How to Make Friends in a Hostel: A Passive Aggressive Guide

One of the most googled phrases in the travel spectrum is ‘how do I make friends in a hostel?’ It seems that the need to be sociable is a huge concern for backpackers planning for their travels. I’ll be real here for those of you who don’t already know, social situations have the tendency to make me feel very uncomfortable. I am constantly worried about inconveniencing others or making a tit of myself in front of someone new. Sadly, the latter happens all too often. Despite these personality shortcomings, I have found that it is very easy to make friends in a hostel. To be honest, there are plenty of posts that will tell you things like ‘talk first, hang out in communal areas, bring your musical talent to evening entertainment’. Some of these are good pieces of advice but in my opinion, the reality is much more simple. It’s not so much what you do to make friends in a hostel but rather avoiding the things you shouldn’t do.

 If you’re about to embark on your first hostel experience and you’re worried that social anxiety will make you melt mid-sentence, let me tell you exactly what you need to know to make friends in a hostel. It’s simpler than you think. 

Do not vomit in your room

You’d assume this was obvious but travellers can have the tendency to go a little over the top with their drink and end up making the whole dorm suffer. Always make sure you can get to a toilet as nothing will put your potential friends off getting to know you like the stench of vomit. 

Do not switch on the lights late at night

This is very important hostel etiquette. If people are asleep, don’t switch on the lights when you rock up late. It will wake people up and nothing is scarier than a backpacker with no sleep!

Do not spread your stuff all over the room

A dorm room is a communal place and everyone should respect each other’s personal space. By leaving your stuff everywhere, you will not only annoy your fellow roommates but you will also make it much easier for your stuff to get mixed up with other peoples. It’s worth bearing in mind that even if the idea of inconveniencing other people doesn’t bother you, your stuff is far more likely to get stolen if it is laying around. 

Do not leave your alarm ringing

Personally, this is my ultimate hostel pet hate. If you have to have a loud alarm, that’s fine. However, do not, under any circumstances, set more than one alarm and then forget about them. People who go off to shower leaving everyone else to listen to ‘Apex’ for an hour before they return are the absolute worst. 

Do not have sex in the dorm

You would think that this wouldn’t be an experience featured on most people’s bucket lists but the personal accounts suggest otherwise. Definitely more common than you would think, listening to your roommate get it on in the middle of the night is both embarrassing and downright uncomfortable. If the urge so becomes you, please get a room. 

Do not be that guy with a guitar

Okay, so this one is a little harsh. Whilst I am not one for the group singing around campfires, I do understand that people enjoy a certain sense of camaraderie from it. This still doesn’t change the fact that I hate it. It wouldn’t be as bad but most of the hostel goers that carry a guitar don’t seem to be able to play anything other than ‘Hotel California’, ‘Wonderwall’ or ‘Stairway to Heaven’. We’ve heard them all before. If you have to play anything at all, at least make it original. 

Do not hang your wet towel where it will drip on other peoples stuff

For some bizarre reason, there is a small subsection of hostel clientele who seem to think it is acceptable to drape their wet towels over other people’s beds – side note, it’s not, or even worse, leave their soaked towel dripping on someone else’s bag. Would you like to find your bed wet because of someone else’s towel? I’d guess not. 

Do not be a snorer

I know that this is something not everyone can help and I can understand why you think I’m being cruel by putting on the list. Someone has to say it though. If you snore, please just get a private room. We are all staying in a hostel to sleep and if you are going to ruin that for people you should at least provide the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00A25JLN0′ text=’earplugs’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’wingtheworl-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’1cca4fc5-0fa2-11e9-a505-dd0b45773874′]. #sorrynotsorry

Do not dismiss other people’s plans

This is one we are all guilty of but that we should work hard to reign in. When somebody says they are going to a place, don’t give them a spiel on how it was really disappointing/you hated it/it is too touristy. By all means, share travel tips (this is one of the best things about making friends in hostels) but don’t rain on other people’s parades. Let’s all encourage and inspire rather than beating each other down.

Do not leave food in the room

Kitchens are one of the best things about staying in hostels. You can really limit your costs by cooking your own food. There are rules surrounding the use of communal kitchen facilities and utensils though. One is to always wash your dishes and the other is don’t hoard plates, mugs and the like in your room. Leftover food attracts flies and other gross things. It’s not nice for everyone else. 

Do not avoid eye contact

I guarantee that no matter how socially awkward you are, there will be someone else more worried than you about making friends while they travel. Making the first move and starting a conversation is hard, so make it easier for people and make eye contact. By being aversive you will do yourself no favours. 

Do not make loud noises

If you are coming in late or leaving early, always try to be quiet and allow people to relax undisturbed. Of course, sometimes noise can’t be helped but always try to limit it to what is unavoidable.

And there you have it! It really is that easy. Backpackers are generally an easygoing lot and are happy to speak to anyone. However, if you do any of the above I guarantee that you will be reviled by at least one of your fellow travellers, whether they tell you or just talk about you behind your back instead. In conclusion, the overall message for making friends in a hostel is easy and can be summed up with: Do not be a dick. 

For more conventional advice on making friends while you travel, check out this interview with travel blogging guru Nomadic Matt!

What are your top tips for making friends in a hostel?

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6 thoughts on “How to Make Friends in a Hostel: A Passive Aggressive Guide”

  1. I like this! Not only a good guide for the socially awkward solo travellers (I was nodding along with a lot of what you said!) but also a great reminder for people to just be respectful of each other in a hostel, which can often get forgotten!

    • I’m glad that through this blog I am finding my people! 😀 It can definitely be hard travelling as a socially awkward person but inconsiderate people in dorms make it a whole lot harder. I don’t know why it is so difficult for backpackers to just respect their roomies! Everyone has a better time that way 🙂

  2. Not going to lie – as soon as I saw those blue letters I slowly started to make my way down the post figuring out what it said. Made me laugh when I realized! All of these are great tips! I have experienced so much of these things in hostels too. I certainly didn’t reach out to them with requests to hang out.

    • I have had people say it is a little harsh but I really think if everyone followed these points hostels would be a better place! I am not completely blameless, I have been that person who leaves their alarm going off when not in the room – only for a few seconds but I still feel ashamed every time I think about it! I think we can all forgive the odd mistake but the fact of the matter seems to be that some people are downright inconsiderate. People need to remember that they are in a shared space! Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Love this. Truer words were never spoken! Although not gonna lie, a little guilty of the eye contact one (which is just something I struggle with in life in general) and I’ve probably been in a hostel while unexpectedly ill and unintentionally snored. But I still agree about the earplugs. There’s nothing worse than being kept up all night by someone who is clearly a chronic snorer. And is it just me, or do people who snore just naturally fall asleep easier/quicker?

    The sex thing is super gross and happens way to often. I get that you’re single and horny, but this just isn’t the place! Sorry. I had to clean out all my stuff after an ant infestation once because another person just kept a bunch of non-sealed food laying around. I was NOT amused. It’s behaviour like this that have put me off staying in dorms. I can’t really remember the last time I stayed in one…

    • I too have been guilty of the eye contact one, although if I am going to try and make friends, it is the first thing I attempt to change. I guess it all depends on your keenness to want to talk to other people though, sometimes I like to be that unsociable person with a book 🙂

      That is so true! The chronic snorers always seem to drop off first which means everyone else suffers for even longer!

      Oh no, the ant thing is gross! I hate seeing old plates and stuff around in hostels. I think people forget that it leads to infestations as you’ve said. So horrible. I can understand why you’d be put off!


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