If you’ve ever embarked on a solo adventure and found yourself craving some human interaction beyond awkwardly chatting up the hostel receptionist, you’re in for a treat.
I’ve had my fair share of solo traveling and have developed an extroverted veil to my introverted self, and can pretty much chat up an empty wall at this point.
But I’ve only been able to develop this skill thanks to a lot of different tools, one of which is the Hostelworld app and its solo travel features.
Hostelworld affectionately places these features under an umbrella term: ”The Solo System.”
They’re obviously not rookies in the travel game and actually developed these features based on statistics they’ve found:
Did you know that 72% of travelers feel nervous before their trip, and around 30% of them actually even feel dread at the thought of introducing themselves to strangers?
So obviously, if you’re shy or anxious, the majority of people are feeling the same thing – they might just be better at hiding it than you are.
Whether you’re introverted, extroverted, or anywhere in between, their app can help you out in a variety of ways: easily meet new people while traveling, make new friends, find cool events to participate in and just feel overall less nervous, dreadful, or anxious.
I’m going to go over all the social features of the Hostel World app in this step-by-step guide on how to make friends when traveling solo.
At Hostelgeeks, we also believe in balance, so I’ll include other offline ways to meet up with people as well – the app shouldn’t replace your social interactions, but serve as yet another tool to use to socialize and have fun.
Read: The Hostelworld App full Review – sharing more details and how to use it at full capacity!
Getting Started: Step-by-Step
- Set Up: Step-by-step guide on how to set up your Hostelworld account
- Creating a profile: Adding a bio, languages spoken, cities you’ve lived in, and your interests
- Fill in your Travel Portfolio: Showcasing your travel statistics to make your profile more appealing
Setting up your account is as easy as pie (maybe even easier, depending on your baking skills).
Creating a profile: Share a little about yourself. Throw in a witty bio, showcase your linguistic prowess, brag about the cities you’ve conquered, and let everyone know what you’re really into.
Hint: Unique quirks are like travel catnip. Also, sprinkle in some travel stats to show that you’re not a rookie – but it’s fine if you are, we all start somewhere.
Booking Your Stay with the App
- How to book a hostel
- The benefits of using the app to make bookings
- The features you unlock after the booking process
Time to book your hostel! We all know accommodations are the cornerstone of any trip, but with Hostelworld, it’s not just about securing a bed. It’s about unlocking a world of social possibilities.
The app has an exciting feature called “See Who’s Going“.
As a traveler, you can now see how many people are planning to visit different cities and stay in hostels on your selected dates.
Read: a step-by-step guide on how to book with Hostelworld
Once you make a booking, you can scroll through the profiles of other travelers heading to the same destination: You’ll have access to upgraded profiles, where you can see profile photos and destinations previously visited by fellow travelers.
More importantly, after your booking, you become eligible to join chats via the app (we’ll talk about them below).
Joining Chat Communities
- The various chat communities are available on the app
- Hostel chat with travelers staying on the same dates as you
- Specialized chats based on preferences: events, sports, dining, drinks, dance floors, and sightseeing
Your booking is complete? You can now rub virtual shoulders with fellow travelers.
These chats are like the digital version of hostel common rooms, minus the occasional stains on the couch and random food smell.
If your travel dates are within the next 14 days, you’ll be added to a hostel chat whose participants all share your travel dates. This feature allows users to engage and socialize with others starting from 14 days before their check-in date and three days after they’ve checked out.
It is important to note that users must be 18 years or older and adhere to Hostelworld’s community guidelines when utilizing the chat function.
If you don’t really know how to break the ice, the app also suggests sentence prompts that I’ve seen people actually use – think of it like Hinge or Bumble but way less awkward.
Alternatively, the app also allows direct messaging between users, as long as this function has been activated by both users. So if you’re okay with people from your hostel messaging you privately, and they’re okay with it as well, you can do that.
But wait, there’s more!
You also have the opportunity to join chats with travelers staying at other hostels. These are specialized chats: Whether you’re into sports, food, drinks, or dancing like no one’s watching, there’s a specialized chat for you. Join the theme of your choice and start socializing (or monitor the chat until you feel like you can smoothly insert yourself).
