I’m the type of person who believes that with an adventurous soul and a wild drive, your life can become whatever you dream up. So, as you may be able to imagine, living in Cleveland, Ohio was a real damper on my vibe.
I needed a little more spice in my life than just brutal winters and corn fields for miles, so, in 2021 I quit my staff nursing job and embarked on a new journey of ICU travel nursing.
Transitioning from the Midwest to metropolises like Denver and Seattle was electrifying and rejuvenating but sometimes left me feeling anxious, nervous, and a little homesick.
Through the lens of social media, travel is regularly glamorized to be the epitome of success and adventure. But nobody talks about how hard it can be to constantly be on the road, especially when you’re doing all that traveling alone.
Having weathered the ebbs and flows of travel nursing over the years, I’ve created a guide to stay sane while traveling solo. These insights are primarily tailored towards nomads who will be on the road for extended periods of time, however, it can be adapted to any timeframe and molded for domestic and international travel.
As you continue reading, you’ll pick up some insider tips on how to make friends, dive head-first into a new city, and care for your mental health:
1. Join Clubs
I’ve had the most success making meaningful, lasting friendships through various clubs. Common interests and set meeting times are the recipe for success in adult friendships.
Having routine meeting times each week allows you to set time aside in your schedule without hassle. It gives you something to look forward to each week and won’t cancel on you last minute. Plus, if you’re traveling around a lot, clubs are pretty easy to pop in and out of.
My favorite clubs to join are sports clubs. Sports teams have deep layers of loyalty and a profound sense of community. Teammates will have your back no matter what and they really know how to celebrate a win! Don’t be discouraged, you don’t have to be a professional to join a team, either.
Clubs can easily be found on coffee shop bulletin boards and social media groups. No matter what club you join, you’re sure to find your chosen family somewhere!
2. Use Friendship Apps
We use dating apps all the time to find romantic partners so why not use them to find friends? Apps like Bumble BFF and Radiate are an efficient way to swipe through people in your area who are all looking for the same thing!
It can feel a little uncomfortable at first to “date” for friendships but it really helps to narrow down the friendship pool and find events going on in your city.
Whether you want a new lifelong best friend or a plus-one to a concert over the weekend, friendship apps are for every kind of friend!
3. Do Things Alone
Spending time alone while traveling can be deeply therapeutic. Making friends in a new city is important but making your own adventures is top tier.
It can be scary to do things alone, but once you get comfortable with your own company, there’s no better feeling than taking on the world by yourself. It’s empowering to know that you can make your own fun and pave your own path.
My recommendation is to hike, adventure, and explore new spots alone whenever possible. We all sometimes need to detach from civilization, get some fresh air, and delve into our new ambiance without external input.
Not only will it help you become acclimated to your new home, but it will have profound impacts on your mental health. Just be safe about it!
4. Use TikTok To Find Secret Spots And Events
Google Maps can be a useful tool for finding restaurants and cafes near you with great reviews, but I’ve found some stand-out underground spots through TikTok.
Type your city in the search bar in the app to hunt for unique seasonal experiences, pop-up markets, speakeasy bars, and up-and-coming restaurants. It’s a great way to live like the locals and find some off-the-grid hangs.
There’s also a shocking amount of meet-ups posted on TikTok. When I first moved to Denver, I found a girl gang to snowboard with, networked with other content creators at a bowling event, and went to a trivia raffle to win free flights, all that I found through the app.
TikTok is a great outlet to find new friends as well as explore your new city!
5. Have A Support Item
Homesickness creeps in slowly but surely, no matter how accustomed to traveling you are. Having a little piece of home can be very restitutive.
I often bring a stuffed animal from a loved one on my travels that I can kiss and hug when I’m missing them. If you’re not that sappy, something as simple as bringing your bedding and linens from home can make a strange and scary place feel warmer. Bringing your favorite mug can make morning coffee feel more pleasing.
Immersing yourself in new cultures is exciting and adventurous but there’s nothing wrong with bringing a little bit of familiarity with you throughout your journeys.
6. Be Consistent In Therapy
No matter if you’re a newcomer nomad or an experienced explorer, traveling for long periods of time will take a toll on your mental health.
When I started traveling I didn’t realize how much I needed a stable support system, how lonely it would feel to move to new places alone, and how scary it would be to question if I made the right choice to leave everything behind.
Depression and anxiety can creep up swiftly but the person prepared to tackle those demons with you is your therapist.
Seriously, my therapist has been my lifeline. It can be really difficult to keep a consistent therapist across state lines but I promise if you just talk to them, they will make sure your mental health is being taken care of, one way or another.
If you’re unable to obtain consistent therapy, be sure to reach out to loved ones. I know it can seem burdensome to share what you’re going through, but what you’re doing is hard and it deserves gentle love and care.
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