Yes. I’m back in Nepal. Wasn’t terribly looking forward to it – gotten so lazy spending a whole two weeks in Sg, but coming back feels like home – at least Elbrus does. “Welcome back!” the owner, Khem, said, with a big hug ready for me. “Welcome home, you mean,” I replied. Travelling alone can get pretty lonely, but thankfully I’ve got to meet so many wonderful people here at Elbrus Home, I figured it’s only appropriate I did a “10 Ways to Meet People at a Hostel”. At least, it’s worked for me. ;P
1. Have breakfast when others are
If it’s noisy downstairs, there’s likely lots of people having breakfast. The more crowded it is, the better. Look for tables with 2 or 3 people (if it’s 4 to a table), so you can say “Hey guys, do you mind if I join you?” (P.S. Pick the table with the cutest guys if you can.) If you’re at a table by yourself, don’t hesitate to invite the next person who comes down for breakfast to join you, especially if they’re alone too. Everyone appreciates a kind gesture like that.
2. Check the place out when you just check in
Walk around and scout where the common areas are, so you know where people “hang out”. It could be a common living area, or it could be a rooftop garden – if you peep in and there are people there, just say “Hey guys, I just got here and I’m checking the place out. This looks like a great place to chill!” You’ll likely get an invitation to join them (if they’re not an elitist bunch and/or you don’t look like a troll.)
3. Ask for a dorm instead of a private room
Clearly this works for budget reasons as well, but sleeping in a dorm almost always guarantees you’ll meet one other person at least. Specify you don’t mind a mixed dorm, otherwise hostel owners try and give girls girls-only rooms (Where’s the fun in that? Kidding.).
4. Hang around in the mornings and at night
That’s when people are usually deciding what to do, so if you can get into a conversation, you’ll likely be able to join in on their plans as well. Useful for lazy planners like me! Get roped in on day plans like exploring the city together, or night plans like which bars and clubs have the best 1-for-1 offers during happy hours.
5. Carry a Lonely Planet around
If you’re sitting somewhere with a Lonely Planet guide, it’s likely at some point someone’s gonna ask you what it says about some place they’re planning to check out. Or – be the one that asks the someone who’s got the guide.
6. Go through your photos in public
Sit somewhere conspicuous and go through the pictures you took the day before. Someone’s bound to notice them and either ask where that was (if they haven’t been), or start talking about their experience (if they have). This usually works better if you have awesome photography skills (I don’t, but can lah.).
7. Don’t stay in your room
Whatever you want to do, it’s probably better (and nicer) to do it outside than stuck in your little cubic hole. Read, write in your journal, or charge your phone or laptop in the common area instead of your room. (Say the power point in your room doesn’t work if you need to – I’ve also gotten invites to use the power points in others’ rooms so this really works on more than one level, if you know what I mean.) If you’re using your phone or laptop, use it while it’s charging here too. Or – use the public shared computer if there is one. Ask people for wifi passwords instead of asking the owners or looking around for signs (even if that makes you look dumb).
8. Remember who’s staying there too
Look around and make a mental note of who’s also staying at the hostel. If it’s a small town or city, chances are you’ll bump into them at a restaurant, night market, place of interest… and you can say, “Hey, aren’t you staying at (hostel name) too?” People usually like bumping into people from the same hostel because it means company walking back together (especially at night, and especially good if you’re a solo female traveller like me.)
9. Hang around just before lunch and dinner times
Likely people are just back from a half day or full day tour and are freshening up to go out for a meal. Ask if they have any recommendations. They’ll likely say they were planning to check such-and-such place out. A shameless “Oh yeah? That sounds lovely!” will usually get you an invite.
10. Keep your eyes and ears open
There’ll be questions that you’ll be able to provide answers to (especially if you’ve spent a few days there already). There’ll be people knocking at the door of the hostel at the eleventh hour that you can suggest bunking in with you if there’s an extra bed in your room (this makes it easier on the owners too so they don’t have to scratch their head wondering who they can disturb at that hour). There’ll be people interested in checking out places you might be interested in too so you can go check them out together. There’ll be people interested in checking out places that sound so much cooler than what you were planning, so just drop your plans and go with theirs already. And there’ll be people who will find you gorgeous, attractive, funny, witty, and a blast to be with. Spend days and hours on end with them. *wink*