Read: 18 hostel rules and hostel etiquette to build lifelong friendships.
- Discuss the diverse range of scheduled events available on the app
- Hostel-organized tours are open to all travelers
- User-generated events for unique social experiences
- Explaining the process of creating and promoting your own event
Ready to up your social game? Scheduled events are where it’s at.
Other than the chats, you have the ability to either join or create Linkups.
Linkups are basically events organized by hostels throughout the city (not just the one you’re staying in) or travelers. They range from anything to island day tours, pub crawls, concerts, or random kayak tours. They feature information, prices, time, and profile of participants.
Alternatively, there are travelers-generated events.
If you want to create such an event, you need to input details like the category (sightseeing for example), an enticing picture to encourage people to click on your event, a description, and a meeting place (it needs to be public!).
These are great ways to organize things that interest you and have people join in on the fun.
Advantages of the Hostelworld App
Here, I’d like to highlight the advantages of using the social features of the Hostel World app.
By highlighting them, I hope to ease any potential nervousness you might have, which is totally normal, especially if it’s your first-time solo traveling.
Enhanced Safety and Security: The app provides a sense of security by allowing you to connect with people before you arrive at your destination. You can verify profiles, get to know your potential travel buddies, and plan your adventures together. So no need to leave it to randomness and luck.
Read: Simply but effective hostel safety tips.
Socializing on your own terms: If you’re anything like me, you might actually prefer quieter hostels to go back to after a busy day of adventures and socializing. This app is perfect for traveling this way because you’ll be able to stay in a quiet hostel without alienating yourself from the possibility of socializing on the daily.
Potential Cost Saving: Traveling with a group often means you can split costs for accommodations, tours, and transportation. This can significantly reduce your travel expenses, making your adventures more budget-friendly.
Last-Minute Flexibility: For spontaneous travelers, the app is a goldmine. You can easily find and join activities or meetups happening right now.
Increased Confidence: For those who might be a bit shy or hesitant when it comes to meeting new people, the Hostel World app offers a gradual way to build confidence in socializing. You can start with online chats, then move to group meetups, and finally, venture into private conversations and one-on-one meetups.
Read: Staying in a Hostel for the Very First Time (Guide)
Customized Travel Experiences: With specialized chat communities and event categories, you can tailor your travel experiences to your interests. Whether you’re into sports, food, cultural events, or simply exploring the city, you’ll find like-minded people who share your passions.
Traveler Support Network: In case of emergencies or unexpected situations, having a network of friends you’ve met through the app can be invaluable.
Extended Travel Opportunities: Meeting people through the Hostel World app can lead to invitations to visit their home countries or join them on future adventures. It opens doors to long-lasting friendships and a global network of travel companions.
Positive Mental Health Benefits: Traveling can be emotionally challenging at times, and loneliness is a common issue. The app provides a support system, reducing feelings of isolation and enhancing your overall mental well-being on the road.
Unique Events and Experiences: During low season, when destinations are less crowded, it can be hard to find anyone to vibe within your hostel. The app helps you tap into a bigger network, ensuring you’ll find at least one person to hang out with.
Celebrating Special Occasions: If you’re traveling for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, the app can assist in planning surprise parties, romantic getaways, or memorable celebrations with locals and fellow travelers.
Download the Hostelworld App to get access to all these features.
Potential Concerns and Solutions
While technology is awesome, it also has its fair share of drawbacks.
Here are a few potential concerns and solutions to watch out for
Safety Concerns: Hostelworld takes safety seriously by verifying the properties listed on its platform. This ensures that the accommodations you book are legitimate.
Privacy Worries: The app allows users to control the level of personal information they share. You can choose how much or how little you reveal in your profile, providing a sense of privacy while still enabling social interaction.
Meeting Strangers: The Hostelworld chat communities and events are designed to bring together travelers who share common interests and plans. This means you’re meeting like-minded individuals, which can mitigate the feeling of meeting complete strangers. You can also view profiles and chat before meeting, adding familiarity.
