Making New Friends at a Hostel [Best Tips&Strategies]

Making New Friends at a Hostel [Best Tips&Strategies]

Staying at a hostel is best experienced if you come out of your shell and interact with strangers. And often, you’ll find those strangers have great potential to become travel buddies or good friends. For extroverts, that’s usually very simple, as they always have an icebreaker ready to start a conversation, but for those like me, it’s not that simple. But heck, even an extrovert might need guidance if it’s their first time staying at a hostel and they don’t know what to expect.

This article delves into the art of making new friends at hostels, offering insights, strategies, and tips to help you navigate the social landscape of shared accommodations. From overcoming initial hesitations to engaging with roommates, participating in hostel activities, and embracing cultural exchange, we’ll explore the myriad ways in which hostels facilitate meaningful connections among travelers.

The article is based on my personal experience of 10+ years as a solo traveler and staying at tens of hostels in this period, so, if you’re ready to embark on a journey of camaraderie, cultural exchange, and unforgettable experiences, join me as we unravel the secrets to making new friends at hostels.

The Hostel Experience

Hostels serve as more than just a place to lay your head; they embody a unique and communal way of travelling that fosters connections and camaraderie among guests. Unlike traditional hotels, hostels offer shared accommodations, including dormitory-style rooms, communal kitchens, and inviting common areas. These spaces are intentionally designed to encourage interaction among travelers, creating a dynamic social atmosphere that sets hostels apart from other lodging options.

One of the defining features of the hostel experience is the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Whether you’re sharing a room with fellow backpackers, cooking a meal alongside travelers from different corners of the globe, or lounging in a communal space swapping travel stories, hostels provide a fertile ground for forging friendships that transcend geographical boundaries.

In essence, staying at a hostel is not just about finding a place to sleep; it’s about immersing yourself in a community of fellow travelers, exchanging stories, sharing experiences, and building connections that can last a lifetime. From the buzzing energy of the common areas to the spontaneous conversations sparked in shared dormitories, the hostel experience is a testament to the power of human connection in the world of travel.

Best Ways to Make Friends in Hostels

Before starting to list all the ways I tried to make friends at hostels, I want to tell you that before taking any action, it’s important for you to choose the right hostel for you and to feel safe with the people around you. If you ever have doubts about whether you should interact with someone or not, it’s probably better to leave and find another crowd.

To increase the odds that the hostel you want to book has an overall good vibe and takes good measures for people’s safety, please take your time to read the reviews from past travelers.

Now without further ado, let’s explore the best strategies for you to connect with like-minded people!

1. Greet Your Roommates With a Smile

From the moment you enter your room for the first time, greet the people who are already there with a smile. Trust me, a simple “Hello” goes a long way. You don’t have to start a conversation with them right away, but if you say something every time you return to your hostel, a sense of familiarity will slowly come between you and it will be easier to initiate a conversation at some point. Moreover, for me greeting people is part of being polite and respectful.

If you feel like someone always smiles back at you and looks approachable, break the ice with a question like: “How long have you been here?” or “What did you see so far?”. If you’re too shy to do that, maybe a friendly extrovert will take the lead or meet you halfway.

Of course, you need to learn to read the room. Don’t try to make friends with people who seem in a bad mood, and don’t start conversations late at night when people are sleeping. And of course, don’t approach anyone who looks drunk or worse! Always remember: safety first!

2. Utilize Common Spaces

Hostels are designed to encourage interaction among guests, and one of the most effective ways to meet new friends is by utilizing the various common spaces available. These communal areas, such as lounges, kitchens, and outdoor spaces, serve as hubs of social activity where travelers converge to relax, socialize, and exchange stories.

Just go there and hang out, usually somebody will sit next to you, ask you a question or interact in any other way. If that happens, grab the opportunity and keep the conversation going.

