One of the big advantages of staying at a hostel is the ever-present social character. It is the perfect spot to mingle with more travelers, sharing time and travel anecdotes. It is also a great way to get travel recommendations on what to do and what not to do, hints on how to find cheaper transport, secret tips and so on. Making friends in hostels is easier than you think.
Come on, we all go to hostels to not stay on our own in a boring hotel room. We want to meet people, laugh and have fun!
In this guide we share 9 simple travel tips for making friends in hostels.
By the end of it, you're going to have firm answers to questions like...
- What are good ways to make friends in hostels?
- How do you make friends traveling alone?
Come on, let's jump in!
- 1. Pick the right Type of Hostel to stay at
- 2. Check the Black Board/ Bulletin Board
- 3. Pin something on the black board!
- 4. Hostel Events - Party, BBQs, Cooking classes
- 5. Join the Hostel Kitchen
- 6. Spot a Foosball or Pool Billiard? Use it as an Ice-breaker
- 7. Party time? Invite people for a drink
- 8. Have a drink with the Receptionist(s)
- 9. The simple rule: Talk first
- Summary: Making Friends in Hostels
1. Pick the right Type of Hostel to stay at
There are different types of hostels out there, and when you are looking for a hostel with a very social atmosphere, there are certain things you have to look out for.
Some hostels are more social than others. Make sure you know first what type of hostel you want to stay in. A party hostel is different from a cosy homely hostel — both social though, so make sure you know what you want!
Check out the hostel reviews to get an idea of their character. Another great indicator are the photos the hostel puts online. Do they show many people, or events? This is a clear sign! A rule of thumb to notice if a hostel is truly a place to meet more people is by checking out if the following is available: Living room, tours, kitchen, any types of games and most of all; events!
Top tip: Always stay in a dorm rather than a private room - it's so much easier to meet people this way.
2. Check the Black Board/ Bulletin Board
This is THE one board you have to keep an eye on! On the blackboard at hostels you will find all the things going on inside and outside the hostel. From tours, events, happy hours, classes, courses, and maybe even the weather forecast. The bulletin board is a perfect calendar to know what’s up!
If you cannot find the black board, simply ask the hostel workers. They know what events and tours that are coming up. And whilst you are talking to them, ask them for a drink. More about this later.
3. Pin something on the black board!
What now?! We have seen hostels allowing their guests to pin their own questions on the pin board. Here travelers can ask others to join a specific tour, activity, or perhaps share the cost of a bus to the next destination.
Are you familiar with Escape Rooms? They are very trendy and geeky, and you can find them throughout many destinations now. I mention this one as it is a perfect example. These escape rooms usually require a minimum amount of players. So if you are a solo traveler, ask other guests if they want to join. Pinning your idea on the board does not cost anything. And yes: you can also ask people in person. After all, you need a smart one to join you to solve the riddles in the Escape room.
Otherwise, invite people to a BBQ or Potluck dinner, host a movie night or simply write an uplifting message to brighten someone’s day!
4. Hostel Events - Party, BBQs, Cooking classes
Events! How hard can it be to meet people during a hostel event? There are many different types of events you can join at hostels such as cooking classes, language courses, parties, boat trips, game nights, concerts, karaoke, competitions, BBQs, group tours - you name it.
This is your perfect chance to meet people with a guarantee of almost 100%.
Another easy place to socialise is at the hostel bar, if there is one.
Events are also a prime example of why hostel life is better than real life.
5. Join the Hostel Kitchen
It is actually unbelievable how many things you can learn in a hostel kitchen. Here is where you will find different dishes from all over the world!
When someone is cooking a dish you have never seen before, smells delicious or makes you curious, well, point it out! Ask what they are cooking there. If they are rustling up a tasty dish, chances are they are happy to talk about it.
And hey, if you try some really good food, make sure you ask how they did it. This is the perfect cooking class!
6. Spot a Foosball or Pool Billiard? Use it as an Ice-breaker
We have to confess: we love foosball!
And it is actually incredible how many people we met all over the world playing foosball at hostels and bars. It is the easiest way to get in contact with people. Play a round of foosball, and then have a drink afterwards. A perfect ice-breaker!
7. Party time? Invite people for a drink
The day is gone, the night is coming. The people are back at the hostel after a long day out exploring the destination, surfing and so on. This is the time to slow down and have a drink - alcoholic or non-alcoholic, it does not matter! Invite someone you would like to talk to for a drink.
Simple as that. You are staying at the same place anyway.
8. Have a drink with the Receptionist(s)
Hostel staff are usually social animals! And certainly most of them love to hang out with the guests in the common area. After all, this is one of the advantages of working in a hostel.
Invite the receptionist for a drink. You will be sitting around the lounge or common room and it is very likely that it will entice other guests to join you!
9. The simple rule: Talk first
Wondering how to start conversations and make friends? Simply; talk!
This is the most important rule ever to meet new people and for making friends in hostels: do not be shy, just talk! Everything we mentioned above will not be successful if you do not talk. Plus, it's free!
People staying at hostels most likely decided to stay there because of the social atmosphere (and perhaps the price).
However, hostel travelers know they are at a hostel and that it is a perfect spot to meet and chat to random people. This is nothing odd or weird. It is super normal! So, try to talk to people first! Nosy at what they’re doing, suss out what they are interested in and start talking. For instance, someone is looking at some flyers for tours? Talk with him/her about it, maybe you did it already or you have the same plan?
Again: don’t be shy and just talk! Eye contact and a smile also goes a long way.
And remember, many amazing stories start with a simple "hi".
Summary: Making Friends in Hostels
Making friends in hostels is easy, because hostels are social! And many hostel managers like to point out that the S in Hostel stands for Social.
No doubt, this type of accommodation is a wonderful and easy way to connect. Take advantage of these unique opportunities of meeting more like-minded people. Once you connect, you will see how simple it is.
Don’t miss out and say Hi - it can make a big difference and lead to many unexpected outcomes!
Before you set off to explore hostel life, here are some useful guides to help you prepare further:
- Are Hostels Safe? 11 Safety Tips
- When to Book Hostels? For spontaneous souls & pre-planners
- 17 Tips for Sleeping & Staying in Hostels
- Find EVRY hostel you need with Hostelz. Why Hostelz? 7 simple reasons
Also! Don't forget to tick off everything from our packing guide for hostel backpackers.
How can I make good friends with people from other countries?
Be open, curious and aware of cultural differences. This will get you a long way! Ask questions about their country, learn some basic words of their language, share food and stories.
How do hostel friends become your second family?
New friends become lifelong friends (and even begin to feel like family members) when you put time and effort into the relationship. So, use hostel life as a good excuse to have fun and create memories together on a regular basis. Invite people out, show interest, spark deep conversation, make group dinners etc etc.
How can I stop feeling homesick in a hostel?
The more you socialise with people, the more likely you are to make friends, and the less likely you are to feel alone and homesick. Be honest about it; let someone in your dorm room know you're feeling homesick. They're sure to support you. No doubt every traveller has been through this as some stage - you're not alone.
How to make friends when travelling as a couple?
Did you know that some hostels have dorm rooms with double beds these days? Perfect for meeting people. Just make sure you spend more time in the social areas instead of hiding in your room. Approach solo travellers and join in activities.