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.
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.
Danielle is a travel finance strategist, writer, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 25 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.