An Introvert’s Guide to Making Friends in a Hostel 

After combing the internet for information about traveling solo over the last few years, I have noticed a common theme. Many solo travelers are introverts. They may not shout this information from every mountain top, but you pick up subtle mentions of their introverted tendencies in their writing. Sure, it makes sense on paper that people who like to be alone would travel by themselves, but dig a little deeper. Solo travelers have to put themselves out there. They have to reach out to strangers, approach people in bars and cafes, ask to join groups of travelers. Introverted people typically struggle with these interactions. So why then do so many introverts travel solo? I can’t speak for all of us, but my goal was to prove that I could. I used to be painfully shy. I couldn’t talk to strangers, and I have mentioned before that I couldn’t even call my dentist to make an appointment. I had slowly been breaking out of my shell over the past few years and I finally came to the conclusion that I needed to test my limits. I was going to travel solo for two weeks. Sure, that doesn’t sound like a daunting task to some people, but to me it meant that I was going to have to face my ultimate fears, rejection and being vulnerable in front of strangers.

Some people are afraid of heights, or spiders. I was afraid of the look on a strangers face when you ask a question so stupid that they don’t even know how to respond. You know the face, where someone scrunches up one side of their face, says”…uhhh I don’t know, sorry,” and walks away shaking their head. Ya…That’s the worst. I used to cringe just thinking about approaching a stranger in a coffee shop to ask for directions. I never went to summer camp or joined a sorority, how was I supposed to make friends in a hostel dorm room? I just wasn’t prepared for this. After I booked my flight, I laid awake at night for weeks thinking about the huge mistake I had just made. Sure, I liked being alone, but I was certain I was not going to speak to another person for two weeks. I just wouldn’t be able to approach a stranger and I knew no one in Europe at the time. At least I’d be able to finish all the books I had been meaning to read.

I arrived in Budapest and checked in to my first hostel. It was a very intimate space and I got a good vibe from the people managing the place. Right after I settled in, I sat down to have tea in the kitchen. A friendly looking blonde walked into the room, plopped down across from me at the table and extended her hand. “I’m Alice, what’s your name?”

Guys, I made a friend! I didn’t even have to do anything! My trip continued in a similar fashion and I was able to make friends nearly everywhere I went. After the first stop, I started to make up some rules for myself in regards to hostels so that I would give myself the best odds of meeting people easily. These are those rules.

An Introvert’s Guide to Making Friends in a Hostel

Stay at Hostels with Bars

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When I was in Europe, I used Hostel World to book rooms. I would typically do this on the train between one location and another. If I had been traveling longer and slower, I would have waited until I arrived to book accommodation, but that’s another story. I like reading the reviews on the app to figure out what places are more social and have common spaces to sit in. The best hostels I stayed in all had bars. Let’s be honest, it is much easier to approach a stranger and ask them to go to dinner with you if you have had a couple of drinks. Plus, everyone else is hanging out at the hostel bar because they are trying to meet people as well. Generally speaking, I didn’t have to approach anyone when I sat at the bar alone. It was only a matter of time before some lovely gentleman would approach me and say something suave like “What is such a beauty doing sitting alone at the bar? Come with me to my mansion and we will drink wine by the sea.” Wouldn’t that be nice? But really, I generally only had to hang out at the bar for about an hour before someone would come and hang out with me. It was really that easy.

Sit in Common Spaces

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Just to make sure you are paying attention. Sit in common spaces. If you don’t want to sit at the bar, choose the kitchen table or the lounge room. Most hostels have tons of space to just chill out and relax. Any of these spaces will offer you the opportunity to make friends pretty easily. Just don’t isolate yourself. I know it’s hard. If there are two hammocks that you want to sit in and one is near a group of people and one isn’t, choose the more social hammock. Then, once you have established your location, shout out something about your surroundings like “this hammock is pretty cool right… right?” *Dead silence*

Take the Free Walking Tour

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Most of the hostels I have stayed at offer some sort of activity like a pub crawl or walking tour. This is an awesome way to make friends because you will be forced to spend the next hour or so with each other. The goal here is to stand anywhere except the very back of the group while making general statements about whatever you see. “That is a beautiful building! Look at that statue. Who do I call about buying this castle?” Eventually someone will think your general ramblings are humorous and will strike up a conversation. Hello new walking tour friend.

