I’ve been living the digital nomad lifestyle since before the phrase was coined. Back when I started Airbnb was still relegated to only a handful of cities, reliable Wi-Fi was still the exception rather than the rule, and Zoom was just a noise that people did to express speed. It was a more difficult time to combine work and travel, of course, but technological innovations have made things easier. One thing that remains difficult, however, is dating – no matter how many new people you meet on. dating apps to find love.
Meeting a digital nomad can seem like a dream come true – you arrive at an exotic location, meet someone attractive, and then go on exciting adventures together. At the very least, you’re enjoying a series of James Bond-style encounters. It is the fantasy. The reality is, as usual, much more delicate.
Why is it so hard to date a digital nomad?
Bond-style overnight adventures and impromptu travel adventures do happen, but they’re rarer than you might think.
The main obstacle is that you are usually on the move, leaving you with few opportunities to bond. This is a problem whether you are looking for a romantic relationship or a long term relationship.
Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario: you’re in Barcelona, and let’s say you meet a sexy person through the dating app of your choice. You exchange a few messages, this person learns that you will be moving in a day or a week or even a month, and it’s over. They’re looking for someone they can enjoy or maybe even be with who they are in the long run, and you’re a bad bet.
For the sake of argument, let’s say you actually get the date and you both have fun. Again, the impending departure makes it difficult for the other person – who most likely lives and works in Barcelona, and therefore has to stay in Barcelona – to put a lot of energy into your interaction, and that goes out after a few encounters.
Now let’s say you’ve been in Barcelona with this person for a few months, and it turns out that you really love each other and want to keep things going. Sorry, but your visa is about to expire and you are not allowed to return to Europe for three months after your departure. They must stay and you must go.
Finally, let’s take a look at what could be the best scenario, in which you hook up with another digital nomad. Perfect, right? You can travel together! Not so fast – in my experience, you both have very different plans that take you in very different directions.
There are exceptions to all of this, and I certainly know travelers who have made it work. But for the most part, the obstacles turn out to be too great. As a result, there are a lot of frustrated and lonely travelers. This is one aspect of the lifestyle that most of us tend to avoid discussing.
If it seems like I’ve painted a rather depressing picture of dating as a digital nomad, take heart. While there are definitely challenges, it can still be a lot of fun. Additionally, there are a growing number of tools and tactics that nomads use to overcome these dating difficulties.
Stick to it one night.
The easiest thing to do is just follow the ebb and flow of the whole thing. Maybe you are there for brief connections and far-reaching experiences, which is why you travel in the first place. Well done – enjoy it. Embrace the fleeting nature of on-the-go encounters.
Use digital tools
Popular apps like Tinder and Bumble are, of course, useful resources for meeting up, but their value is limited if you’re trying to find an ongoing romantic connection while on the go. The majority of people who use it are locals who don’t want to date someone who will disappear in a few days. OK Cupid can be a bit more helpful in this regard, as it lets you bond in places before you even arrive, meaning you can better plan things with an interesting match.
Over the past few years, there have been dating apps and websites that are specifically aimed at the digital nomad crowd. I spent a month traveling through Turkey with a woman I met Nomadic soul mates, which is basically OK Cupid for travelers. Visit bar connect you with other travelers or show you where single travelers tend to hang out in a particular destination. And Fairy path will put you in touch with people interested in traveling to similar cities or countries.
Stay or work in shared spaces
Co-living and co-working spaces are all the rage among digital nomads at the moment. These are dwellings or office spaces that tend to be nomad-friendly, offering a bed, solid Wi-Fi, desk, etc., usually in a shared space or some structure. By surrounding yourself with people with a similar lifestyle, you dramatically increase your chances of making an ongoing connection.
Make plans – Together
I’ve discovered that there are two types of digital nomads: those who plan meticulously and those who just fly away. However, dating as a digital nomad may require more of the first than the second, at least if you’re hoping to date someone over time.
If you hook up with a travel buddy that you’d like to continue seeing, you’ll need to make plans. Together. Leaving things to chance will not work. You have to make the conscious decision to stay together in one place or move on to the next nomad-friendly digital destination together. It can be intimidating as you’ve probably just met, but coordination is key.
Speaking of the fact that you probably just met, there are a few things you should keep in mind if you decide to travel with a newly acquired person:
Don’t be afraid at every hitch
You are going to be spending a lot of time with someone very suddenly, and people don’t always look their best when faced with the stress of travel. Remember that problems will almost certainly arise. The things that you don’t necessarily like about this person will likely come out, probably faster than if you could go out on a more typical, moderate pace. Be aware of this.
Have an exit strategy
While keeping this last point in mind, you should also have an exit strategy. If you are driving through rural Thailand to try some authentic Thai food with someone you barely know and it turns out not to be fun or – worse yet – crazy, you must be able to stop by yourself . Have a plan and know when to cut your losses.
Give yourself some space
Let’s say you fell in love with another nomad and decided to travel anywhere together. It’s great, but like I mentioned above, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time together. Make sure you give each other space when it’s needed so that things don’t burn out and you get on each other’s nerves.
Meeting a digital nomad comes with its fair share of challenges, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. Much of it is about finding someone who is living the lifestyle, and who wants to visit the same places as you. From there, the world is yours to share.
There is nothing quite like making connections between travel and adventure.