How to Make Friends in a Hostel

Written by Jay Ho

This post is dedicated to all of the wonderful friends that I’ve met while travelling the world. Thank you for being part of my journey and inspiring me to launch Holiday Unicorn. Whether it was a fun night in Copenhagen or Cliff Jumping in Pula or boating in Menorca or adventures in London or trekking in Lisbon or Pizza runs in Dubrovnik or a chance meeting in Plitvice or downing beers at Oktoberfest or catching a KHL game in Prague you all have made a lasting impact in my life. ☺

Other than the low cost, the best thing about staying in a hostel is meeting other travellers and having fleeting memories with people who might later become your Facebook friends. When I first arrive in a hostel, I talk to people who’ve stayed for a while and find out all of the good gems and tips for the city I’m staying in.

If you’re nervous about how you’ll meet new people in a hostel then follow my 10 step guide:

1. Choose Your Hostel Wisely

Websites like and have user generated reviews which are accurate. Don’t just look at the score but probe a bit further into the comments of past guests. This will give you insight on the type of hostel that you’ll be staying at. There’s a stark difference between a highly rated party hostel and a highly rated family friendly hostel.

2. Stay in a Mixed Dorm

This is a tried and true way to meet people in a hostel. It’s like the first week of college and having new roommates all over again. Be who ever you want to be and open yourself up to meeting new people. I never plan out my adventures in new cities. If someone has a good plan then I’ll ask to tag along if not then I’ll go where the good food takes me.

3. Join the Social Activities

Every good hostel will have activities on a daily basis. There will always be a combination of a Free City Walking Tour in the day and Pub Crawl at night to help people socialise. I enjoy meeting people in the Walking Tour first since it’s nice to talk to people before they are too wild.

4. Don’t Hide in Your Bunk

This is a guide to meet new people not be reclusive and re-charge. If you’re in your bunk with your headphones on then no one will talk to you. Smile and ask people about themselves and you’ll be set.

5. Listen First and Ask Questions

Staying in a hostel means that you’ll have at least a few things in common with others. Simple openers like
“How was your day?” “Where are you from?” “Know of any cool places to go out?”

*The Connector – I like playing this role in hostels. I make a point to invite and include everyone in the night’s activities whether it is a pub crawl or just going out for casual drinks. There will usually be people that are shy and won’t invite themselves. It’s as easy as “Hey! We are going out later, would you like to join us for drinks tonight?”

6. Be Confident

No one knows you. If you meet someone interesting and would like to spend more time with them just ask. Move on if it’s a no. You have nothing to lose. If someone wants to hang with you and seems chill then accept. You never know what kind of wacky adventures you’ll get up to.

One night while I was in Pula, Croatia I met Victoria, Daphne and Ricardo. We had decided that the next day we would go cliff diving and swimming. Right before we left on the excursion I ran back to my room to grab a towel. As I entered the room I saw a guy sitting up on his bed with his eyes barely open. I asked him “do you want to go an adventure? Yes or No” He said “Yes” and joined us that day. Chef Gus joined us and completed our rag tag crew of travellers for an epic day of cliff jumping and swimming. Say “Yes” to life and have an adventure. 😎

7. Don’t be creepy or obnoxious

There’s always these types of fellas that stay in hostels. Just be nice and respectful as no one wants to tell you off on their holidays.

8. Approach Big Groups

It might seem like a daunting task but just say hi. Often times these big groups are just made up of solo travellers like yourself.

9. Share

Sharing is a key concept to meeting new people. Share your food. Share your experiences. Share your tips about the city. Share your liquor. Share your wanderlust. These small gestures go along way to meeting and making new friends.

10. Stay Safe

Staying in a hostel can be quite exciting and you’ll get to meet many new people. If you end up going out make sure you have a safe way home and someone that you can trust to look out for you.

Whether you’re one of those people that walks into a room instantly make friends or your shy, you’re guaranteed to enchant your holiday experience with some new mates if you follow this guide.

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