It should come as no surprise that a large number of my friends today are people I first met in hostels. But at the start of my travels I was so nervous that travelling solo meant I would always be alone. I honestly had no idea how to make friends in hostels!
Over the years, most of those nerves have vanished. I still get butterflies when I get to a new hostel and have to meet all new people, all over again. And I still walk around like a bit of a loose end until I find my groove in that new hostel.
But after a few years of experience I finally have a few options to choose from when it comes to making friends in hostels today. One of my favourite ways is to sit at the hostel bar. But if there isn’t a bar, then I’ll try something else.
So before you read about how to make friends in hostels, it’s good to understand that these are only my tried and tested options. Other travellers you’ll meet may have found their fail-safe method, and eventually you’ll find yours! But to get you started, here is my guide on how to make friends in hostels!
How To Make Friends In Hostels
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Take Part in Group Events
Group walking tours and pub crawls that leave from the hostel are a great way to make friends in a hostel! Similarly, if the hostel runs any group events like cooking classes or evening dinners, then this is another way to meet other guests.
Often, it can be daunting to join a walking tour alone. Especially if it seems that everyone else is with their friends or partner. In fact, just last week I was on a tour in which no one spoke to me for the first ten minutes and I started to feel like a spare part. But soon enough I ended up walking alongside someone who had been separated from their friends, and we got chatting right away!
^ On a group tour in Montenegro – read about it here.
Grab a Bar Stool
When people ask me how to make friends in hostels while travelling solo – this is always my number one piece of advice! And it’s not because I love beer…I promise!
The reason I love bar stools so much is because you’re making it clear that you’re alone and open to meeting others. If you a visit a bar with friends, then you end up sat around a table with little invitation for others to join you. When you’re sat at the bar, you have the opportunity to say hi to anyone who comes up to buy a drink, which can just as easily lead to a conversation.
It’s also a great way to get to know the bar and hostel staff. And if no ones wants to chat to you – the hostel staff usually will!
^ Hanging out in Generator Hostel’s Rooftop Bar in Paris.
Wake Up For Breakfast
Breakfast time (especially free hostel breakfasts!) is the period when you’re almost guaranteed to be in the vicinity of all the other guests staying at the hostel. Which means it will be easy to share a table with other guests, or spot the guests that are travelling solo just like you.
Breakfast time is also the time when a lot of guests make plans for the rest of the day. So if you had a great time with a few people in the common area the night before, go sit with them at breakfast and see what their plans are for the day!
^ Full English Breakfast at St Christopher’s Inn Liverpool Street – read the review here.
Get To Know The Staff
Hostel staff are a very big reason I love hostels as much as I do! Down to earth, full of energy and always friendly, getting to know the hostel staff is a great way to make friends in hostels because they often know so many of the other guests!
Whether they work in the bar, run the tours, take guests surfing or run the reception desk, hostel staff are often encouraged to be a part of the hostel. This is what makes them different from hotel staff, who often are there to do a professional job and go home.
So whether you end up making new friends with the staff, or meet other guests while hanging out with the staff, getting to know them is one of my best tips in this guide on how to make friends in hostels!
^ Spending Valentine’s Day 2017 with the staff of Hostel ROOM Rotterdam!
Use The Kitchen
Many hostels have a guest kitchen, where you can cook your own food for lunch or dinner. Which makes them a great place to bond over a shared love of cooking, or to get chatting with other guests using the kitchen at the same time.
Sharing dinners is also a great method of getting to know other guests. If you make extra, offer it to other people hanging out in the kitchen and invite them to join you for dinner.
^ The refurbished guest kitchen at MEININGER Amsterdam – read the review here.
Interact With Your Roommates
Sharing a dorm room can seem daunting to many. But walking into a dorm room that you’re sharing with five other people also gives you the opportunity to make five new friends!
The easiest way to get chatting to your roommates is when you first arrive. Especially if you’re shy or introverted, then saying hello as soon as you walk in the room is a great way to get it over with and introduce yourself! And then just start asking questions, like where they’re from and how long they’re staying for. Before you know it, you might just find something in common!
^ My favourite dorm room in Hostel ROOM Rotterdam – read the review here.
I know, this sounds completely random. But while some hostels are small and cosy with a few rooms, others can hold as many as 200 beds!
So if you’re not meeting anyone you click with in your room or at the bar, see if you match with anyone close by on Tinder. Then just arrange to meet in reception and hey presto you may have just found a new travel buddy!
Be Open To Meeting People
Above all, don’t let fear or shyness stop you from being open to meeting other guests in your hostel. Walking in to a common room or dormitory full of people can be daunting – especially if you’re naturally introverted.
But you have to remember that hostels bring together other people who are just like you! All of you have found yourself in a hostel for one of a number of reasons, whether that’s to save money, have great experiences, or experience life on the road. So be open to those people, and you may just discover that talking to strangers isn’t always a bad thing.
^ Tommi and I in the Moroccan desert after meeting via Couchsurfing at The Lunar Surf House!
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I wrote this guide on how to make friends while travelling solo because so many of you have emailed me to find out my top tips on the subject. So remember, if you are ever nervous about travelling alone, you can always drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send me a message on Facebook or Twitter.
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And finally, if you have figured out how to make friends in hostels and have more tips for our community, make sure to leave a comment below!