One of the biggest joys of travel is to meet amazing people along the way. And there is no better place for solo travelers to build good friendships than in hostels. Traveling solo can be lonely and scary, especially for those attempting it for the first time. Whether you’re going for hikes during Muir woods tours or strolling through the Embarcadero, it’s always wonderful to share your experiences with someone.

There are many hostels that are designed to initiate social interaction and spark wonderful conversations. Some hostels offer community activities like board game nights while others organize pub crawls and San Francisco wine tours. Most backpackers who stay at hostels are friendly people who have a passion for travel – just like you! Even if you’re shy, making new friends will only enrich your travel experiences. So, here are some ways you can easily build new friendships in hostels.

Choose a dorm room

Staying in hostel dorm rooms are your best chance of making friends. When compared to living in a private hostel room, living in close quarters along fellow travelers boosts your chance of striking conversations. Each person has a unique personality – some prefer to become instant besties while others can be a bit wary to form quick friendships. So, take it slow; start with a friendly smile and a pleasant “hello”. Their reaction should give you a clue about their attitude.

Get up early

Even if you feel to sleep till the afternoon, push yourself to get up early. Breakfast time is when your roommates would talk about their previous day and plan their schedule for that day. So, this is the best time for you to talk to other people about your experiences and theirs. Joining the breakfast discussion will help you make friends easily as you can share travel tips or even plan your trips together.

Don’t stick to your gadgets

Living in your bunk and closing yourself off is definitely not the way to make friends. You may like your gadgets but don’t stare into your laptop or phone all day long. Get out of your bed more often and look approachable, even if you’re feeling shy to socialize. Grab a drink and spend some time at the bar. You’ll be surprised by the number of times you’ll be approached by other travelers.

Hang out in communal areas

Like the above point illustrates, get out of the dorm room and spend your time in the communal areas. Common areas such as the hostel bar, kitchen, lounge, or other areas would be filled with like-minded travelers who would share the same interests as you. Hostel communal areas give you a chance to connect with people while giving you something to talk about. You can also use this time to get useful tips, have a drink, share funny stories, and basically, enjoy your vacation!

Talk to the hostel staff

Never overlook the hostel staff! While they may be working behind a desk, the hostel staff are fascinating people to hold conversations with. They’re also local folks who have inside information about the city you’re visiting. So, feel free to chat with them and get to know more about the city. Question them about any unsafe neighborhoods. Ask them about their favorite restaurants and clubs. Quiz them about must-visit places that aren’t tourist traps. You could even get them to introduce you to other travelers or locals.

Participate in group activities

Many hostels organize group activities like pub crawls, movie nights, and cooking workshops. Enroll yourself in them and actively participate in such group activities. When you have fun with other people, you automatically bond with them. Don’t let your shyness stop you from making friends. Get in front of the group, get involved, be inquisitive, be talkative, and most of all, have fun. If your new friends are heading to the same place you are, you could plan your day to visit the place together.

Sharing is caring

Whenever possible, lend your items to your hostel roommates. Many travelers stay at hostels to reduce their travel expenses. So, helping them out would provide you with a great opportunity to make friends quickly. After all, everyone loves to receive free items and would appreciate the gesture. However, make sure the stuff you’re giving them is in good condition. You might also find that your friends will readily help you out when you need it the most.

Make the first move

Do you wish that a particular person would come and talk to you? Why don’t you take the first step and go talk to them? All you need is some courage and confidence. Travelers are usually very social and would love to strike up a conversation with you. Use common ice-breakers like “Where are you from?”, “What are the places you have visited?”, and “What is your best travel experience?” On the other hand, if you only receive one-word replies and they look uninterested, take the hint and walk away. You’ll always find another traveler who would be more interested in making friends.

Take the conversation forward

Want to spend more time with someone you have just met? Gather the courage to ask them out! It doesn’t matter if you go out for a drink, check out a tourist attraction together or enroll in a workshop. Alternatively, if someone asks you out, accept their offer. After all, the reason you’re traveling is to gain new experiences and to explore the unknown.

Prioritize safety

Meeting new people is always fun. However, you’ve just met them. While you should be open and welcoming to other people, don’t trust anyone easily. If you ever feel uneasy or unsafe, leave that place immediately. Keep the address of your hostel written down and have some cash on yourself if you ever need to make a quick getaway. Before going anywhere with anyone, take precautions by getting to know them well enough. It’s also a good idea to visit places as a group.