If you’re worried about feeling lonely when traveling solo, I’m here to give you some solace. You have nothing (or very little) to worry if you stay at a hostel. Making friends comes with the territory. Hostels thrive on social interaction. You can meet other travelers in the dorm rooms, common areas or at events.
Years ago I tried staying at a hotel when traveling solo but by the fifth night, I was a wreck. Besides the hotel staff, I didn’t talk to anyone and I remember sobbing in my hotel room one night. I was lonely and sad. I missed my friends and family.
Since then, I haven’t felt that way, I owe it to staying at hostels!
My recent trip to Iceland reminded me of how important making connections with other travelers is when traveling, be it solo or in a group. Making friends at hostels not only combats loneliness but you meet so many interesting people from all walks of life. I’ve also found that making friends at hostels provides deeper context. When you think back on your trip, you’ll not only remember all the things you saw and did, but you’ll remember who you were with.
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 also applies to couples who stay at hostels. Hostels push couples outside of their comfort zones and it’s a chance to reconnect with each other as friends.
So if you’re considering staying at a hostel and want to make friends, here are six friend-making tips that work like a charm.
Ways Making Friends At Hostels Gets Easier
#1 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 guests come in, the same thing applies, introduce yourself with a smile.
#2 Start the 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 to each other.
I find these five questions universal and a great way to spark a 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?
#3 Acknowledge Familiar Faces
I shouldn’t have to explicitly say this (shaking my head), but when you see a familiar face, say hi. Don’t be that person who pretends that you never met someone. It rubs people the wrong way – with good reason.
#4 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 always brings people together.
#5 Share Plans and Debrief
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!
#6 Connect on Social Media
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.
Author: Danielle Desir
Danielle Desir is a Travel Finance Strategist that uses her financial background and knack for financial planning to empower those who want to travel afford travel and excel in their personal finances. She shares creative planning strategies, saving tips, cheap flight deals and even talks about her student loan repayment journey on her blog, The Thought Card. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 21 countries and 3 continents (and counting), all while paying off her student loans, saving for a house, owning a home, and working full-time.