Seek Out Other Solo Travelers

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I have found that it is way less intimidating to try to befriend other solo travelers than people in groups. People in groups are generally jerks. They have enough friends and they don’t need the strange girl from the hammock tagging along on their booze cruise. They came on this trip to spend time with their friends from home, not take care of the drunk American girl. However, solo travelers are typically more open and would love for you to tag along on their adventures. How do you identify a solo traveler? Well if you are out and about, just look for anyone with a selfie stick. Just kidding, everyone has one…right? If you are in the hostel, the solos will be sitting alone at the bar hopefully, unless they didn’t read this post… The best way  to approach other solos is to sit plop down next to them at the bar. (Have you noticed all my rules revolve around where you are located?) Once you have assumed the position, just introduce yourself. No opening line needed, just extend your hand. I mean it worked for Alice, as she got stuck with me for a few days, so it will probably work for you.

Now you know the rules I set for myself when I was traveling solo. These helped me meet some amazing people who I am still in contact with today. Because I was overcame my fear of rejection, and minimized the risk, I was able to open myself up to an experience that I never believed was possible. You can do it too, I believe in you.

Do you have any other tips on how to make friends while traveling solo? I would love to hear them! If you enjoyed this, as always, Pin away.

Happy Travels,

B

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girls vs globe linkup button

 

33 comments on “An Introvert’s Guide to Making Friends in a Hostel ”

  1. Sitting in common spaces is so true – just a smile and catching the right eye can be the start of a great travel friendship!

    1. B says:

      I agree! Sometimes even drinking dark beer is enough to spark a conversation 🙂

  2. Ghowneu says:

    I’ve never been or stayed at a hostel before! But reading this is a good tip! Thank you

  3. Tamz says:

    Common spaces and the bars – best ones to meet fellow travelers.
    Sometimes people just need to be an Alice 😀

    Traveling solo and being an introvert myself, I’ve made quite a few friends on walking tours and such other ones (trekking, snorkeling trips).

  4. Nikki says:

    Haha love this….I so very almost wrote a similar article myself! It can definitely be a challenge at times! Thank you for sharing your tips.

    1. B says:

      I figured there are a lot of introverts out there who are afraid of traveling solo, so it made sense to eliminate their fears! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  5. Isabel says:

    Now that you pointed out all the traits of being an introvert, I find myself being one too! No wonder this post caught my eye. 😉 your tips are so true & very helpful indeed!

  6. These are great tips 🙂 I was amazed when I first traveled years and years ago alone that sometimes I didn’t need to do a thing to find a friend! It’s been some years since I’ve travelled alone, would you also say that when sitting in public spaces to not be overall absorbed by you phone?

    1. B says:

      Absolutely a must not to be absorbed in your phone. When I am traveling, I don’t even take it out of my pocket other than to take photos. I have a post coming up about unplugging from technology to really experience life. Make sure you check it out 🙂 Happy Travels!

  7. Amber says:

    Great post! Love the tips, I’m glad to hear you had a good experience with making friends abroad 🙂

  8. This post is made for me! I agree, I think one of the best ways to make friends while traveling solo is to seek out other solo travelers!

    1. B says:

      Right? I was in Europe alone earlier this year and I spent all my time with other solos 🙂 It is just easier that way.

  9. Brian hughes says:

    Heh, you know I thought I was an introvert…but after reading this…I think I just might be! Haha! Cool post!

    1. B says:

      Thank you! I think everyone has a little introvert inside of them 😉

  10. As an introvert myself, it seems I always just gravitate towards the extroverts, and once they start a conversation, I feel much more comfortable and can be myself.

    1. B says:

      I had never really considered this actually… I tend to find a lot of extroverts overwhelming at first. Once I get to know them, it’s a different story hehe 🙂

  11. Haha I must say that during my first solo hostel experience in Rome, I only kind of semi-tried to talk to people. Just kind of awkwardly stood around while they were eating or else chatted a bit in the room. Otherwise being alone was the best part of Rome and it was awesome not bothering with anyone in the hostel. #introvertloveforever!