Unwanted Attention: The app’s chat and event features allow you to control the interactions you engage in. If you ever feel uncomfortable or receive unwanted attention, you have the power to block or disengage from certain users, ensuring your comfort and safety.
Uncertainty About Meetup Locations: When creating or joining events, Hostelworld requires a public meeting place to be specified. This feature ensures that meetups occur in well-traveled, safe locations. Additionally, event descriptions often include details about the meetup spot, providing clarity for participants.
Other ways to make friends while traveling alone
While it’s awesome to have a tool like this one to facilitate meeting people while traveling, we’d like to remind you of offline ways to make friends while solo traveling.
We tend to rely on both offline and online ways when abroad – socializing shouldn’t be done in one specific way, it should depend on the mood and energy you’re in.
I personally like rotating between them depending on how social I feel, my energy levels, and my preferences.
I started using technology to make it easier for me to meet people when I started solo traveling in 2021: Countries were just opening up, and super social hostels sometimes only had me as a lone guest, which made it incredibly hard to meet people. Nowadays, things have thankfully gotten better, but online social tools are still awesome to use.
Going offline, here are a few basic tips and tricks on how to meet people when traveling alone:
Attend Local Events: Attending local events, such as festivals, cultural exhibitions, or concerts, exposes you to both locals and fellow travelers who share your interests. Look for event information on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and community boards, or ask your hostel staff for recommendations.
Join Group Tours: Participating in group tours or activities like city walking tours, cooking classes, or adventure excursions offers an opportunity to meet people.
Hang Out in Hostel Common Areas: Hostel common areas, like lounges or communal kitchens, are prime spots for spontaneous interactions with fellow travelers. The beauty of hostels is the relaxed atmosphere where striking up conversations is encouraged. It’s the ideal setting for creating impromptu friendships. Just make sure that the hostel you book actually offers these common areas – some don’t!
Volunteer or Participate in Community Projects: Volunteering in a community project or contributing to a local cause not only benefits the area you’re visiting but also connects you with like-minded individuals. I personally volunteered for 7 years, and I’ve met the majority of my friends through my volunteering experiences!
Visit Co-Working Spaces or Cafés: Co-working spaces and trendy cafés are gathering spots for digital nomads, freelancers, and travelers working remotely. Strike up conversations with people working on their laptops or sipping coffee. Obviously, this one can be a hit or miss: some people (like me) don’t like being bothered when they’re working, so make sure to assess the situation before you make any moves.
Attend Local Sports or Fitness Classes: This doesn’t always work because it depends on the classes you join and your luck with the people attending them. For example: I’ve joined boxing classes in Phuket, and F45 classes in Tokyo and was able to make new friends through them.
Take Language Classes: Enrolling in a local language class provides a structured environment to meet people and learn new skills.
Is it awkward to travel alone?
There is no better way to get to know yourself and grow as a person than by taking a trip on your own. Even if you are an experienced traveler, it is normal to feel anxious before embarking on a solo journey. However, the benefits and excitement of solo travel far outweigh any moment of hesitation or fear you may have. So, pack your bags and take that leap of faith - you won't regret it.
How do introverts travel alone without getting lonely?
If you prefer your own company and enjoy time alone, solo travel is a wonderful choice. It allows you to have complete control over your schedule and set your own pace.
You can choose exactly when to spend time with people or just by yourself. A tip for you to not get overwhelmed or lonely is to find fellow introverts to travel with - chances are that they will share your interests and preferences as well as understand your social needs.
What is a good travel buddy?
A travel companion who enjoys their own company and is confident in spending time alone is also essential for everyone's success on the trip. An ideal partner will not mind if you take some time to yourself or if you change your mind about an activity.
Over to you
So there you have it, the HostelWorld app is your passport to unlocking new friendships, unique experiences, and a whole lot of adventure, regardless of your social tendencies and needs.
What’s next? More useful info:
- Hostel Packing List – 23 items you have to pack
- Hostels from A to Z – A Fun Guide
- Tips for traveling alone as a woman
- Exposing Bathrooms: Ensuite vs. Shared Facilities
- How to Deal with Bed Bugs While Traveling (…and a few Hostel Myths Debunked)
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