“Don’t you ever feel lonely?”
I get asked this all the time and the honest answer is no, not really. There’s a big difference between feeling lonely and feeling alone and during my travels I’d say there have been very few times when the sadder loneliness has hit, but yes, I’m a social person and I travel by myself so of course, I do sometimes feel alone.
24/7 friends, to nothing
– Day of the Dead Festival last year – no one told me my face was filthy
I’ve travelled Eastern Europe, Central America and Asia alone, I definitely wasn’t lonely though. During the last six months dipping in and out of Europe that feeling of being alone has grown a bit and definitely started to bother me. I’ve spent quite a bit of those six months meeting up with friends and family – BBK and San Sebastian with Helen, Barcelona with my family, Bestival and Lake Garda with Chloe, Paris with Kellie, Cuba with mum and Mallorca with Cailin, Candie and Kate – when I look back it’s those times that have been the best, and the worst have been the days after when after having someone fun there 24/7 I’m alone again.
During my long term travels, when I wouldn’t see anyone from home for months I had the chance to get used to being alone. When I say ‘alone’ of course I met people along the way, but never travelled for more than a week with anyone and they were from that life, from living in the moment.
I’ve done the whole solo travel thing and I’d 100% do it again, but really I enjoy being with people a lot more than travelling by myself. It’s not good for me to be on my own for so long – I need a little real life community I can meet for a drink, food or party.
– Good photo to illustrate me on the search
This hankering is what pushed me towards going to Tarifa and looking into where other digital nomads work and live for my next adventure. The sad reality and truth is that my school / uni / old work friends have another 30+ years of working in an office before we can go travelling together. They only have 20ish days holiday which are usually taken up by family, other friends, partners – I’m lucky and honoured that some took the time out to chill out in Europe with me this summer. People have stuff to do.
As I travel I often think about how much more fun I’d have if my friends were there but my circle of true, close friends has decreased. That’s one of the things about this digital nomad way of life, to maintain friendships you both have to try. I don’t have any friends out of convenience, all my friendships need to be well tended. I lost quite a few friends when I split up from my boyfriend, their lack of care and interest made me respond with the same nonchalance and that was the end of that.
So I need to find more friends with a flexible schedule like mine who are able to meet up in fancy locations around the world and to bring their work with them. This community is what most of the digital nomads / travel bloggers I’ve met are looking for. There are digital nomad communities around the world but it’s the lasting ones I find the hardest to pinpoint.
– Working on my terms in my cafe office in Taipei
I want to travel, to see the world, to not be tied down to a job and to be free: most of the time. The rest of the time I want to buy a house, get a husband, a TV, put some cosy socks on and just chill out with a cup of tea while my sprogs are out at a playdate. Then I’ll jump back to thinking that sounds like the most boring thing ever and Google flights to Peru.
I see my school friends’ eyes light up at the thought of marriage and babies, and then I see my nomad friends get all excited about their latest projects and where they can take them. I’m somewhere in the middle not really knowing what I want to do or where I want to go, it basically depends on who I’m with.
In the last few weeks I’ve stayed with two different friends in England and just remembering what life is like going to work every day, having the office politics, needing to request time off and trying to fit life around work reminds me of why I’ve worked so hard to build this up. Whatever happens, I don’t want to go back to that.
I’ve lived in transit for a while. Before I travelled full time I lived in a depressing, cold flat in Vauxhall, London, for two months with horrible housemates and before that I lived at my ex boyfriend’s mum’s for almost four years in a situation that was meant to be temporary. I never properly moved in or had things organised. I feel like I’ve been living temporarily for about six years now and I have flashes of wanting something more permanent.
– Some of my beautiful travel blogger friends
“Get on Tinder, blah de blah met blah on there right away.”
Match, Happn, Plenty of Fish, all the sites I’ve been told, pointless. They’re full of people with jobs and kids who’d never be able to do anything fun and free. Even the thought of organising a date drags me back into that world of responsibility and obligations. Not interested. Boring.
Unless he’s a digital nomad too I just don’t see that there’s any point. Why work so hard for this life of freedom and then sacrifice it all with someone who ties you down to a particular place? It’s incredibly hard to find a long-term partner in a life like mine. At digital nomad meet ups it’s always a topic of conversation as the night goes on.
I heard about a digital nomad who developed a nomad dating app and then ended up meeting his partner on there and so sacked it off. Love that story. It’s like he coded her up online, but it’s not much use for the rest of us.
Real life community?
– Known these girls forever #girlpower (not sure what Carla’s doing?!)
The sense of real life community is definitely the thing I miss the most with this life of perpetual motion but then sometimes I wonder if I’m pining for something from the past.
I grew up in the same village from 4-18 and every night would be filled with friends, same at uni and then the same in London too, even if it wasn’t the same friends there was always friends. But that was in my early 20s. Now all my friends have partners and jobs, and they’re saving and some have babies, no one has time for the real life hang outs more than occasionally anymore.
Community is hard to find. I have my London friends on Whatsapp and I love and cherish my travel blogging who now I only seem to talk to online, but I want someone to go to the pub with and seeing as I don’t have an office job, someone to hang out with in the day too.
It’s the simple things
I know I have it so good – jetting round the world to meet up with mates, doing what I want and being able to go where I like – but the things I miss most are the simplest. Being in a house, showering in peace, having a wardrobe of clothes, being able to leave my toothbrush and paste in the bathroom, watching TV, understanding people – stuff I never even used to think about but now seem like a luxury now I’m home.
What to do?
So I’m currently halfway between signing up for a Match account, a gym membership and RightMove alerts and on the other hand booking a one way flight to Colombia for January (well, perhaps more on the Colombia side today, wrote this late last night).
Since April I’ve been flitting around the world. A bit of Europe here, a bit of North America there and a quick visit to Asia to finish it off. When you’re trying to work at the same time it can be pretty hard to have so many plans so I know I definitely want to slow down but I don’t know where.
I want to be by my friends but they’re either in London (too expensive) or all over the world. I want to live somewhere cheap but I’m over being a dirty backpacker. I want to not have to pack up and move every day but not be bored in the same place either.
I need your help
Where would you go if you wanted some sort of community, some sort of familiarity but you could live anywhere – the cheaper the better?