Having backpacked through Europe and Australia on my own several years ago, I know first-hand how hard it can be to get talking to people you’ve never met before. You get used to travelling alone and keeping yourself company, but why not take this opportunity to make friends from all over the world?
Hostels are a haven for new friendships, sharing stories and exchanging advice on trips to take. Here are some tips that helped me to make friends on the road that I hope will encourage you to say hello too.
The first friends I made in a hostel were two great guys in Nice, Southern France - Alec and Scott. Having made it to the same hostel from Canada and Australia, Alec and Scott were also making their way across the world and had gotten good at making friends along the way. Where did I meet them? In what should be considered as the heart of every hostel; the kitchen! Every person staying at the hostel will need to use these amenities at some point, so there’ll always be someone there. Why not take the plunge and go and say “hi”? Ask where they’re from and where they’re headed. It worked for me, and I had dinner with Scott and Alec that night and the following night. A simple hello can work a treat. Chances are that they are wanting to say hello too!
Another hotspot to get chatting to people – dorm rooms. Like-minded people in the same place as you for the same reason, how could you not get chatting to them about what you’ve been getting up to?! For me, dorm rooms in various hostels were where I got some of the best travel advice that made my trips even more memorable, and that I still use today. Additionally, invite them along to where you’re headed for the day. Why not keep each other company on a walk around the city and exchange stories?
It is also common for hostels to host their own events. For example, many around Australia often arrange trips to a local beach for a barbecue. Before travelling, be sure to have a look at your chosen hostel’s website or social media pages to see what they have going on. That way, there will be plenty of sympathetic people to start a conversation with and you’ll be prepared to get talking. Other events I attended included a “champagne party”, and a weekly pizza and beer night. Don’t be afraid to go along – a debate about Australian cider versus British cider was a great starting point for me one evening!
Almost everyone that I met during my backpacking days was willing to sit and hear about where I was from and where I was going. Many of these fellow travellers I still keep in touch with today. No matter where in the world you’re planning on visiting, there will be someone who wants someone to talk travel – be brave, and say the first hello!