Alone together | How to combat loneliness as a digital nomad couple
How wonderful it is to travel with your partner! Never being alone and always having someone to talk to whenever you feel lonely. Well, not exactly. Many couples discover that being together 24/7 doesn’t fill their need for human interaction and it can even be unhealthy for their relationship. As a result, they might want to interact with other people, but their go-to ways of socializing with friends from back home and family members are not accessible to them as digital nomads. When they try to meet new people locally, they discover that organically mingling with others is harder to do as a couple than for solo travelers.
Despite all these challenges, socializing with others is still a basic human need. So it’s important to know how to combat loneliness as a digital nomad couple. And with all the love and respect for our partners, they are not enough for human interaction. So here are a few tips on how to socialize with others as a digital nomad couple:
Get yourself out there
The first way to combat loneliness as a digital nomad couple is by putting yourself out there. This is the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to socializing. You need to put yourself out there and do the horribly awkward thing of reaching out. Usually, in life, we have structures that help us socialize with others and potentially make friends: Our studies, our job, our hobbies and so on. When you become a digital nomad many of these structures are gone or do not work in the same way. You want to replace those structures with ones you build yourself. No matter what kind of structures you want to build, remember the most important part is taking the action that will allow you to socialize. If you are not sure what that action can look like, here are a few of the things that work for us while we travel.
Social media is your friend to combat the loneliness as a digital nomad couple
The least awkward action you can take is posting to social media. We met digital nomads that met new people through tinder, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter. As a couple, the platform we usually use is facebook’s groups\communities. Find local groups of digital nomads or expats in your area and write a general post that you would like to meet people. Usually, people will respond. Sometimes those connections happened even when we were asking general questions in those groups, like asking about good places to find accommodation or fun activities to do on the weekend. The downside to this method is that it is essentially like a blind date with a stranger. If the thought of meeting someone you don’t know at all is uncomfortable for you, you might want to try the following actions:
Weekend adventures and joined activities
Do something fun over the weekend that will make socializing easy. As digital nomads, we usually use the weekends to enjoy the place we are staying at. A fantastic way to answer your socializing needs is using that time segment to choose activities or places that will help you socialize with new people. Here are two examples:
When we stayed in Albania, we used the weekends to explore places around the country. When we went on our weekend adventures, we would try to book a hostel instead of a hotel. Hostels are places where people naturally speak to each other and hang out, and it is so much easier to find new friends when the atmosphere encourages it. When we stayed at a hostel in Berat, we met new people and decided to grab lunch together during check-in! We later spent the whole day with them when we went on a canyon trip that the hostel offered and we became really good friends. We even met them again in Tirana before they flew to their next destination.
When we stayed in Koh Phangan, we dedicated one of our weekends to a well-being retreat. During that time, we were in classes and workshops that introduced us to new people each time, as well as during our free time hanging out in the pool or eating in the dining hall with other people. We met a couple of friends we stayed in contact with until today while eating one of our meals in the dining hall. See, it’s easy to combat the loneliness as a digital nomad couple when you know how.
Go to where the people are
Weekend adventures are lovely, but you don’t have to limit yourself to meeting new people just over the weekend. Assuming you don’t speak the native language, another method you can try is finding where many digital nomads, expats, or even tourists hang out and come visit. You can go there for something you already supposed to do, like work or eat, and get to know people along the way.
Co-working and co-living spaces are obvious examples to combat loneliness as a digital nomad couple. We had one of our best social periods when living in a co-living space with other digital nomads in Sri Lanka. But co-working\living places are not your only option. Many times, there are specific bars, cafes, or restaurants favored by the people you want to meet. In Krabi, for example, there was a family garden where many locals and expats would go to and it was a wonderful place to meet people. Sometimes there is even a hanging spot of digital nomads from your home country, which makes making friends much easier. We went to a Shabat’s dinner in such a place when we stayed in Koh Phangan, and we made some great connections there.
