Backpacking alone can be a wonderful, eye-opening, and awe inspiring experience. It can also, however, be a very lonely one. Travelling solo in a foreign place, where they speak a different language and have entirely different customs, can isolate a person like few other things in the world. Hostels can frequently offer the perfect antidote to this sense of loneliness however, where new and interesting friends are just waiting to be made. You may ask, “But how does someone meet people at a hostel, particularly if they’re a bit shy or hesitant to talk to perfect strangers?” These few simple and foolproof tricks will help you to engage new people and perhaps even meet a new travelling companion or two.
1. Cook a meal
Nothing brings people together like food. Many hostels have kitchens that are available for guest use and dinner is a frequent time when people meet and mingle. Cook up your specialty or simply make a huge batch of something cheap and easy, like pasta or scrambled eggs, and let everyone know that you’ve purposefully made extra so people should dig in. You’ll have a table full of happy and grateful dinner-dates in no time.
2. Share bottle of wine
If your hostel doesn’t have a kitchen, or cooking simply isn’t your thing, try sharing a bottle of wine or something sweet and indulgent like cookies or candy. You’d be shocked by what a wonderful conversation starter some pastries from a local bakery can be when you offer them around.
3. Post an ad
Post an ad for an exciting adventure you’d like to experience with someone. Want to go trekking in the nearby national park? Explore remote ancient ruins? Or even just to check out the local salsa club, many hostels have a community bulletin board where you are able to post an “In Search Of” type ad. Your fellow backpackers will be intrigued by your daring and sense of adventure. Just remember to give your room number or email so people have a way to find you!
4. Stay open
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, stay open to new people and experiences. Don’t be afraid to strike up or join in on a conversation. Questions like, “where are you from?” or “what’s your favorite place to travel?” have added meaning in a foreign spot and will help you to build a sense of camaraderie and shared experience with your fellow travelers. You never know when someone might recommend a town that becomes your new favorite destination, or when you may be able to do the same for them.
Many backpackers are just as shy as you and will be grateful for the pleasure of your company!