Los Angeles Hotels Blog

April 6, 2010

How to meet people when traveling alone

When you’re traveling the highways and byways of the planet, if you’re going it alone and desire some company, I’ve discovered one way to meet people is to book several overnight stays at a hostel. Why a hostel? Well, the atmosphere is casual and there’s bound to be someone you can hook up with; global travelers of all ages visit hostels on a regular basis, so there’s no telling who you might meet. Anyway, an overnight stay can run as low as $12 a bed. Compare that price to any roadside lodge.

For the uninitiated, a hostel (technically these lodges are known as youth hostels, but age restrictions have been lifted in most cases) is generally a dormitory-style lodging facility providing an inexpensive place to sleep and shower (four to twelve people per sleeping room, depending on your budget), with many facilities offering a variety of services such as laundry amenities and public kitchens. And how did this form of budget lodging begin? Strangely enough, it was through the ideology of the German Youth Movement and the concept of inner city youths participating in wooded outdoor activities; for the most part, these youths managed their own living quarters. A century later and the concept has been fine tuned to offer a budget stay like no other. The type of hostel you choose can be as varied as the place you visit too.

When I vacationed in the Los Angeles area in 1999, Hostelling International (HI) was my choice of venues. HI is 4000 hostels strong in over 60 countries and this particular location offered two hundred plus rooms in a modern facility with most of the conveniences of home. Situated not two blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, at $18 a night, one couldn’t go wrong.

After a day of gathering my bearings, I met Kelly. On hiatus from her teaching position in Australia, this 30-year old cutie decided on a weekend trip to the San Diego Zoo. I naturally tagged along. And it was her recommendation we stay at a Backpacker’s hostel. A far cry from a HI facility, this independent hostel, but part of franchised network as well, was located right in the heart of the Gas Lamp District of San Diego and sported such amenities as a homey historical feeling and free beer. Which was right on target with Kelly and that Australian thirst. Hey, she drank me under the table.

By Sunday afternoon, a Greyhound bus was carrying Kelly to her next destination and a similar transport returned me to HI, where I met Julia within a day. And over the course of the next two weeks, this young woman from Germany and myself participated in a number of events sponsored by the hostel. One such instance was a live taping of a then popular sitcom and another involved a showing of van Gogh paintings at a local museum. The point here is that even if I hadn’t met those two ladies, the hostel may have provided plenty of opportunities for some form of a relationship to blossom. So, you never know.

Well, Julia was bound for some small island off the coast of Africa to begin an internship, and me, I was on my way to Memphis. So, if the traveling bone has you under its spell and you’re going it alone, try the social environment of a hostel if the need for company arises. You’ll definitely enjoy the adventure and you might make a friend or two in the process.

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