Follow your interests
Another excellent option is using your passions and hobbies as a way to meet people and deliberately channel them for that goal. For example, I practice yoga independently, but when we settle for a few months, I like to find a studio where I can practice with others. By deliberately doing my yoga practice in an environment where I can have a community, I extend my social circle and the possibilities of meeting people and making new friends. This is how I met friends both in Krabi and Bangkok, and we know of other digital nomads that used hobbies like water polo, Muay Thai, singing, and surfing with similar results.
Friendship is a never-ending quest for the digital nomad
Unfortunately, making friends as a digital nomad is a never-ending quest; whenever we come to a new place, the quest for friends begins anew. You will make amazing friends along the way, but at some point, your paths will probably separate, and you won’t be able to stay together all the time. But don’t discourage! Keep on putting yourself out there with confidence, and you will make more friends with whom you truly connect. As time goes on, you will have amazing friends scattered all over the globe, and the quest for meaningful social connections will become easier.
Travel couples start your digital nomad journey right: begin with peace of mind
Starting a digital nomad journey can be a scary step to take. Even more so when you decide to take that leap of faith with your partner and are unsure how this might turn out:
Will both of you like this lifestyle? Could you deal with being together 24/7? What will happen if only one of you is miserable? Could you support yourselves working from afar while still living the lives of your dreams?
Instead of being excited for a new chapter in your lives, you find yourselves worried and stressed from endless worst-case scenarios. In this article, we suggest tools you can use to address the fears you might have before starting your digital nomad journey as a travel couple.
Double the trouble: Why you might be more concerned to start a digital nomad journey as a couple.
Becoming a digital nomad is a decision that changes your life. It means leaving the safety net of what is safe and known and creating a new life away from your friends and family. Understandably, worries and fears will accompany a change like this.
If you’re starting your digital nomad journey as a couple, some of your fears may be connected to the fact that you are traveling with another person. Fears like how your relationship will look like in your new lifestyle or how you will support two people financially when one or both partners are transitioning jobs.
Addressing those concerns and questions can reassure you about starting your digital nomad journey.
The problem is that communicating all of these is not as easy as you might think.
Orr and I had quite a few conversations before starting our digital nomad journey where we tried to share our concerns, but it felt like the other person didn’t understand them. We left each of those conversations feeling even more uncertain and worried about this new lifestyle.
In hindsight, we can say those conversations didn’t work because each of us had some assumptions we didn’t think to share, thus making the other worried after seeing only one piece of the puzzle.
I told Orr I was unsure how my workday would look and how filled it would be starting an online business, and instead of getting some console, it only made his financial worries worse. He told me about his financial concerns, and I told him we would be fine without sharing my thoughts on how we could make it work.
After a few failed attempts to get our message across, we tried a different more methodical tactic: We shared our reasons for becoming digital nomads, what we would like to accomplish during this period, what we are afraid of, and we created a safety net to feel more secure starting this journey.
After that conversation, all our concerns became excitement about starting our digital nomad journey! If you would like to do the same with your partner, here is how we did it.
Step 1: Why do you want to go on this journey?
This is something you probably already discussed, but it can be very useful to get it more precise and share it with your partner. What is the core reason you want to become a digital nomad? Are you longing for the freedom to do whatever you want at your own pace? Do you look forward to leaving the 9 to 5 grind and having some serenity? Are you excited by the security of saving more money while working less hours?
No matter the reason, remembering why you are starting this journey can help you understand your priorities and concerns as a couple. For example, if you are searching for freedom, you might prioritize having more free time and working fewer hours. But if your partner needs to have security to enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle, you’ll need to create a way to make them feel secure even if you’ll be working fewer hours.
The practical solution to this hypothetical situation can be many things. You can follow your income and expenses to make sure you are saving money, or you might choose to travel to cheap destinations until your income increases. Or both. Or none of these.
As long as you are both aware of the reasons you’re starting this journey, you can make
adjustments to your plans to ensure you will have all your core needs met. It is important to mention that even if you talked about your reasons for becoming digital nomads, you might have different interpretations of what they mean. Because of that, we suggest taking the next step.
