Travel friends at Backpackers Cape Town

Making Friends At A Backpacking Hostel: 101


Follow these simple tips to make friends while traveling.


Some of the most intriguing aspects of traveling would have to be meeting fellow travellers, diving into different cultures and perhaps making unforgettable memories with new friends you meet along the way.

A backpacking hostel is the ideal place for this. Why? Because backpackers tend to attract individuals who don't mind sharing their space with other travelers (e.g. dormitories) or sharing their travel stories with strangers around a fire.

As exciting as it all sounds, it may not be so simple for those of you who have anxiety, social awkwardness or are just not that great at conversation.

Not to worry - follow the simple tips in this article and soon you will be the bees knees at the next hostel you stay in. To help put your mind at ease, remember that people at backpacking hostels (as opposed to hotels) are generally more laid-back and open to making friends.


Choose a suitable hostel

If you're looking to connect with travelers with a similar mindset as yours, your choice of hostel is critical.

If you're seeking to make friends with a mature crowd, it would be silly to book yourself into a party hostel. If you're looking for young and fun travelers, perhaps booking a hostel near the nightlife scene may be more appropriate. If you're looking to connect with nature lovers who enjoy peace, try find a hostel that is removed from the city life and rather situated near hiking trails or beaches.

I'd suggest reading backpacking hostels reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor to find some insight into the kind of atmosphere they provide and what kind experience the previous guests had.

Making Friends While Traveling - Backpacking

Playing pool at Riverlodge Backpackers 

Riverlodge Backpackers in Cape Town is a great place to make traveler friends. We have 2 pool tables, a bar, 3 gardens and 2 lounges. Making use of these facilities are a sure way to bump into interesting characters.


​Don't seclude yourself too much

Social Anxiety, How To Make Friends, Traveling

Imagine there was a person who was booked into the same hostel as you. Let's call her Kate. Kate was booked into a private room and always kept her door shut. On the odd occasion when she decided to leave her room she was always huddled in a corner with her nose buried in a book, or her eyes glued to her cellphone screen.

Do you think Kate made many friends during her travels? Most likely not. Although the reason for her being like that was because she's socially anxious, she definitely came across as anti-social, grumpy and shut-off, resulting in people not feeling comfortable around her.

Basically, what I'm saying is DON'T be like Kate. If you are a shy person, book yourself into a dormitory room rather than a private room. It's likely that someone in the dorm will approach you first and you won't have to be the one to make the initial approach. Staying in a dorm will help you out of your shell as you won't be able to hide away from interaction. Soon you will find yourself easing into conversation with your fellow roomies.

When you're in the communal areas, try to keep your phone in your bag/pocket to present yourself as approachable. Get a drink at the bar to help you relax or take a stroll in the garden if they have one.


Ask questions

So, here's a fact - most people LOVE to speak about themselves. Use this to your advantage by asking your fellow travellers questions about themselves, as this is a sure way to break the ice. 

If you have the guts, be the first one to approach them and ask them questions like "how long have you been staying at this hostel?" or "what country are you from?".

By asking questions, you'll learn whether you have common interests or not. You'll also come across as sociable which opens doors to forming new friendships.

Always remember - don't be afraid to respond with your experiences or thoughts regarding the questions you've asked them. One-sided conversations are not stimulating for anybody.


Use your talents

Making Friends While Traveling - Backpacking

Everybody has at least one talent. Your talent may be playing an instrument, singing, drawing, telling jokes or even baking.

If you've brought your guitar along, go sit outside and play some tunes. This is sure to draw some attention. People will admire you for your confidence (even if you're feeling nervous) and almost certainly will want to compliment you or engage in conversation.

If you enjoy baking, a great idea is to make a batch of muffins or cupcakes and offer them to the people sharing your dorm room. Invite someone to bake with you or even to go try out a nearby bakery together.

Whatever your talent may be, use it to your advantage. People will remember you as bringing some fun and vibrance to the hostel.


Sign up for events or activities

How To Make Friends While Traveling - Backpacking

Surfing lesson in Cape Town 

Many backpacking hostels give you the opportunity to sign up for events or activities in the area. Currently, Riverlodge Backpackers is running an offer to sign up guests for a 2 hour discounted surfing lesson for groups of 6 or more (contact us if you are interested).

Let's say, for instance, you were staying at Riverlodge Backpackers. A great idea would be to ask other guests if they would be interested in signing up with you for the discounted group surfing lesson. This is a fun way to interact with fellow travelers as well as create fun memories to look back on in the future.


Essentially, you can use these tips on how to make friends while traveling in most life situations, whether you're starting a new job or beginning your first year at varsity.

I hope these tips help you make the most out of life. Get out there and make your travels as memorable as possible!


If you enjoyed this article and want to read more about the exciting things we get up to in Cape Town, follow us on Twitter , Instagram and like our Facebook page. If you'd love to have your own Cape Town experience, contact us at Riverlodge Backpackers to book your affordable accommodation (view our accommodation options).

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