From solo traveller to social butterfly: how to make friends on the road

The idea of exploring alone in a foreign country can be daunting for many of us, and for shy or introverted people approaching strangers in hostels might be even more anxiety-inducing. Most Hostelworld travellers are solo explorers, and one of the main reasons they book hostels is to find friends to hang out with. Whether your mates back home aren’t free to up sticks and jet off to the other side of the world, you’ve just gone through a breakup and think ‘f*ck it!’ or you want to push yourself to be more independent, going solo is the best choice for a lot of travellers.  

Last year we launched The Solo System, a range of new app features to help you get social on your journey. You lot have been live laugh loving the new features, especially the group chats. So today we’re here to share your stories! Whether you’re already knee-deep in the convos or are eagerly waiting to try it on your next adventure, here are 5 travellers whose plans made it out the group chat.

1. The Meet Cute in Vietnam 

These two might not be T-Swift fans but they made their own love story. When Benjamin from the UK arrived in Hue, Vietnam, he dropped a message in the Chat inviting other travellers to meet up. Canadian solo traveller Aislinn replied that she was keen to join. Whether it was the twinkling lanterns or the Saigon beer, from the moment they said “hue”, they decided to travel the rest of Vietnam together. Now a couple, they’ve returned from their trip and moved in together in London!  

From solo traveller to social butterfly: how to make friends on the road


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2. The Craic in Dublin 

When Courtney from Vancouver booked a solo holiday to Dublin, she didn’t realise how easy it would be to meet other travellers. 

“Solo travel is truly one of the best things I think anyone can do for themselves, it’s an absolute thrill. But it can also be extremely isolating. I’ve stayed in hostels that didn’t have the best common areas, or sometimes in slower seasons there may be little to no one else in your dorm, making it challenging to find someone to start a conversation with. That’s why I think the addition of this Group Chat feature is so incredible, it’s a great place for EVERYONE to connect.”  

“Before I even touched down for my holiday, I already had plans with a couple of blokes for a cheeky pub crawl the first night, followed by a sightseeing day at the Cliffs of Moher.” Between joining other group plans from the Chat, to arranging her own, she made so many new friends that her family thought she was travelling with 15 mates from home! 

From solo traveller to social butterfly: how to make friends on the road



3. The Love on Tour in Lisbon  

HSLOT, Hostel, almost the same thing, right? Well, it was for Chantelle, who not only found other travellers to hang out with when she landed in Lisbon, but connected with a group of fellow Harry Styles stans and went to see him on tour! Nothing means true friendship like a joint love of Harry. 

From solo traveller to social butterfly: how to make friends on the road - harry styles



4. The New Pals in Puerto Rico  

When Isabelle arrived in Puerto Rico from the US, her hostel wasn’t very social, and she wanted to find people to hang out with. “I had no idea the Chat feature existed and then found that there were a bunch! A Chat for your exact hostel, anyone staying near your hostel, and specific Chats based on your interests you could join!” So, she put some feelers out and ended up direct messaging Sebastian from Argentina, who she met for dinner and drinks that night. “We were both lonely solo travellers looking to hang out with someone, and we couldn’t have done it without the Hostelworld Chat.” Isabelle documented it on her TikTok and it’s giving wholesome ✨. 

From solo traveller to social butterfly: how to make friends on the road



5. The Sights in Sintra  

Looking to see a more local side to Lisbon, Ciara met others in the Chat who wanted to do the same. Just one day after introducing herself she was on her way to Sintra, a fairytale town packed with picturesque palaces and cliff-edge castles perched on the Portuguese Riviera. Journeying back to the capital, they continued their plans with a party on Pink Street. “It was so easy to connect with other solo travellers through the Chat!” 

From solo traveller to social butterfly: how to make friends on the road



Whether you need help breaking the ice or want to cheat-code your way to speedy friendships, The Solo System has your back. Who knows, one message could change the trajectory of your trip, and life after. If that’s not doing it for the plot, we don’t know what is. From connecting in group chats, perusing profiles of people with shared interests, to joining IRL Linkups, simply make a booking to get stuck in.  



Download the Hostelworld app to start meeting people from the moment you book

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About The Author

Michaella Fenton

Michaella is a freelance Content and Social Media Consultant specialising in helping travel, lifestyle and sustainability brands build communities through quality content. When she's not backpacking to new places, she's living the beach life Cornwall, hiking around the UK and skiing in the alps.

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