Whether you’re living as a digital nomad, working abroad, or even taking a solo trip for a few weeks, finding a community can be a challenge. But when you do, it’s beyond rewarding to find “your people” in a new part of the world and tap into a new culture.
From supporting local businesses to checking out cultural events, here are easy ways to find a community abroad.
Tap into social media groups
Even before you arrive in a new destination, you can start to connect with new communities online. First, let your own social media networks know where you’re heading. You might find out that a friend of a friend is living in the city where you’ll be and can show you around. Also, with today’s rising digital nomad scene, there’s no shortage of online groups devoted to expats and digital nomads in certain cities. Do your research ahead of time and these online communities might turn into face-to-face friends when you arrive.
Find local cultural events that interest you
Start following and reading the local papers, magazines, and cultural sites based where you’ll be. You might find there’s an English site or expat site if it’s a non-English speaking country. Search for events that fit your interest—local music, art shows, film screenings, food and wine events, and more. Being in the know of what’s happening where you’re traveling will help not only getting to know a new culture, but you’ll be meeting people that share similar interests, whether they’re locals or expats. In our opinion, attending different cultural events is one of the best ways to meet people, especially when traveling solo.
Live like the locals
The first way to separate yourself from a passing-through tourist in a destination is to try on the life of a local. This can mean taking public transportation (skip taxis for a few weeks) or walking around your new neighborhood. Shop at farmers’ markets and in local grocery stores, and you’ll start to run into the people that live nearby. Grab your coffee from the local corner café and instead of taking it to go as you would back home, pull up a seat and settle in. Maybe you’ll overhear about an event that interests you, or perhaps a local will tell you about something cool in the neighborhood you have to check out. Create a routine as you would at home and conversations and community will happen organically.
Volunteer for a cause you care about
One of the best ways to find a community abroad is to work alongside the locals. Find a local organization that supports a cause you care about and offer to help out. VolunteerMatch.org helps you find non-profits and opportunities in the U.S. UnitedPlanet.orgconnects you to immersive volunteer opportunities in 20+ countries. Grassroots Volunteering is a growing resource of organizations and social enterprises all over the world. Or try WWOOF-ing it: working on organic farms abroad is a great way to meet new people and see what feeds a community.
Take a class or join a club
Of course, language classes are a great place to meet other travelers, but maybe you’ll have more in common with like-minded locals or expats who share your same interests. Sign up for yoga classes or join a local running club, hiking club, or amateur sports team. Maybe you want to learn a new professional skill like coding. Whatever your unique interests are, you’ll sure to find a club that speaks to you onMeetup.com.
The key thing to finding a community anywhere in the world is to be open. Consider putting your phone down from time to time. It shows you’re approachable and willing to have a face-to-face conversation. Making eye contact and smiling go a long way, too.