Are you traveling alone for the first time? Super shy and want to step out of your shell? In a hostel by yourself, surrounded by people that look like they’re having a good time, but just don’t know how to make friends?
We’ve all been there.
I’ve been traveling by myself for a few years now, so making hostel friends comes fairly easy for me most of the time. But sometimes you are the “newbie” in the hostel, everyone else has been there for days together, and you don’t know how to just squeeze into the group. Sometimes it takes you a little while to loosen up and get a feel for the atmosphere of the hostel before you open up. EITHER WAY! Here are some good ways to not feel alone when you’re….well….alone.
1) Make use of the common areas
Listen, hostels don’t have common areas for no reason. This is where other travelers are going to hangout, chat, and spend their hungover afternoons. When searching for hostels on HostelWorld, make sure you find one with at least one good common area. Some have TV rooms, some have game rooms, some have rooms with giant bean bags….you get my point. This will be a good starting point to catch the vibe of the hostel and potentially make some new friends!
2) Stay in dorm rooms – roommates are friends!
This is super important. If you’re going to travel alone and you want to make friends, it’s probably not a good idea to stay in a hotel or book that private room at the hostel. Dorm rooms are THEE spot to meet fellow travelers. You gotta know your roomies. If you hear someone talking about something you may be interested in, ask a question. If you hear an accent you recognize, pop the “Are you from ____?” question. Starting conversations with your bunk mates is an easy route to making travel friends.
3) Use the kitchen
Sounds kind of random….but cooking and using hostel kitchens is also a really great way to make pals. There’s a few different ways you can use kitchens in order to so. For example, cook a little more than normal and offer it to someone that may be sitting down at a table somewhere. Ask if they’re hungry because you made extra food….then you’ll be sitting and eating lunch with them in no time! If you have extra ingredients and other people are cooking, offer to share….start a conversation. Or if you’re sharing kitchen space with others, just ask “ooo, what are you cooking?” and begin conversation from there. Sounds funny – but it works…..really….I do this all of the time!
4) Join hostel activities
From pub crawls, to English lessons, to BBQ’s, to dance classes….the possibilities are endless…..and it’s perhaps the best way to gather friends in your hostel. One minute you’re walking to the first bar, chatting with everyone and saying where you’re from….the next you’re taking your 4th tequila shot together and dancing to “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira in the best night club in town. Joining a show, English course, cooking class, or whatever else activity there could be….you’re not going to be the only traveler wanting to make friends. In a lot of hostels there are cook outs and BBQ’s (especially Argentina and Brazil). First off – the food is incredible, do it just for this if anything. Secondly, gathering around a table with a bunch of travelers waiting for fresh food to be served is a perfect opportunity to begin conversations.
5) Use breakfast time as your advantage
Hostels that offer breakfast……YES. Especially if it’s included 😉 Breakfast is loved by most travelers…..they wake up at 8 AM to get their free toast and cornflakes, okay? So if you do the same…..you will come across your new breakfast buddies. Wake up in the morning and take advantage of the breakfast. Walk into the breakfast area in your PJs and one eye open and grab your coffee. You’ll have little conversations as you’re making your way around the bread and cheese section and then you can sit with them afterwards. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, RIGHT?
6) SPEAK. UP.
Unless you’re super super super super shy, just say HELLO. This is the most “intimidating”, perhaps. But almost ALWAYS will the other people in your hostel welcome you with open arms. If you see a group of people sitting around outside or in the dining area, walk up and say “Can I join?” or “Hi guys, my name is ___!”. 9.9/10 they will respond with “OF COURSE!” or “HI KIM! I’m ____ from ___” and go around introducing themselves.
7) Hostel has a bar? Great, grab a seat.
If you’re staying at a hostel with a bar…..grab a beer, a stool, and say hello. Either to the bartender (who can also be a great friend to have, am I right?) or to the others at the bar. Drinks make you more friendly….so this is a great way to loosen up and become a little more outgoing.
We’ve all had our lonely days while traveling solo, but hopefully these little tips will help you step out of your comfort zone and give you an idea on how to spark conversation.
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