Step 2: What would you like to accomplish?
What do you imagine yourself doing while being a digital nomad? What are the things you would like to do during this time? Think about those questions and share your answers with your partner. Besides the added value of getting you both excited for things you will do when you start your couple’s nomad journey, sharing the things you would like to accomplish can eliminate some concerns about the change you’re embarking on that were connected to your partner.
When Orr and I got to this part, I shared my wish to make my yoga online business a stable income. Hearing that, Orr became much less worried about financial problems because he understood that I would give the yoga business my all and not laze off for half a day. He then became much more able to provide me with the console on how to make my dream come true and imagine what a workday can look like to me.
Step 3: What are you afraid of?
One of the most important parts to discuss before starting your couple’s digital nomad journey is your fears. Remember the concerns and worries you had before starting this conversation? Now it’s time to deal with them head on.
Usually, our fears will either reflect an opposite scenario to the reason we would like
to become digital nomads, or it will be something complementary to that reason. For example, Orr’s reason for becoming a digital nomad was to be free to live the life he wanted, but his greatest concern was to find out he was losing all of his savings. For him, losing his savings meant he couldn’t do as he pleases because he wouldn’t feel safe. Understanding his fear from this point of view allowed me to realize how important this issue is and to find a solution for it with him.
The key point in sharing your concerns is to show empathy towards your partner’s fears. Even if their fears do not worry you at all, remember that you are starting this journey as a couple, so it’s crucial that both of you can feel reassured in becoming digital nomads. Expressing empathy toward your partner’s fears will make them feel heard and allow you to think together on safety nets to start this journey with peace of mind.
Step 4: Create a safety net
Now it is time to find practical solutions for dealing with your concerns and ensuring all of your core needs are met. I like to look at safety nets as composed of three parts:
Practices or actions you can take to make you feel at ease (like setting a regular date night to look at your balance).
Red flags to help you avoid worst-case scenarios (like deciding that if we reach an overdraft of 20,000 $, it is time to fly back home).
Things that are always good to remember (like the option to stop being digital nomads at any point and instead do a fantastic two weeks of backpacking).
There are endless possibilities on what can be your safety net and what actions you can take to start your couple’s journey with peace of mind. The only rule you have to follow is to make sure the solution you reached works for both of you.
Starting your digital nomad as a couple can be exciting and worries free. If you and your partner are going in circles of concern, give the tips we shared in this article a try.
Remember that human beings are complex, and we do not mind readers – you cannot know what goes on in your partner’s mind until they tell you. If you share your thoughts and concerns with your partner in a way they can truly hear them and you can genuinely listen to theirs, you are sure to begin your digital nomad journey with peace of mind.
Digital nomads are no strangers to the neverending search for a perfect temporary home. For the mid-tempo nomads, we pack ourselves up every month or three, change location, and search for a new accommodation we can call home begins. But finding a suitable space for you can be a daunting task as it’s time-consuming, stressful, and could have a huge impact on the quality of your stay. It becomes more challenging when looking for a place for two people, each with its own list of conditions and different priorities.
Using all of our experience (and mistakes) traveling around the globe, we created a guide to finding the right home for you and your partner. We hope that this guide makes your next transition as easy and as smooth as possible. So let’s get started!
Research before arriving (you will learn a lot from it)
Whenever you’re thinking of moving to a new destination, doing the research before your arrival can go a long way. First, by making sure that the destination works for you, and secondly, by helping you find your new accommodation quickly.
For example, my partner and I are thinking of spending the summer in Europe and debating where our base should be. We made a list of cities we would like to visit and then researched them answering questions like:
How expensive is a month of living over there?
How fast is the wi-fi?
What is the weather during summer, and do they have options for vegans?
This research helped us narrow our list from 10 optional destinations to 3. You can also check this article for more things to consider when choosing a destination.
