Cottesloe Beach, Perth, WA © Tourism Western Australia
6 ways to make friends while travelling
From temporary travel companions to lifelong friends, backpacking is all about community. Use these helpful tips to learn how to make friends and meet people while travelling.
By Leah Dobihal and Carly Spek
Take a tour
Tours are a great way to experience something new while making friends. Depending on the tour you choose, you could find yourself among dozens of friendly faces or exploring with a more intimate group. You’ll likely be touring with well-travelled backpackers, so while you're wandering the Daintree or driving over sand dunes, take the chance to ask about some travel tips for your bucket list destinations.
Chill out in communal hostel spaces
Staying in a hostel is one of the best ways to make friends on holiday. Not only are the rooms usually shared, but there are also plenty of communal spaces for striking up a conversation. Some hostels have rooftops, lounge rooms, bars or games rooms, all of which are perfect for meeting fellow travellers. Be sure to also check your hostel’s calendar, or ask the front desk about activities – many venues organise fun events like pub crawls, guided walks or games tournaments.
Be flexible with your itinerary
While it’s a good idea to book some tours and transportation in advance, especially during busier seasons, it’s also great to stay flexible. You might find out your hostel roommates are travelling somewhere you’re eager to visit, or that they have a spare seat on their next road trip adventure. Not only will flexibility give you the freedom to change plans as you hear about lesser-known locations you want to explore, but it also offers the opportunity to travel with new friends.
Take a class
If you’re ready to learn something new and make a friend along the way, sign up for a class. In Australia’s cities, like Sydney and Melbourne, you’ll find everything from cooking and photography classes to surfing and scuba diving lessons. Taking a class allows you to connect with people who share your interests, and more leisurely classes, like cocktail making, give you plenty of time to chat with those around you.
Attending an event is another excellent way to meet new people. Australia has a jam-packed events calendar all year round, giving you ample opportunity to meet backpackers and locals alike. No matter your interest, there’s an Australian event to suit. Head to Dark Mofo for experimental art, light displays and comedy in Hobart, or grab tickets to Splendour in the Grass, where you can camp under the Byron Bay stars as you listen to an eclectic mix of music.
Start a conversation
Perhaps the best tip for making friends as a backpacker is to simply ask. Just like the locals, the backpacking community tends to be friendly, inclusive and welcoming, so starting a conversation and asking to join in on plans can be very rewarding. You might find yourself laughing over a meal, riding a camel train across a beach at sunset or even continuing on your holiday with newly-made friends.