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11 tips on choosing a hostel as a shy solo traveller

When I first started travelling solo, I didn’t stay in hostels. As someone who’s always been shy, the thought of staying at a hostel made me nervous and, only knowing what I’d heard, I expected them to be full of typically loud, party-going fellow travellers. The thought of sharing a room with a bunch of strangers also really didn’t sound like my cup of tea. So instead of hostels, I started off in hotels before moving to private rooms in hostels. Once I did that, I quickly became comfortable enough to try a four bed female dorms and by the end of my first solo trip I was staying 10-bed mixed dorms. Given that hostels were once upon a time extremely overwhelming for me, too, I’ve put together a list of my best tips for choosing a hostel as a shy solo traveller.

Ease yourself into hostel-style accommodation

Staying at a hostel as a shy solo traveller for the first time can be a little intimidating. This is why I would suggest baby steps rather than going all in right away – unless that’s what you want to do!

Book a private room in a hostel

If you’re uncomfortable staying in a dormitory-style room, consider booking a private room. While it may be more expensive, it can provide a sense of security and privacy. Private rooms are a great way to experience the social part of hostels, with the bonus of having somewhere private to relax, unwind and sleep.

Book a bed in a small dorm room

If you’re ready to give a dorm a go, smaller dorms can feel less overwhelming and more conducive to forming connections with fellow travellers. As I mentioned above, I booked a four-bed female-only dorm for my first shared room experience. Again, it’s okay to ease into it. I’d say, in relation to shared rooms, four-bed female-only dorms would be my preference.

Look for smaller hostels

Smaller hostels tend to have a more intimate atmosphere, potentially making it easier to meet and interact with fellow travellers without feeling overwhelmed. If there aren’t any smaller hostels in the destination you’re staying, look for medium-sized hostels rather than large, bustling ones (which you’ll be able to suss out when you look at reviews, which I’ll get to shortly).

Look for hostels that have spaces to relax outside of your room

Staying in a dorm can be a little strange at first and you may not find the dorm room the best place to wind down after a day out exploring. Some hostels offer designated quiet zones or relaxation areas where guests can unwind without feeling obligated to socialise. These spaces are great for shy (or introverted) solo travellers when they need some time alone.

Do your research

Research is pretty important because you want to make sure you’re setting yourself up in the most possible situation. If you’re already a little intimidated about staying in hostels, the last thing you need is to end up in one that’s the worst possible fit for you.

Check reviews

Look for hostels with positive reviews from solo travellers. Pay attention to comments about the atmosphere, friendliness of the staff and opportunities for solo travellers to meet and interact with others.

Atmosphere

Mentioned above, but this one is especially important when choosing the right hostel. Look for hostels that promote a social atmosphere without being overly party-focused. Seek out reviews that mention a friendly and inclusive environment where guests feel comfortable mingling at their own pace.

Friendly and approachable staff

Choose a hostel where the staff are known for their friendliness and approachability. Friendly staff members can make shy travellers feel welcome and supported during their stay, providing valuable recommendations and assistance when needed.

Look for opportunities to meet other travellers

Did you know that even typically non-shy people get nervous about meeting people while they’re solo travelling? This means you’re not alone and most other solo travellers are going to be in the same boat as you (they may just be a little louder). The best thing to look for in hostels as a shy person who wants to make friends is looking for a hostel that offers relaxed settings to do so.

Research common areas

Choose a hostel with inviting common areas where you can hang out and meet other travelers in a relaxed environment. This could be a lounge, kitchen, or outdoor terrace. I’ve always found the kitchen the easiest place for me as a shy solo traveller to feel most at ease striking up a conversation.

Join hostel activities

Look for hostels that organise structured activities or events for guests because these are such a good way to meet new people and make the most of hostel life. These activities or events might include walking tours, movie nights, cooking classes, pub crawls, day trips, or group dinners. Participating in these activities can really help us shy travellers break the ice and connect with other travellers.

Be open-minded

Especially in hostels, but most travellers are friendly and open to meeting new people. Don’t be afraid to just say “hi” or join a group activity. You might be surprised by the connections you make and the experiences you might end up having by putting yourself out there – even if it’s a bit uncomfortable or awkward to begin with!

Last but most importantly…

Always trust your instincts

Ultimately, just like you do with everything else as a solo traveller, trust your gut when choosing a hostel. If a particular hostel feels like the right fit for you based on its social media, website, reviews, and overall vibe, go with your gut instinct.

 

Let’s chat!

Are you looking to book a hostel as a shy solo traveller for the first time? Let me know if you have any additional questions in the comments or feel free to message me via my contact page.

Fellow shy solo travellers who may have struggled with staying in hostels initially too, what advice would you add?

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