But the insider information we find comes from locals, expats, and other digital nomads that live in that destination. We asked via social media what areas are the best to stay in, how we can find a good apartment, and what we should know before getting a place. Using expats and digital nomad groups on Facebook, we found out that in Sarande, you find good apartments by using an agent. In Thailand, you need to look for places with a bike, and in Sri Lanka, you must make sure the place has a fiber connection and a backup generator.
You can also find other options for accommodation on social media that might be cheaper than third-party websites. We found a few apartments using Facebook groups. Other traveling couples use Reddit and Instagram as well. Take advantage of the social media you already use to find the information you need.
Create a base to continue researching your home
You researched and found a few options for places you think can be your new temporary home. Should you book one of them for your stay? Well, yes and no.
Even if you found a place you love online, the things you see on the internet might not be the same in reality. Things like water pressure or the comfort of the bed cannot be assured with just online research. So if you’re planning on staying in a place for more than two weeks, you should see the place you’re considering with your own eyes before committing.
We usually like to book a place as a base to go apartment hunting for four to seven days. This gives us enough time to check all the options for a new temporary home while also not worrying about where we will stay the next day. It also helped us avoid a house with a major leaking problem, an apartment too small, and rent a space off-platform for a much lower price.
Know what you need and understand each other’s priorities
The most effective way to make your search for an apartment effective is to know what you need from your accommodation.
When we started looking for houses in Thailand, we weren’t sure if we would even need a kitchen because food is so cheap. But I learned from living in a space with no kitchen for a week that I lose a big part of my autonomy by not being able to do things at my own pace in the morning. We also found out that we need a place that feels like a home with a living area separated from the bed and comfortable working areas for the both of us.
If you are a new nomad couple and struggle with finding accommodations quickly and aren’t sure what you are looking for, make a list! This is something that helped us when we just started. We created a list of the things that are a “must-have” for you, a “makes me feel good” list and a “would be nice” list. Share what you wrote with each other to understand what you’re looking for as a couple.
The must-have items from both lists will be your priority while searching for a place. For example, the first question we ask an optional accommodation is if they have rooms with a kitchen. If they don’t, we don’t even look at the rooms, even if the place is beautiful and within our price range.
Now the “makes you feel happy” list and “would be nice” list are the ones that help you decide on a place between a few good options. For instance, Orr, my partner, loves to live in a space with a beautiful view. It is not a “must-have” for him, but it does make him feel really good when it happens. In Thailand, we were looking for places near the ocean, but those apartments tended to be more expensive. We started looking in different areas, but not having a view bumped Orr. So even though it wasn’t a “must-have” item, we put more effort into finding other options that met all of our requirements next to the ocean because it made Orr happy.
Of course, the items you have can move from one list to another, new items could be added or could be subtracted entirely. The important thing is for you to communicate with your partner when changes like this happen so the hunt for your next home will be as productive as possible.
Tips and tricks for digital nomad couples
Every digital nomad have a way they like to do things. This is our shorthand on how to find a midterm accommodation for a couple:
Research before arriving at the location you would like to stay at to ensure it fits your needs.
Figure out from locals, expats, and other digital nomads on social media how to find a good place and where it should be.
Book a place for 4-7 days to be used as a base to see apartments with your own eyes.
Like a couple, know what you are looking for: make a list of the must-have things to quickly know if an apartment fits your needs. Use the things that make you feel good and are nice to have as a way to decide between good options.
Also good to know:
You can book a place you are interested in from a website for a few days and then negotiate a price for a month directly with the owner and usually get a better deal.
Checking a space’s utilities before commenting can save you a lot of trouble: What is the wi-fi speed? Is the bed comfy? What is the water pressure? Is there an a.c/heating? Is there a washing machine\lunderry service? Is the apartment well equipped (bed sheets, towels, kitchen equipment, cleaning tools…), etc.
It is always an option to extend a stay at your temporary base to find a space you love. Staying at a place you don’t like for a month only because you felt pressured for time just sucks.
Do you have tips and tricks of your own to find a temporary home? Any best practices that we missed? Let us hear about it in the comments!