Ask anyone who has been travelling before and they’ll tell you that one of the most amazing parts of going off on an adventure is the people you’ll meet along the way. Alongside the incredible sights you’ll see, the cultures you’ll be immersed in, and the delicious food you’ll try, the new friends you make while travelling will leave you with the best memories.
But whether you’re travelling solo or you’re taking along a backpacking buddy or partner, making friends doesn’t always feel easy or come naturally. Perhaps you’ve never been on a big trip before and you’re nervous, or maybe you’re a bit of an introvert — or your travelling partner is shy, and you worried that this could get in the way of making new friends.
Whatever the reason, there are some super easy ways you can meet new people and make new friends while travelling. Here are our top five tips for making friends on your trip:
1. Stay in a hostel (and choose a dorm)
We all have different ideas of what travelling entails. Some will prefer staying in luxury hotels, others love the idea of bedding in at an Airbnb, and some will want to try wild-camping and staying in eco-lodges.
However, if you want to make friends while you’re travelling, then one of the most simple ways of doing so is to stay in hostels.
Hostels are great; cheap, fun and sociable. You’ll meet all sorts of amazing people from all walks of life in hostels, and most people will be chilled, funny, and lovely (although you may find the odd person a bit weird or annoying).
Common areas and hostel bars are where you can get talking and have a drink with fellow travellers, but staying in a big dorm is probably the best way to make new friends — pretty much everyone staying in a dorm is up for having fun and chatting.
Unsure where to start? Download the Hostelworld app to get a feel for the vibe of hostels (there’s a big difference between party hostels and chilled ones), reviews and ratings, and for booking a bed in advance.
2. Bring along a pack of cards
A pack of cards is one of those great travel essentials that you probably won’t have considered for your packing list. Compact and light, cards can easily fit into your rucksack, survive plenty of knocks, and they’re cheap as chips so you won’t lose any sleep if you lose them. Plus they’ll provide you with hours of fun.
A good old-fashioned card game is the perfect ice-breaker at a new hostel (especially if you don’t know anyone and the idea of committing to a full-blown conversation with a complete stranger still feels a bit daunting).
Card games are pretty universal too (albeit with a few rule differences or name changes depending on your corner of the globe), so it’s much easier to cross that language barrier with new friends from other countries.
Brushing up on your card game knowledge before you head off on your travels is a wise move; missing out on socialising because you don’t know the rules is super frustrating. Learn classics like Rummy, Cheat and Poker (there are numerous forms poker, but it’s easy to master them if you use guides like this Pineapple poker one from OnlineCasinos.co.uk).
3. Sign up for activities at your hostel
There’s nothing that bonding over a new experience to really solidify a travelling friendship.
If you’re an extrovert and you’re pretty comfortable chatting to anyone and everyone you might, you may end up spontaneously heading to the nearest beach or local markets with your new hostel buddies — and that’s great!
But sometimes it may be slightly harder, especially if you’re a bit shy, nervous or just haven’t found the opportunity.
Luckily, your answer is here: organised fun.
Lots of hostels put on various activities and excursions, or at least suggest different tour guides you can sign up with. So whether it’s a walking tour of the city you’ve just arrived in, a karaoke night at your hostel, or mountain-biking down the nearest gorge, sign-up! You’ll make brilliant new memories, meet some amazing people, laugh your head off at the ridiculous things you’re doing, and you won’t regret a second.
Volunteering is a great way to meet new people and make friends while you’re travelling.
It means you’ll get to meet like-minded travellers with common interests, meaning you’re more likely to create meaningful, long-lasting friendships (rather than just bonding over the number of shots you did at the hostel bar the night before).
There will be volunteering opportunities wherever you’re travelling to — whether it’s giving back to the local community through helping in schools, supporting wildlife conservation efforts (such as turtle hatching programs), or volunteering on a farm.
Working with new people on a project — regardless of whether it’s a day or a month — means you’ll naturally bond as you learn new skills, complete your tasks, and celebrate your sense of accomplishment together.
There are lots of ways that you can meet new people and make friends while you’re travelling. Be yourself, step out of your comfort zone and be open to new experiences — you won’t regret it.