Newbie tip: 4 destinations that are great for finding travel companions
If you’re heading out on a solo backpacking trip, meeting travelling companions is probably going to be high on your agenda. As we’ve said here many times, companions are indispensable when you’re on a long hostelling trip: they offer fun, support, and ideas about what to do and where to go next. They don’t have to become BFFs, but they often do.
When it comes to actually finding like-minded travellers, not all backpacker destinations are created equal. Sure, with the right attitude you can make friends anywhere – but some places get a bigger proportion of first-timers, which makes them great for meeting people who are at the same stage of their journey as you are. (The priorities and attitudes of newbies and veterans are often quite different, which can make for good conversations but awkward co-travelling experiences.)
If that’s your situation, here are four starting points to consider when booking hostels for your trip:
Obviously. Bangkok (Kho San road and Rambuttri), Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Kho Phangan, Krabi… the list goes on. Thailand is packed with cheap hostels and full of backpackers. That said, you can expect a particularly wide range of travellers here, from mature world-trippers on sabbatical to young youth hostellers headed for the beaches and bars. So while you’ll meet loads of people in a city centre hostel in Bangkok, they aren’t guaranteed to be your ‘type’. To run into some like-minded people make sure you get out and about, doing tours, activities, cookery courses or whatever else floats your long-tail boat.
Next stop: Cambodia or Vietnam
The amazing scenery, upbeat attitude and outdoorsy lifestyle of Oz make it a winner for backpackers. First-time travellers from the northern hemisphere tend to love it, because it’s safe, it’s English-speaking and it enjoys summer while Europe and the US are in the depths of winter. Sydney’s a hugely popular gateway (as well as being a cracking city) but you’ll also run into masses of backpackers in cosmopolitan Melbourne, and along the glorious beaches of the Queensland coast.
Next stop: Head even further south to New Zealand, or into Asia via Hong Kong or Japan.
Destinations come and go, but India has never really fallen off the backpacker trail. The culture shock can be considerable, but such is India’s fascination that it remains a draw for first-time travellers (and hey, sometimes it’s good to jump in at the deep end). While some of India’s cheap hostels draw a party-hungry crowd - particularly around the famed beaches of Goa - you can be fairly confident that any backpacker friends you make while travelling the country will be curious, adventurous and culturally switched on. And if any of them aren’t, there’ll be another set along any minute.
Next stop: North to Nepal for some phenomenal hiking.
Czech Republic (specifically, Prague)
We could’ve picked any number of European capitals really - Amsterdam’s full of backpackers, Florence full of itinerant art students holed up in cheap hostels, and so on. But Prague has something special. It’s beautiful, attracting a mix of party crowds and culture-hungry travellers; the choice of hostels in the city centre is superb; and best of all, Prague occupies a brilliant central position on the European mainland. Make some inter-railing pals here and you can strike out almost anywhere from
stunning Art Deco main station.
Next stop: Up to you! Europe is your oyster…