Pro tip: You can read a book or scroll TikTok while you’re staying in one of the common spaces, but make sure you don’t look busy. If it seems like you’re studying or you’re too involved in whatever you’re doing, people are less likely to approach you. For me, taking my laptop is out of the question as well, because it might seem like I’m working. Same with wearing headphones – they’re a no-no. The best strategy is to grab a drink of your preference and just enjoy it while looking around.

3. Ask For Recommendations

Asking for recommendations is a great strategy because it invites a longer conversation. You can try it both with your roommates and with other people in the common area. You might even be invited to join them in their upcoming exploration plans. How exciting is that?!

Once, I went to the reception to ask for a piece of information about the city I was in, and after the employee answered my question, someone from behind me came and gave me more clarity on the topic. Then we started talking and he offered to show me around the next day.

4. Join Game Nights

I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that every hostel where I’ve been, had game nights and also a nice collection of board games. I am a huge fan of board games, so for me, joining a game feels like second nature. They provide good opportunities to spend an evening sitting around a table, chatting and having fun.

During game nights there can be several activities, like beer pong, trivia, pool, Kings Cup and many more.

5. Participate in Outdoor Activities and Events

Hostels often organize a variety of outdoor activities and events aimed at bringing guests together and fostering a sense of community. These activities range from guided city tours and cultural workshops to group dinners and pub crawls, providing guests with ample opportunities to socialize and make new friends.


So far, I tried joining guided tours and pub crawls and both activities helped me forge meaningful connections with fellow travelers, so it’s worth a shot.

6. Have Breakfast at the Hostel

If your hostel has an option for having breakfast in their location, I recommend you take it. If they offer free breakfast, that’s even better. Don’t skip it. From my experience, many hostels have joined tables that “force” guests to sit close to each other. Therefore, if there are no other seats available, it won’t be awkward to sit at the table with complete strangers and talk to them.

Pro tip: Start conversations by requesting small favours like: “Can you pass the salt please?”. A study from 1969 showed that asking for small things makes you more likeable, therefore you have better chances of making friends.

7. Have a Drink at the Hostel’s Bar

Many hostels have bars. The cool ones might even have rooftop bars. Going there for a drink will substantially increase your chances of making friends. People are generally more friendly and extroverted in a bar (especially after a glass or two).

You just have to sit at the bar and most likely someone will come to you to ask you if you’re enjoying the music, the vibe or the drink. And I’m sure you can take it from here :)

8. Network Through Social Media and Apps

In today’s digital age, social media platforms and travel apps have become powerful tools for connecting with fellow travelers and expanding your social network while staying at hostels.

For example, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer a convenient way to connect with other travelers before, during, and after your hostel stay. Many hostels have dedicated social media pages or groups where guests can interact, share travel tips, and coordinate meetups. Joining these groups and engaging with other travelers can help you make connections and build friendships before you even arrive at the hostel.

There are also several travel-specific apps designed to connect travelers and facilitate social interactions. Apps like Hostelworld, Couchsurfing, and Meetup allow users to find and join events, meetups, and activities organized by fellow travelers or locals. These apps provide a platform for networking with like-minded individuals, finding travel companions, and discovering unique experiences in your destination.

Some hostels have their own mobile apps or online platforms that enable guests to connect and interact with each other. These apps often feature messaging capabilities, event listings, and social forums where guests can exchange tips, arrange outings, and connect with fellow travelers staying at the hostel. Utilizing these hostel-specific apps can enhance your hostel experience by facilitating communication and fostering a sense of community among guests.


Making new friends at hostels is not just about expanding your social circle; it’s about embracing the spirit of community, fostering connections with people from diverse backgrounds, and creating unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. Throughout your hostel experience, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with fellow travelers in common spaces, participate in organized activities, and connect with roommates in shared accommodations. By stepping out of your comfort zone, initiating conversations, and sharing experiences, you’ll discover the power of human connection in the world of travel.

Whether you’re embarking on a solo adventure or exploring the world with friends, hostels provide the perfect setting to meet new people, exchange stories, and forge meaningful friendships. From sharing travel tips and recommendations to exploring new destinations together, the connections you make at hostels can enrich your travel experience in countless ways.

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