Making friends at a hostel in 6 easy ways.

If you’re worried about feeling lonely when traveling solo, I’m here to reassure you. You have nothing (or very little) to worry if you stay at a hostel. Since hostels thrive on social interaction, meeting people and making friends at hostels when traveling solo can be a lot easier than you think. At hostels meet other travelers just about anywhere – in your dorm room, the common areas or at hosted events.

I started staying at hostels after my first solo trip to Paris. After staying at a hotel and not interacting with anyone except for the hotel staff for five days, I remember sobbing on my hotel floor one night. Despite having a fantastic time touring the city, I missed my family and friends because I was lonely. Since then, I haven’t felt that way because I frequently stay at hostels.

And so my recent trip to Iceland reminded me of the importance of making connections with other travelers when traveling, be it solo or in a group. Making friends at hostels when traveling solo not only combats loneliness but you’ll meet so many interesting people from all walks of life. Making friends at hostels also deepens your travel experiences. When you think back on your trip, you’ll remember all the things you saw and did as well as who you were with.


Making Friends At Hostels In Iceland

I will never forget the first time I tried Skyr with one of my new friends from Singapore. Or when I almost tipped over a candle at a restaurant with my roommate from Colorado. I made three new friends during my hostel stay in Iceland and I met so many other people that I eventually stopped keeping count. But this doesn’t only apply to solo travelers, it also applies to couples who stay at hostels too. Hostels push couples outside of their comfort zones and it’s a chance for couples to reconnect in new ways as friends.

So if you’re considering staying at a hostel when traveling solo and want to make friends, here are six friend-making tips that work like a charm.


How To Make Friends At Hostels

6 Tips For Long Lasting Hostel Friendships


Start With A Warm Hello

First things first, when you open the door to your hostel for the first time, if anyone is awake, introduce yourself with a smile. I know, it’s a simple gesture but it goes a long way.

Even if you’re exhausted, try not to just walk in, drop your bags and start doing your own thing. You may come off as rude which makes making friends at hostels a lot harder. Don’t forget that first impressions count for something.

Also, when new hostel guests come in, the same thing applies, introduce yourself with a smile.


Related: Hostel Packing List: 11 Essential Things To Take


Spark A Conversation

It doesn’t take a lot to get a conversation started in your dorm room. Everyone will be curious to know who you are and where you come from. Deep down, we’re all looking for ways to relate and connect with each other.

I find these seven questions universal and a great way to spark an interesting conversation.

  • Where are you from?
  • Is this your first time here?
  • How many days are you in town for?
  • Is this the only city that you’re visiting?
  • What activities do you have planned?
  • What activities have you done so far?
  • Any restaurant recommendations?


Spend Time In Common Areas

Although staying in your room can be tempting, especially after a long day of sightseeing, make it a point to hang out in the common areas of the hostel. Chill out on a couch or head to the dining areas and read a book or browse Facebook. Better yet, participate in any of the organized activities led by the hostel like guided tours, pub crawls or cultural dinners. Hostel bars are another great place to socialize and make friends.


Acknowledge Familiar Faces

I shouldn’t have to explicitly say this but when you see a familiar face around the hostel, say hello. Don’t be that person who pretends that you never met someone. This rubs people the wrong way – with good reason.


Offer to Go Out to Eat

Be inclusive and ask everyone in the room if they would like to join you in getting something to eat. I usually just announce it loudly and if anyone wants to join, they just let me know.

Food and drinks always bring people together.


Related: HI Baltimore Hostel Review 


Share Plans and Debrief Daily

At the end of the day, I like to ask about everyone’s plans for tomorrow. The next day I can follow-up and ask how everything went. By sharing plans, you might learn something new to add to your itinerary or you might find a companion to join you in an activity.

Be open to the opportunities!

During my first trip to Iceland, after I mentioned touring the South Coast of Iceland, one of my roommates booked the tour joined me. We quickly became fast friends and we keep in touch years later.


Connect on Social Media

Lastly, you know you’ve made a friend when you start sharing social media profiles. Keep in touch and tag each other in pictures and posts. You never know when you guys might meet again.

34 replies
  1. Bailey K. says:

    Even though I don’t usually travel solo, I still love getting to know people at hostels. I just love hearing about different lives from all around the globe!

  2. Izzy Pulido says:

    One of my favorite parts about traveling and using hostels is all the great people you come across! There are hostel atmospheres that are more geared towards meeting people (I always look for ones with big common rooms) but I’ve been seeing a new wave of trendy hostels step into the limelight. I stayed at one in Dublin called Generator Hostel and it was less intimate than what I’m accustomed too. But you’re right, one mention of food and everyone becomes friends!

  3. Claire and Rosemary says:

    What a great post and ways to connect when traveling. Especially love and agree with the idea that “food brings people together.” Agree, we’ve met some wonderful people at hostels and gotten some really good tips on what to do in the local area. Great post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. Wander With Jo says:

    You are absolutely right. My first solo trip was full of ifs and butts about social interaction – 2 hours after landing into Vientienne I was clicking pics in a hostel with people I just met. Its so easy to make friends in hostels thats why I always book a hostel if I am traveling solo – always!

