and age where connecting with others is all too convenient, you need to know the right ways to seek out the right types of people, especially as a digital nomad, someone who most often does not have roots in the area they move to. However, as long as you learn to use your access to technology resourcefully, we’ll bet you’ll find some new friends in no time. Again, all of this requires just a little extra effort on your part, especially when arriving in a new area. The work is not done for you like it might have been done in more structured societal settings so again, you get out what you put in.
Tips For Meeting Other People as a Digital Nomad
Use your network
So, here’s the deal. The world is a lot smaller than you might imagine! Especially in the age of social media. Use your connections on social media platforms and through mutual friends and acquaintances to find people you might know in a new place. Most people in this world are friendly and willing to invite new people into their lives as well. Trust that others want to connect with you also.
Post on Social Media
Make sure you are posting your daily adventures and thoughts on social media! People love to hear about others’ travels, especially if they have a tie to you or relation to the place. Using hashtags and tagging your country or city location allows others in the same area to find your profile and connect if they are so inclined.
If you follow a social media blogger, you love and see that they are in your country because they posted on their social media, try to reach out to them and pick their brain on life in that city or country. You might make a new travel partner out of it.
Utilize Travel Communities
Find local events for travelers on social media platforms in your area. It can be solved with a quick Google search. Connect with other nomads and travelers through niche-friendly sites like Meetup.com, Facebook groups, and other online forums. You might find a new friend who is willing to let you couch surf, and they can potentially introduce you to their circle of friends as well.
Join a Co-Working Space
These spaces are becoming more and more popular as the digital nomad movement begins to increase. Cafes and co-working spaces allow nomads, entrepreneurs, and freelancers to join together in one meeting spot to work, eat, and network all in one go. You can even get a membership to these places and enjoy the perks of the congregation space.
Being open-minded might be tough for some and a no-brainer for others. It’s so important to be open-minded as a digital nomad. You don’t have to like every activity you participate in, but you have to be willing to try new things and force yourself out of your comfort zone in various ways.
Say yes to as many invitations to group hangouts or co-working sessions as you can without burning yourself out. Close the loop on invites, strike up conversations with strangers, and force yourself to be more extroverted. Again, this should be done in doses and with frequent check-ins depending upon how easy this is for you and how deeply it affects you mentally, but make sure you are continuously branching out to others on some level.
Use Apps to Keep in Touch With Friends and Family
Don’t forget about your loved ones back home, wherever home is! Although you may not be close to a friend, parent, spouse, etc., technology can help bridge that gap. Apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime are great for making those face to face or voice to voice connections as long as you are connected to Wi-Fi. Make sure, like other activities, and you are scheduling in times to talk and catch up because schedules might be hard to pin down, and you might be in a different time zone than other people. You are having people who feel like home are essential in creating an invisible safety net if you are struggling with the digital nomad lifestyle.
Digital nomads are not always alone. There will be times when you are alone, and it is challenging, and there will be times when you relish in the loneliness. Just remember that whatever you feel when it comes to loneliness is temporary, and there are ways to help eliminate the tough times and amplify the good times. Realize that the digital nomad lifestyle is unique in that you never know who or what is coming next. Lean into the constant potential for newness and excitement that the lifestyle provides, and know that loneliness is a universal feeling, but how you choose to deal with that loneliness will determine your level of happiness with the digital nomad lifestyle.
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.