This is a guest post from, Stephanie Yoder, who runs Twenty-Something Travel, a travel blog dedicated to assisting new or young travelers with the skills, resources and opportunities available to them for travel abroad. When not traveling the world she lives in Washington DC.
I was backpacking through Bosnia with a friend when we stumbled across two affable Canadians having a brotherly argument in our hostel common room. What started as a request to see a map turned into dinner, which led to a week and a half of platonic traveling down the Adriatic Coast. We referred to them as our little brothers and they just called us “the girls.” We explored ancient cities, shared inside jokes and eventually parted with hugs and tears, never to see each other again. Meeting people while traveling can be one of the most rewarding parts of your trip! Keep in touch with your new friends with MyZamana.
This kind of instant friendship is not atypical among young travelers. There is a rich social life that goes along with traveling and hostels are the epicenter. Making new friends at hostels is one of my favorite things about traveling. You get to meet people of different backgrounds, learn first-hand travel tips, plus, if you keep in touch, you have a new contact to visit somewhere in the world.
Connecting with other travelers at your hostel is ridiculously easy, even if you tend to be shy at home. Here are some tips for making new friends:
• Remember, people want to get to know you: Travelers are sociable by nature and love meeting new people. Every once in awhile you will run into a couple that isn’t interested in anyone outside of themselves, but most travelers are either solo or so tired of their companion that new blood is a welcome thought. Instant friendships are an ingrained part of hostel culture.
• Be Accessible: If you are holed up in your bunk, nose in a book, headphones on, you don’t look like someone who wants to socialize. Most hostels have common rooms or kitchens where people congregate. Station yourself out in the open and try to look approachable.
• Ask Questions: Making the first move isn’t as scary as you’d think. A simple “where are you from?” can be enough to spark a lengthy conversation. The beauty of hostels is that everyone has an instant rapport: you are all travelers after all. Ask them how long they’ve been in town, what they’ve seen and where they are headed next.
• Extend an invitation: Once you’ve established some common ground; it’s time to extend the hand of friendship. “We’re headed to dinner, want to come?” “Fancy a beer?” “Want some chocolate?” are all suitable. If someone invites you out on the town by all means accept! Hostel parties almost always function on a “more the merrier” philosophy.
Don’t over think your interactions and don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to be your new best friend. There are probably twenty other backpackers in the building who’d love to have a beer with you.
The friendships born in hostels are fast forming yet cotton candy light. Whether your new friends last for a night, a week or a lifetime, you are guaranteed to have an experience you would otherwise miss wandering the streets of a foreign city on your own. Hostel friendships are proof that even in the furthest corners of the world you are never really alone, unless you want to be.