Travelling with friends is an unforgettable experience, so here are some tips on how to make friends while travelling.
So you book a room in a hostel, arrive and check-in. Keeping an eye on your bags, you have a look around the communal areas, for example the kitchen, living room and bathrooms. You're tired and sit down on the sofa, connect to the wifi and start to catch up with your loved ones. There are people around you but you ignore them. They come to talk to you and you answer them with blunt, one-worded replies. They ask you something and you nod your head one way or another in response. You just can't socialise!?
Well we'll let you in on a little secret, you're certainly not the only one who feels this way! We understand how uncomfortable and daunting it can be when you want to form new friendships but your thoughts and worries stop you from achieving this goal... Your sense of self starts to drift away and you lose hope, giving up on any efforts to make new friends.
Don't worry. It's a long process and everyone makes mistakes... it's only natural to do so. Nobody knows how to build up a good friendship and sustain it over time right off the bat! It's something that's learned and perfected gradually. However, in this article we try to give you a boost in this process by giving you some tips on how to make friends in hostels when you're travelling. First off, let us explain to you why hostels are the perfect meeting places!
The Magic of Hostels
Now you may be thinking, why are they talking about hostels? Well, it's because they are the best accommodation choice for people on a low-cost budget, generally designed for young travellers looking to save some money. What's more, solo-travellers often choose to stay in hostels which creates a perfect social atmosphere which fuels new friendships between people from all over the world.
Now let's look at the practical side. The hostels have a 'common area', usually the kitchen. This offers a communal living space where guests can socialise with each other in an informal and relaxed environment. If you come back from sight-seeing and want to make some lunch, the chances are that there is at least someone else in the kitchen, whether they're eating, cooking or washing up. If it's not the kitchen that seems to be the hostel 'social hub' then it may just be the common room, reception area or rooftop! After an exhausting day, the average backpacker needs time to rest and recharge. You can bet there will be a room where everyone comes together to socialise and share their own travel stories. This is your opportunity!
Click here for a list of hostels that will serve you well!
Leave Your Room
As obvious as it may seem, it's imperative that you leave your room in order to meet people. We know that hostels have, for the most part, shared bedrooms of three, four, six or even up to twenty people which greatly facilitates socialising without any effort involved. However this can be part of the problem, as if you're waiting for someone nice to walk through the door of the room to form a friendship then that's a mistake.
This can happen, we're not saying it doesn't, but it's better to take advantage of the communal areas as much as possible to really immerse yourself in a sociable situation. Instead of playing it safe, get stuck in at the center of the hostel activity.
People who enter the room of the hostel while travelling probably do so in order to go straight to sleep after a tiring day, to change clothes or to dump their luggage before heading out to socialise. The true traveller only uses the room when there is a real need to do so...
Use Your Initiative
The wait to talk is over, because you can't wait all day for someone else to come up to you because your shy to make the first move. Not only is it a waste of your time but it's the direct path to nothingness... to failure. We know this sounds harsh and overwhelming, but just starting off a conversation means the battle is half over.
Forming a friendship is something that takes time but to build one you must start somewhere, and by that we mean taking the initiative and striking up a conversation. If you're constantly waiting for things to happen in life, then too many opportunities will pass you by and you'll look back and regret all those times you couldn't build up the courage to socialise. This should be something so simple, but humans like to make it complicated!
Just remeber that socialising is natural for all humankind. We must exchange thoughts and opinions, we need company even if it's from strangers! It all depends upon the circumstances, so if you're in a hostel look for questions or excuses to find a topic that may be of interest to the both of you. If you want to keep it simple you can break the ice with a simple "Hello" or with the classic "Where are you from?"
Every new situation you find yourself in is an opportunity to meet new people. The next time someone invites you to a party where you don't know anyone, or asks you to participate in a social outing that you would normally avoid, be sure to say yes. You never know who you could meet! Although you are likely to be afraid of putting yourself into situations that are outside of your comfort zone, just keep in mind that most people will like you once they get to know you ;-)
You don't have to say "Yes" to absolutely everything. If the idea of doing something is uncomfortable for you, it's fine to respectfully decline the invitation. Remember that we are just providing some advice, and we're not saying we are a social guide you must follow word for word. There are not a series of steps that you need to follow so you can calm down and take everything at your own pace.
Slow and steady wins the race!
There is nothing you can do that won't be worth it because there's always something new to discover. Don't think that failure means you should give up, but instead look upon it as a learning curve for the next time. What do we mean? Well, if you don't succeed at first try you shouldn't despair because this is very common. No one is born knowing the best tactics to make friends while travelling, and as far as we know there's no instruction manual to learn from! So why should you know everything? You're only human, and we all make mistakes.
If it's not your lucky day on this trip, perhaps it will be when you check-in to the next hostel. Yes, there will be many more chances to make friends, but just bear in mind that it's up to you to create these situations and make the most of the social opportunities you find yourself in along the way. Don't expect to make friends without putting in any effort.
Finally, don't forget to be yourself because there is nothing worse than pretending to be someone you're not... follow your own path.
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