Making new friends during my travels has given me some of the most weird and wonderful experiences.
Growing up I was diagnosed for having anxiety and fluctuating depression, always an introvert who never quite fit in.
Being in a large group didn’t appeal to me, the thought of having to shout over people (and potentially making a fool out of myself) had me screaming internally.
Travel was different and you really do meet people from all walks of life and backgrounds, in a sense it made me feel I was actually a part of something bigger and that’s what brought us together was our similar desires of wanderlust.
I felt that deep down we were almost all ‘loners’, the lone wolves in our own right, each of us on our own journey – but together creating an eclectic bunch.
Travel has allowed me to truly express and reinvent myself. Reminding me that these people didn’t know of my past and that therefore couldn’t judge by those actions.
I felt that I could connect more to others here than back home.
When reminiscing, all of these memories of the amazing people I met along the way (as well as some assholes) I can’t help but laugh and think ‘wow what an adventure’
Some of which I met over 8 years ago and still remain friends to this day.
Meeting these lovely ladies in Venice.
So how to make friends at the hostel?
(even if you’re the anxious type)
Here are my top 10 pointers
1. Research research research!
It’s always a great idea to research the hostels beforehand, almost all hostels include reviews online, some of the best websites to check out are; Hostelworld, Hostelbookers, Booking.com and airbnb. This way you can pick and choose any kind of hostel atmosphere you’re looking for.
Do you prefer a lively party setting, a quiet hostel or even an art hostel?
2. Stay in a dorm
This is an obvious choice but it really does make a difference. Shared dorms are a fantastic way to mingle and get to know other people. The size of the dorm is up to you.
I find that a smaller dorm of around 4 to 8 people rather than 12+ really allows me the opportunity to speak and get to know people individually.
If you’re not really into sharing with lots of people you can opt for a smaller dorm or private room of about 2 to 3 people, the perks to this mean less noise, less snoring and getting to avoid less chance of squeaky bunk beds.
On the downside though, private smaller rooms may cost more.
I have a dedicated post on My Favourite Hostels in Europe
3. Join a project
Do you like to help around the hostel? Are there art classes or book clubs? A walking tour?
These are great ways to meet people with similar interests, chances are you will meet other solo travelers getting involved.
These are often so much more laid back and relaxing projects to get involved in.
Never be ashamed to feel the need to take a break, large groups can be quite overwhelming.
Simply politely dismiss yourself from the group and take a few moments to gather yourself, sit somewhere quiet, go for a walk or practice some breathing exercises, this is a great page Headspace which includes lots of tips and meditation advice.
5. Seek out other solo travellers
Chances are these people may be in the same situation as you, try to make polite conversation and introduce yourself, I find this much easier when it’s just one other person rather than a large group. (Groups can be intimidating, especially if they are travelling together)
Other solo travellers may be just as anxious or as lonely for some companionship too.
6. Be open minded
Travel really opens your mind to new ideas and views.
Listen to what others have to say and respect their culture and opinions. Engage in some conversation and remember not to sell yourself short, share your stories and experiences, people will be more interested than you realise.
Just try not come across as a brag. Nobody likes a brag.
We’ve all met them, the guy in the hostel who likes to show off about how many countries he’s been too or tells people how they’re not real travellers because they went to X tourist location.
7. Try to be social
I know this is difficult for some but do try, if you’re not into rowdy bars then try the lounge area or communal kitchen.
Try not to use your phone as a shield and ignore what’s going on to avoid others.
Try not to be that person who hides themselves away in their dorm room. Join on with board games, pool matches and even ask if people would like a hand with cooking.
You will be surprised just how much you will learn, ask them what they’re cooking.
8. Online Travel Groups/Communities
One of my greatest discoveries was finding a great community online called Girls Love Travel – that have a very popular Facebook and Instagram page as well as off shoot pages for local areas in your country.
They often arrange meet ups.
I also recommend to my friend that they check out this page and post asking about any meet ups in their area or any upcoming gatherings in the near future along your travels.
This is a great opportunity to arrange to meet individuals on your travels.
Really check out this page.
9. Share a skill or hobby
Do you know another language, are you able to help somebody with their English, it’s surprising how many people (or at least in my experiences) have asked me to help them with their English.
Can you play guitar, are you a great cook? Share these skills.
10. Be proud of your achievements
Going alone out into the world is both exciting and stressful at the same time. However do take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come.
Give yourself credit for successfully planning and executing this trip. Realise and appreciate your bravery… getting on that plane, finding your way to the hostel and settling in the best you can, even if you do need to pause from time to time.
Seriously, you’re a badass! You’ve got this!
I hope these tips will help you on your ways to making great friends and greater memories. Below I will include a few extra tips to take note.
Always remember – with anxiety…
- People are not always out to get you
- Not everybody is judging you
- If you need to take a break, politely excuse yourself
- You don’t always have to say yes to invites
- You don’t always have to be around people 24/7
- Do enjoy your own company
- Talk to people, you will be surprised how many people do understand and can relate
- Remember to breathe
- Anxiety has a good way of making us think something bad is going to happen, even if nothing has happened yet, remember it’s just a mind trick
- Be proud of what you have achieved so far
- Have fun
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog, I really hope this will help some of you out there.
If there is anything I have missed and would like me to include then feel free to comment below or find me on Facebook and Instagram.
Happy (safe) travels!