  5. Karla Strand says:

    Good suggestions! It’s amazing what a smile and a simple kind question can do. I prefer hostels and backpackers as well, so much more authentic and fun. Thanks for sharing these reminders; I love your blog!

  6. Sarah Harvey says:

    Lovely tips! I stayed at many hostels during my 3 month trip to Italy and loved making friends there! There are a few @$! holes who think they travel better than everyone else but other than that, loved it!

  7. Ann says:

    Great tips, talking to a bunch of strangers can be one of the most intimidating things when you first start traveling solo.

  8. Bizarre Globe Hopper/Piritta says:

    Well, we don’t stay in hostels anymore when traveling, but I sure remember some real fun moments from my twenties from hostels, i.e. from Mongolia. 🙂

  9. Untold Morsels says:

    Wonderful tips. I had a fantastic experience when I was solo travelling in Portugal at a lovely art hostel. The hostel ran free walking tours and I met some great people that way. Of course, as you mention, sharing a meal is an almost foolproof way to get to know someone. Happy travels!

  10. miieloise says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips! I’m a bit of an introvert and it was always an effort for me to make new friends at hostels when I started travelling. It gets easier with time and experience for sure! I love asking for people’s plans for the next day as it can be a great way to get inspired, or even to join them if it is exciting and there is room!

  11. Vyjay Rao says:

    These are great tips to break the ice and bond while traveling, traveling solo has its bonuses but you a friendly chat over dinner, a shared experience, new friends, all contribute to making traveling such a great experience.

  12. Mel (illumelation) says:

    Such great tips! The best friends I have ever made on the road have all been relationships initiated with a simple “hello”. If travelling for an extended period of time I’ll probably always stay in a hostel.

  13. Anisa Alhilali says:

    These are great tips to help make friends in lots of situation. I can see how it would work especially well in a hostel environment.

  14. Jamporter says:

    These are great tips, especially getting the conversation started! These are all things I do and recommend doing in hostels to get the convo going. I’ve had some great meals with people I met in hostels 🙂

  15. Chantell Collins says:

    So true and great tips! I felt so bad when you said you got lonely staying in a hotel but I totally agree. It is impossible to make friends in a hotel while traveling solo but hostels are made for it! Great to hear you have made some great friends along the way!

    • Danielle Desir says:

      I was in Paris, the city I dreamed about for so long all sad and lonely. It made no sense and I’ve since learned that I do much better in social settings, plus there’s economic benefits in staying at hostels.

  16. Travel Pockets says:

    Although I’ve never tried traveling solo these all sound like great tips! Starting a conversation is absolutely key 🙂 I remember reading your other post about the trip you planned to Iceland that started out rocky (still can’t believe those two girls didn’t pick you up liked planned!), but ended up being an amazing trip.

  17. Amanda Williams says:

    All good advice and I have to admit that hotels are much more isolating than hostels. But at my age I like the comfort of a hotel tbh. One of the best things about travel if the friends you meet a long the way though.

  18. Paige Brown says:

    These are great tips! It can be really hard to make friends when traveling solo, but you’re right stay at a hostel makes it much easier – as does Couchsurfing. I love making friends on the road and many of the people I’ve met I’m still in contact with! This guide is perfect for people new to solo travel! Cheers!

  19. Cassie @ Cass Travels says:

    It’s been years since I’ve stayed in a hostel but always found it was a great way to meet like-minded travellers! Sadly this was before the days of connecting via social media, so we haven’t been able to keep in touch, but I have great memories!

  20. Patricia Steffy says:

    I’m super shy, and I’ve never stayed at a hostel. But I definitely do see how the experience could lead to a happier travel experience, and, in some cases, real friendships. I think it’s great that you are so outgoing, and I think your tips really work in many travel environments — heck, they could even work when meeting other travel writers on assignment!

  21. Robert Doyle says:

    I had a great experience hosteling years ago in the UK. I met some great people at a hostel in York and we all went out together one night as the hostel was right in the town. Coincidentally, a few days later when I had made my way to the Lake District, I bumped into three of the same group again! So we repeated our adventures, but brought a whole new group of Americans, Canadians, Australian, New Zealanders, and Germans. I half remember a very boisterous meal together at a pub followed by a long walk (and maybe a stumble or too 😉 ) back to the hostel. Good times, and this post brought it back for me! I did love that aspect of hostels. Everyone staying at one is traveling, everyone is on some form of budget, everyone is looking to have some fun so it makes great sense to not be shy and just enjoy the time.

  22. Luxury Travel Diva says:

    These are good tips, I’m sure most people are keen to make friends or have chat if nothing else. I guess it is important to steer clear of over-friendly fellow guests too!

  23. Stephanie Rose says:

    These are great tips! Hostels are by nature much friendlier. Sometimes I will just go out to eat alone and sit at the bar. I’ve met quite a few people that way as well! Met another one Saturday night while waiting for my lady friends. I always meet such interesting people when traveling!


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