  12. Pippa says:

    I love this! Before I travelled solo I used to think I was an introvert, but now I’m not so sure, I think it depends on the day 😛 i’m glad i’m not the only one who makes ‘general comments’ about their surroundings and just hopes that somebody listens and responds, it’s a great tactic to make new friends. 🙂

    1. B says:

      I was hoping that I wasn’t the only one as well… 😉

  13. I totally agree with this! While I wouldn’t consider myself introverted I do get shy sometimes when travelling alone and these are great tips! 🙂

    Thanks a lot for joining the ‘Girls vs Globe’ linkup by the way! I just noticed your post is missing the banner though. Can you please get the HTML code for the banner here – http://pastebin.com/Mur3ULMz – and copy the ‘RAW paste data’ code into your text editor to make sure it works properly? <3 If you'd prefer the smaller button you can get the code for it here: http://pastebin.com/D8y3Mhe6 🙂

    1. B says:

      Absolutely, thanks for pointing out the miss. I will get that updated right away 🙂

  14. So interesting to read this article! I’ve never been shy, I don’t know how does it feel, really. And It’s interesting to see how a solo travel can help with this too (I really think I’ll mention and link this article in my next post about ‘why all people should learn to travel solo’. If you like, I’ll message you in pvt when it’s ready).
    I’d also suggest some cities where making friends is such a simple thing: Dublin, South Italy, NYC. I’ve shortly written something act it here http://bit.ly/1NwlUDp

    1. B says:

      That would be awesome if you would link me in your next article 🙂 I love expanding my reach. I definitely definitely need to go to Dublin soon. It has been on my list for far too long!
      Happy travels!

  15. Zita says:

    I am such an introvert and even some of these tips make me nervous just thinking about doing them but you are so right!

  16. Hi. I’m back and … here is the post where I mention your blog and post about solo travelling and overcoming (kind of) shyness. http://bit.ly/1Pl4ex1
    Hope you’ll enjoy!

    1. B says:

      This is awesome! Thanks again for the shoutout 🙂
      Happy Travels!

  17. Elena says:

    This may not exactly apply to the hostel bit (more to solo travel), but one thing that really helped me was bringing my dog traveling! So many people love dogs and will want to pet/talk about your dog that interactions were really easy. Er, especially since I am really good at talking about dogs! I use this trick for talking to locals as well – just pick one with a dog. 🙂

    1. B says:

      That is an awesome idea! Have you found it difficult to take your dog to certain places? My pup would definitely be down for some adventures 🙂

  18. Elena says:

    It depends. It’s much easier to bring your dog places in Europe than in the U.S. – you can even bring them into restaurants. It’s great! I would say the hardest part of dog travel in Europe is the paperwork to get there. Finding budget places to stay is a bit tricky – many hostels and couchsurfers don’t take dogs, but Airbnb and hotels aren’t a problem at all.
    In the U.S. I would say transportation is the hardest part – if you don’t have a car, generally your only other “dog-friendly” option is flying (though Amtrak is doing a small dog test program in the eastern U.S.).
    Where are you thinking of bringing your dog? Sounds fun!

    1. B says:

      I am taking off for Asia and Australia in April. I wouldn’t want to bring him on the Asia portion, but once I get to Aus, I was hoping to have him flown over to me. Thanks for your input though, I will definitely have to look into the restrictions there. 🙂

  19. Kim says:

    I took my first solo trip years ago when I backpacked through Europe for three months. A friend of mine was supposed to go with me but backed out. You would think that would stop me from going because I am shy and it is hard for me to talk to strangers. Good thing I decided to take this trip anyway. I stayed in hostels and found by traveling on my own other people would come up to me and introduce themselves. I found people to hang out with and had the best time of my life.

    1. B says:

      That is so awesome and I am so glad you decided to go solo. Traveling solo is one of the best experiences I have had in my life so far. It was truly life changing and I met some amazing people as well!

  20. wow..i really impressed with this post,thanks for you post

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