Having being diagnosed with anxiety myself, I can completely relate to the struggles when trying to mingle and meet new people on the road. Always worried about making a fool of myself or being called out on strange habits… but the truth is, it barely ever happens.
…and honestly that’s the beauty of travel.
So here are my top 10 tips for making friends a little less daunting.
1. Research research research!
It’s always a great idea to research the hostels beforehand, almost all hostels include reviews online, some of the best websites to check out are; Agoda, Booking.com and airb&b, this way you can pick and choose any kind of hostel atmosphere you’re after.
I would definitely recommend starting out in a quiet/art hostel. Research beforehand to get a feel for the place by checking out the reviews online.
2. Stay in a dorm
This is an obvious choice but it really does make a difference. Shared dorms are a fantastic way to mingle and get to know other people. The size of the dorm is up to you.
I find that a smaller dorm of around 4 to 8 people rather than 12+ really allows me the opportunity to speak and get to know people individually.
If you’re not really into sharing with lots of people you can opt for a smaller dorm or private room of about 2 to 3 people, the perks to this mean less people to worry about and a quieter environment.
On the downside though, private smaller rooms may cost more.
I have a dedicated post on My Favourite Affordable Hostels in Europe
3. Join a project
For me half the battle when meeting people is finding a common ground or mutual interest to talk about, so I generally opt for events at the hostel, these can vary from themed nights, movie nights or my personal favourite a photography tour.
Walking tours are also a great way to get involved with other people that generally require more following and listening, than speaking yourself.
Never be ashamed to feel the need to take a break, large groups can be quite overwhelming.
Simply dismiss yourself from the group and take a few moments to gather yourself, sit somewhere quiet, go for a walk or practice some breathing exercises, this is a great page Headspace which includes lots of tips and meditation advice.
5. Seek out other solo travellers
Chances are these people may be in the same situation as you. I find that approaching just one other person is considerably less stressful than approaching a group. (Groups can be intimidating, especially if they are travelling together and already know each other)
Other solo travellers may be just as anxious or as lonely for some companionship too.
6. Be open minded
Travel really opens your mind to new ideas and views. Along with meeting people from all walks of life.
You will be suprised to learn just how many people there are out there who are also facing their own battles too, whether this is emotionally, memtally or even physically.
Everybody requires a listening ear from time to time.
7. Try to be social
I know this is difficult for some but try not to use your phone as a shield and ignore what’s going on.
Join in with board games, try a book exchange or even ask if people if they would like a hand with cooking.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple question to break down barriers.
8. Online Travel Groups/Communities
One of my greatest discoveries was finding a great community online called Girls Love Travel – that have a very popular Facebook and Instagram page as well as off shoot pages for local areas in your country.
They often arrange meet ups.
I also recommend to my friend that they check out this page and post asking about any meet ups in their area or any upcoming gatherings in the near future along your travels.
This is a great opportunity to arrange to meet individuals on your travels.
Really check out this page.
9. Share a skill or hobby
Do you know another language, are you able to help somebody with their English, it’s surprising how many people (or at least in my experiences) have asked me to help them with their English.
10. Be proud of your achievements
Going alone out into the world is both exciting and stressful at the same time. However do take a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come.
Give yourself credit for successfully planning and executing this trip. Realise and appreciate your bravery… getting on that plane, finding your way to the hostel and settling in the best you can, even if you do need to pause from time to time.
Seriously, you’re a badass! You’ve got this!
I hope these tips will help you on your ways to making great friends and greater memories. Below I will include a few extra tips to take note.
Always remember – with anxiety…
- People are not always out to get you
- Not everybody is judging you
- If you need to take a break, politely excuse yourself
- You don’t always have to say yes to invites
- You don’t always have to be around people 24/7
- Do enjoy your own company
- Talk to people, you will be surprised how many people do understand and can relate
- Remember to breathe
- Anxiety has a good way of making us think something bad is going to happen, even if nothing has happened yet, remember it’s just a mind trick
- Be proud of what you have achieved so far
- Have fun
- 98% You will never meet most of these people again, so don’t sweat it.
…and lastly thank you so much for taking the time to read this post, I really hope this will help some of you out there.
If there is anything I have missed and would like me to include then feel free to comment below or connect with me on Instagram.
Happy (safe) travels!