Meeting Strangers as a Full Time Traveler
We’ve never really had a normal experience when it comes to making friends. Anyone else feel the same way? Here’s the thing: When Andrea and I got out of college, we started working for a small marketing company that primarily had us both working from home. That didn’t last long before we decided that we wanted to start our own marketing agency, once again on our own and working entirely from home. We moved from our midwest roots out to Denver, CO because we wanted to live out in the mountains, and we stayed there for 2 years – you guessed it, still working from home. From there, we got into our RV and started traveling the country, which we’ve been doing for the last 2 years.
We’ve never had a large workplace to make friends at, we moved far away from our high school and college friends and all of our family, we are quite gladly out of the dating and partying scene, we cook all of our own meals, and we are total homebodies. Not the greatest combination when it comes to meeting and making friends! But in the last 2 years traveling all over the country – an experience that seems even MORE remote – we have made a ton of seriously close friends from a variety of backgrounds.
But I’ve got some theories as to how we pulled it off – and maybe these will help out our fellow travelers who find themselves seeking connections.
A few months into our RV travels, I started my podcast Strangers Worth Meeting. That podcast is arguably the most effective way we’ve met some seriously cool people on the road! From the beginning, I wanted to create a podcast that would give me an excuse to hang out with the coolest people I could find. And, to me, the location tag on Instagram came along at the perfect time to help me craft that connection. I could simply look at the location tag for a place we were staying, find an interesting post, find out whether that was a person I thought was worth meeting, and message them right away to come on the podcast.
The only standard I’ve ever had for a podcast guest was whether or not I thought they seemed interesting, meaning I got to hand pick my friends and have an excuse to get to know them. I don’t know why people started saying yes, but luckily they did! And I’ve been able to make a personal connection with many of my guests on the show that I know will last a long time. At the time of writing this post, I’ve met around 70 strangers from all over the country, the vast majority of whom are now dear friends.
I get that a podcast might not be the best fit for every traveler. Luckily, I had a real passion for podcasting, which is why I decided to start doing it. But if you have a passion for creating almost anything with other people, the internet can help you link up with your crowd all over the world, too!
2. Exploring Your Interests
I wrote about this a little in my blog posts about traveling while training jiu jitsu and hunting, but it’s worth a bullet point here as well. We don’t always fit in with the way that we RV. We aren’t in a trendy van boondocking with the cool kids. We really live and work out of our travel trailer, and we treat it more like an apartment while we stay somewhere for work or fun.
We typically stay at RV parks so that we can have a semi-normal lifestyle that allows us to work and participate in our interests. Because of that, we don’t often fit in with our neighbors – who are usually retired folks or families. That means we have to connect with new friends outside of the RV world.
One of the greatest ways we have met friends on the road is through our shared passion for jiu jitsu. At first, it was incredibly challenging to pick up that sport at different gyms all over the place. Finding a gym that had a style and coaches we liked, trying to piece together comprehensive learning in a piecemeal fashion, and never knowing anyone when we walked into a new gym are some big roadblocks to getting started.
But as we have become more invested and skilled in jiu jitsu and also made connections through our pursuit of hunting, we’ve turned so many strangers into friends. And it gets even easier when you get to return somewhere you’ve been and revisit those great connections. Which leads me to my last point…
3. Staying for a Limited Time
This is a strange one. You might assume that always being around your friends is a great advantage. After all, as people, we often stay closely connected with other people who are local to us, even in the internet age. But we’ve found an interesting paradox while traveling. Particularly when it comes to making NEW friends and connections, I think we’ve found an advantage to only being around for a short period of time.
I think it has to do with the fact that when we make a new friend, we’re not asking that person for a commitment. My theory is that we all know we have a finite amount of time for our friends, which makes us all selective about adding a new friend to the mix. So, if my theory holds up (and I think it has as we’ve been on the road), we ourselves have become easier to make friends with!
New friends know that we’re here for a short amount of time – meaning we’ve always got an excuse to hang out because, hey, we’re leaving so soon! Does that make sense? Full time travelers who make connections all over the place may know what I mean. We’re fun when we’re in town, and we can’t wait for the next time we’re back, and in the meantime, we’ll get to see each other from time to time on Instagram. I get that this concept may be odd to the non-traveler, but I really do feel it’s helped us make great friends all over the place.
So if you find yourself traveling and feeling some of the isolation that comes along with it, believe me, we know what it feels like too. And some would say it’s part of the experience. But I encourage you to start a creative endeavor using the power of social media to help, explore your interests and make social connections through them, and use your limited timeline to your advantage! Safe travels.
Tyler & Andrea
We are full-time adventure seekers taking on the world in our East to West RV! We have seen so much personal growth during our first year of nomad life that we wanted a way to capture all of those moments and share them with you! Our goal is to inspire everyone to chase after their dreams and always seek adventure in whatever they do.
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