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I travel a lot, and sometimes people are surprised to learn that I don’t really care that much about the places I go. I mean, it’s nice to go to new places and you always get to see some interesting things. But for the most part I have traveled enough (30+ countries these past 2 years) now that I don’t really care about doing touristy bullshit. What I do care about is meeting interesting people from all over the world.
I wanted to share the story of how I connected with this interesting community. I think it’s always good to be able to do this when you’re traveling as a remote worker. When you land in a new place, it can be hard to not have any social or professional connections. Who wouldn’t want to quickly connect with a group of fun, cool people? They can help you get settled in a new place so you don't waste time figuring things out, and possibly even help you build your business.
Brunch: The Most Important Meal in Networking
If you’re not familiar with Playa Del Carmen (PDC), it’s on the Caribbean Sea, about an hour south of Cancun. I ended up in PDC because I was doing some consulting work for Hacker Paradise. There were some issues with the housing , so I decided to find an Airbnb with my friend Elise Micheals.
When we found a fancy Airbnb, Elise decided she wanted to have a brunch. We only knew so many people in PDC, so we had to get a little creative with the invite list. We had been to Nest Coworking a few times, and knew that it was a hub for digital nomads, expats and entrepreneurs in town. Elise got on their WhatsApp group and sent out an invitation to our brunch. That’s how we met Lore, a fashion designer and YouTuber, who was an admin for another VIP WhatsApp group, "Digital Nomad PDC and Cool People." It turns out the group was aptly named; this is how I ended up meeting so many cool people in PDC.
If you want to make friends, throw a party
Once we were part of the Cool People WhatsApp group, Elise and I heard they had rented a yacht once, and wanted to do it again. Elise said, “How about this weekend?” and pretty soon she, Lore and I were planning a yacht party on the Caribbean for ten people.
Lore helped with all the logistics; talking to the yacht people and getting prices. She and Elise recruited people to come and party with us. One thing that made this trip easy and fun for everyone was that I secretly sponsored half of it. Renting a yacht for the day can be somewhat pricey, even for a group of ten people. By sponsoring part of the cost, I was able to bring the price down overall and make the trip more accessible. It was also a good networking opportunity for me. I invited some people as my guests who I wanted to get to know, and I got to make sure that there were a bunch of cool and interesting people on the boat that day.
And it was a really great time. Everyone brought food, snacks and drinks. Karla brought her drone, so we got some good aerial shots. There was music, dancing, snorkeling and swimming. It was a great time and it was a good way to make new friends, some of us got really close. This is how you grow your network!
More benefits of finding community in PDC
This community has been great for meeting friends and having fun, but it’s also good for my business and other areas of life. In PDC, I’ve met people who work for global companies, and that’s a good connection to have. Their companies might not necessarily be a fit for my SEO consulting, but these people travel a lot. They meet a lot of people, so hopefully when they hear someone needs SEO they’ll recommend me. I’ve not yet officially signed any clients from this, but have a few potential clients. Through the people in this group, I’ve been able to connect to some pretty big players in Latin America.
I also found connections for other things that just make life easier in a foreign country, like real estate and banking. I decided PDC would be a good place for me to spend a little more time. So, in January I’m planning to go back and stay for six whole months! The contacts I’ve made will help me find a good place to stay at local prices, and help me with things like banking and financial matters, too.
I ended up in PDC at an interesting time – I was really ready to start slowing down. I don’t have any plans to stop traveling, but have decided I don't want to move around quite as much.
I’m excited to change how much I travel, and spend some more time in PDC. It’s a pretty cheap place to live if you’re an expat, and it is versatile. If you want to party hard, you can. If you want quiet time at the time beach, you can do that too. It has beautiful views, a dense jungle to explore, freshwater lakes and natural beaches. You may have heard that seaweed has been a big problem on the Caribbean this summer, but it’s supposed to clear up by January.
If you're traveling and looking to make new connections, I recommend going to a highly rated co-working space. Talk to the people who work there and see what activities or groups they have. Talk to them and find out what their membership options are. You may be able to buy a day pass and start making connections right away. Or, they may have public or paid events that you can attend without investing in a whole week or month of co-working. Most importantly, you just have to keep an open mind. Talk to people and find out what kinds of activities are happening that you can join. And if nothing is happening already, maybe you can plan something yourself.
Do you work remotely? What tips do you have for finding community while traveling? Leave me a reply below!