Traveling can get a bit lonely sometimes but, if you commit to living in hostels, you have the opportunity to make some lifelong friends. There is no group of people more diverse and dynamic that travelers so you should never miss an opportunity to meet some. "But how," I hear you cry out! It's a process I've developed spending arduous hours making a fool of myself developing. Read what's below and you'll be a veritable expert.
Location, location, location!
There are many different types of hostels and some of them are very oriented around having people meet one another. Aim for these ones. Hostels with great common rooms, ample board games, or scheduled pub crawls are the types you want to be going to. They can be horrendously corny and forced but then you'll have another reason to bond with your hostel-mates. The best times in my life were spent around a pool table or playing a game of chess in the common room of a hostel.
They're more afraid of you than you are of them
Everyone is worried about meeting other people; you're definitely not alone in that anxiety. The key is to be the icebreaker. Be enterprising! If you want to talk to someone, just ask them a question. It doesn't even matter what question it is! What are you reading? What's the weather like here? Why are you looking at me like I'm crazy? These are just some of the many ways you can start getting to know the people around you. Don't think about it! Just go!
Don't wait. Do!
Once you've gotten to talking to some people and want to hang out outside the hostel, ask! Don't wait for other people to ask you; you should be the one asking other people. Become what you want others to be for you. If they don't hang out, fine - good even! It's better to know that someone isn't interested in you sooner rather than later. And, even if they aren't, there are always more people. That's why hostels are so fantastic; there are so many people!
Finally, have fun!
When traveling around the world, you need to put yourself above others. If you want to be alone, be alone. If you want to be hanging out with other people, go out of your way to make that a reality. Traveling is about putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation and thriving despite, or, maybe, as a result of it. Making friends sucks but being alone is far worse.
A bit vague, I know, but the advice above is invaluable, at least to me, while you're traveling. Don't be afraid of making a fool of yourself. One of my best friends in the world, I met when I got stuck in a gorge. The weirdest situations make the best social environments. By the end of your trip, not only should you be further enlightened but you should also have many more friends located all around the globe. Get going!