As a solo traveler, meeting new people while traveling is an important part of the experience. Here’s how to meet people and make friends when you stay in hostels.
If you’re planning a solo trip, you might be wondering how to meet people on your travels. Sure, you’ve worked up the courage to travel alone, but that doesn’t mean you want to BE ALONE the entire time. There are plenty of ways to meet other travelers out on the road, but one of the best ways to do that is to stay in hostels.
As a solo traveler, there are many reasons to choose hostels instead of traditional hotels as your accommodation. The top reason being that it’s the best place to make new travel friends. Whether you want to find someone to hang out with for the day, someone to travel with moving forward, or just someone to have a nice conversation with, hostels are MADE for socializing.
Staying in hostels is always the number one tip for making friends as a solo traveler. But here’s the thing: booking a bed in a hostel only gets you so far. I know a lot of travelers feel defeated because they never seem to meet people in hostels, or they just find it hard to make travel friends there.
So even though hostels are centered around community and fostering friendships between guests, it’s not necessarily going to happen all on its own. Especially if you’re typically shy, quiet, or reserved (like me). Sometimes you have to push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone to connect with the other hostel guests, but it’s well worth the effort.
I touched on this topic in my Introvert’s Guide to Hostel Life, but I wanted to write an entire post specifically on how to make friends when staying in a hostel. If you’re booking hostels for your solo trip (or even if you’re traveling with another friend), then these tips will be a big help.
Just a few simple things will make all the difference. Implement these tips to meet people in hostels, and you’ll have some new friends in no time!
7 Tips to Make Friends in Hostels
1. Introduce Yourself to Your Dormmates
This seems obvious, but it’s by far the most important tip. As soon as you check in and walk into your dorm room, the first thing you should do is say hello to everyone else. Doing this immediately breaks the ice and makes it much easier to start conversations with people later on. If you don’t do it right away, others might assume you’re not interested in socializing.
2. Stay in the Larger Dorm Rooms
Private rooms and small dorms are great if you want some peace and quiet, but if you’re trying to make friends, stay in the large dorms (I’m talking 10+ beds). Why? There are more people to talk to, for one thing. I’ve also noticed that people who stay in the smaller dorm rooms are often a bit less talkative (there’s nothing wrong with that!), while people in the big dorms are often more interested in socializing.
3. Hang Out in the Common Areas
Most hostels will have some sort of lobby, as well as a kitchen and dining area. Bigger hostels will also have extra lounges, TV rooms, game rooms, media room, etc. Those common areas are there for a reason, so go use them! Sit in the lobby for a while and you’re bound to find some other travelers to hang out with. Hiding in your room definitely lowers your chance for connection.
4. Join a Hostel Event
If the hostel has an event or tour of some sort, go and join in. Hostels put events on to bring people together, so take advantage of them. It could be a movie night, a pub crawl, a community meal, a walking tour…some hostels have events going on every single day. Everyone there is in the same boat as you—they want to meet new people. Ask about events when you check-in and plan to attend!
5. Share Your Food
Everyone has to eat, and backpackers are always on the hunt for their next meal. If you cook a meal and have extra, offer it to someone. Or just start chatting while cooking. Ask people what they’re making. Food always brings people together. I’ve met so many hostel friends this way! It definitely makes stilted conversation less awkward if you have food in front of you. Also on that note, if you see someone eating alone, ask to join, or invite them to sit with you.
6. Invite Others to Go Sightseeing
Before heading out for a day of sightseeing, let others know what your plans are. If you’re going to a certain museum or attraction, ask your roommates if they’d like to come with you. Most people are going to be interested in doing a lot of the same things, so it’s very likely someone will say yes. This is easier to do if you’ve already introduced yourself to everyone (ahem, tip number 1). Just a quick “hey, what are you up to today?” will do. And if they don’t have anything specific planned (or if you don’t), it’s likely you’ll end up finding something to do together.
7. Just Start a Conversation
You can do all of the above and try to make friends in the most casual way possible, but at the end of the day, you just have to start talking to people. Some people might be shy or they might be afraid to talk to you. While most people staying in hostels are there to be social, a lot of them are going to be just as nervous as you are about meeting new people.
So suck it up and go say hi to someone, ask them the basic traveler questions, and get the conversation going. Ask them what they’ve done so far in the area and get some recommendations. If one person shows no interest in being friends, go start a conversation with someone else. Don’t be shy, just say hi!
Here are a few easy questions and conversation starters:
- Where are you from?
- How long have you been here?
- What made you want to visit (insert current destination)?
- Have you done anything interesting yet? What should I see while I’m here?
- Are there any cheap restaurants nearby?
- Do you have any future travel plans?
Yes, everyone hears these questions all the time, but it’s the only way to get talking! Once you get the basics out of the way, you might find even more common ground and the conversation will take care of itself.
I hope these tips can help you meet people in hostels. Just be open, be friendly, be kind, and you’ll have some new friends before you know it!
More Hostel Tips:
- Hostel Etiquette: 10 Things NOT to Do in a Hostel
- Essential Hostel Packing List
- Introvert’s Guide to Hostel Life
More Solo Travel Tips:
- 12 Things to Do by Yourself on Vacation
- 6 Life Skills You Learn as a Solo Traveler
- The Truth About My First Solo Travel Experience
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Photos in this post were sourced via Unsplash.