How to Make Friends in Hostels
Updated: Jan 28, 2019
While hostels aren't for everyone, they come with a heck of a lot more benefits than you think. Whether you're here simply because you're nervous about an upcoming stay at one or would like to enhance your hostel experience, this list has just about everything you need to know to enrich your time in a new country.
Know what type of hostel to look for
When it comes to making friends, the type of hostel you wish to stay at matters a lot. Avoid choosing hostels that allow children; these are the type of hostels that will have families staying at them, and you can bet your bottom Ringgit that they'd much rather have some family time than make friends with strangers. Instead, keep an eye out for hostels that have communal areas and social nights--these are the hostels that encourage socialising among guests.
Always stay in a dorm room
I know how tempting it can be to have your own private room (yes, some hostels do have these!), but if you'd like to make friends while staying at a hostel, then you should always, always, always stay in a dorm room. Say "hi" to your roommates the moment you enter the room to avoid an awkward stay. And if you'd like to take it further than that, you'd have to know how to judge the situation--just ask a quick question and if it seems like they're open to more conversation, then bingo! If not, then it's time to move on.
Grab a bar stool
The reason why I say you should grab a bar stool is because when you sit by yourself at the bar, there would be little invitation for others to join you. This isn't quite the case when you're sitting at a bar stool, however. This way, you'd find it easier to strike up a conversation with whoever comes up to order a drink or whoever comes to sit down right next to you. And if no one wants to chat with you, the hostel staff usually will! Pretty great, huh?
Take part in group events
This one is a no-brainer. If you'd like to increase your chances of making friends, then take part in group events. Some hostels offer free tour guides, some offer free cooking classes, some offer evening dinners--whichever it is that is right up your alley, go on ahead and sign up for it! And because you would be grouped with other guests who have a common interest (aside from your interest in the country you're in), it would be easier to make new friends.
Cook a meal
Cooking a meal at the shared kitchen is a great way to meet new people. You'll be working together with other people to create your own meals in a relatively small space and you'll also have a little something to fill in any spaces of silence. For instance, you could ask them, "What are you having for dinner?", "Do you know any cheap markets around here?" or even "Do you know any good places to eat here?". Before you know it, you could be chatting away about your travel plans--just don't be afraid to break the ice!
Wake up for breakfast
If the hostel you chose offers a free breakfast, then you've got yet another way to make friends handed right out to you. Breakfast is the time when just about all hostel guests would gather at the dining area, ready for their free meal. This is the perfect opportunity to share a table with other guests, or to spot another solo traveler like yourself.
It is also during this time that people would talk about their plans for the day. You could ask them about it, and who knows, you might just end up with an unexpected recommendation!
Get to know the staff
Unlike hotels, hostel staff are generally encouraged to be a part of the hostel. This is precisely what sets them apart from hotels--hostels have a more personal touch than hotels do. So if you're keen to make friends with someone new, don't rule out the hostel staff. They're just about always friendly and are usually the ones who know so many of the other guests! This is especially true if said guests are long-stayers.
Hang out in communal areas
Unless they have headphones on or are working away on their laptop, I can just about guarantee you that whoever is sitting alone in a communal area wants someone to talk to them. If they didn't, they would have done either one of the two of the aforementioned, or be in bed. They might, however, be shy, so don't be afraid to say "hi" first!
If you're traveling with the opposite gender, though, people might find you difficult to approach--which is why if you'd like to make some friends, you and your traveling partner should hang out apart for a bit.
Written by Crunch's Melissa Kartini