The 8 People You Meet in a Hostel
by Ronnie Charrier & Phoebe Blyth
Hostels are strange places, where travelers from all walks of life (generally those at the lower end of the economic scale) congregate to drink cheap local poison, cook on the dodgy stove, and share their stories. We know that meeting new people (especially if you are traveling alone) can at times be daunting, so we’ve compiled a handy “Who’s Who” of Hostelry to give you an idea of what you are in for when you nervously strike up a conversation. You experienced travelers already know what we’re talking about and will hopefully get a good laugh out of this, as you reminisce on those memorable characters you have met along the way.
Here they are, in no particular order: the 8 people you will meet in a hostel:
The Time Traveler
This person’s eyes are bigger than their traveling stomach can handle. They have a short and inflexible time frame, and in order to ‘get the most out of their trip’ have decided to see every major city and landmark in a 1000 mile radius. This person has drank the coolaid of lies fed them by Contiki, BusAbout and Lonely Planet, assuring them that is possible to see Europe/Central America/South East Asia in a fortnight, neglecting to mention that it will cost them their sanity and several thousand dollars. Whilst some of these people will actually get to take their pictures in front of the Eifel Tower, Guinness factory, and Colosseum, they will all spend more time on buses and in airport terminals than anyone ever should.
The Young at Heart, Long in Tooth Traveler
These veterans can be recognized by their Thai fisherman’s pants, sun-warn skin, and loudly regaled tales of adventure at the bar. Never having found their niche in civilized society, these nomads wander the earth indefinitely, staying in every place “for a while”, frequenting the same backpacker joints, hostel bars, and surf spots they sought out when they first started their wanderings a million years ago. Be careful not to engage them in a discussion of politics, diet or conspiracy theories, as you may never surface alive.
The Gap Year Traveler
This particular type of traveler is always seen with three or more of their “mates” and sporting a collection of brightly colored wristbands from various festivals and bar crawls they’ve recently attended. Their idea of bringing back souvenirs from their trip is the shot glasses and funny hats they’ve accumulated from every city they visit and their stories of culture range from being drunk at the Louvre to being drunk in the Colosseum.
They fist pump and woo hoo their way through the most popular tourist destinations taking ‘selfies’ in their bathing suits and drinking tequila for breakfast. They will inevitably be found playing Kaskade and Tiesto as loud as possible until 4 am. Their goal, of course, is to reach Amsterdam. This also applies to study-abroad students.
These absurdly fit and highly accomplished couples are inexplicably traveling with small children, usually to the coolest places to do potentially fatal things. Their children speak multiple languages, even the ones who can’t talk yet. They spend less money than you, do more than you, and (unlike you and your partner) never have a three-day fight over who misread the bus timetable.
You will conclude that they must have negotiated 25 hours in every day and 8 days in each week because you can’t possibly fathom how they’ve managed to get their PhD while raising children and going on incredible adventures. Adding to all of this is the fact that they are kind and generous and often take a road-worn and poor traveler like yourself under their wing.
The Lone Ranger
This enigmatic character is shrouded in mystery. They are traveling alone, usually for long periods of time, with no discernible plan – at least not one that they’ve divulged to you. They are always adorned with one of the following: a tattoo acquired in a Buddhist temple after spending a night of spiritual enlightenment with the monks; a piece of jewelry given to them at the conclusion of a brief but torrid love affair with a local they met in some undiscovered beach town; some kind of permanent hair adornment such as feathers, die or dreads.
They are almost unbearably cool, and you feel compelled to invite them to join you in whatever you are doing, but they invariably, and without explanation, fail to show up. You’ll see them doing yoga by themselves on the beach, walking alone taking pictures, and yet when you go out at night people flock to them like bees to honey. And just as easily as they are the center of attention, they slide away unnoticeable to wherever these individuals go.
This guy will show up at your hostel with a brand new guitar, logos on all his clothes, and an impressive stash of alcohol. He is usually older than your average traveler – a late twenties, early thirties – and generous to a fault with his money and alcohol, in exchange for ear-bashing anyone who will listen about how he has “quit the phony world of business/fame/inheritance/dating models” and come out into the world to find himself.
He drinks too much, talks too loudly, shamelessly hits on every girl within reach, and inevitably shows you a picture of him and Justin Bieber at his last Malibu house party. Although he’s on this trip to find himself, he’s really just trying to find some girl who will be impressed by his “new found” take on life – which he’s blatantly stolen from “The Beach” – and sleep with him. At the end of the night, however, all he’s found is the wifi password.
It’s their first time traveling. He wanted to go on an adventure holiday; she wanted to relax under a palm tree with a mojito. They thought hostel life would be fun and a good way to meet new people. They end up sleeping in bunk beds, appalled at every other kind of traveler they meet, and constantly fighting, while at the same time, desperately trying to appear not to in front of their new friends. She has the potential to become wildly jealous of any girls who make friends with her significant other, and he is often known to annoy everyone by trying to impress others with his knowledge of whatever activity or location they happen to be engaged in at the time, whilst actually knowing very little.
The Man With The Plan
He has meticulously mapped out every possible facet of his journey and is quite excited to explain it all to you. He has already called ahead to book hotels and reserve tour spots: this guy has it all sorted. Before he left for the trip he went on a thousand dollar shopping spree at Northface, picking up every item he got off Lonely Planet’s “be prepared” travel list. You can count on him to always know the wifi password, have a lighter handy, and be on first name terms with the hostel owner. However he has no time for spontaneity or flexibility, and is usually unwilling to adjust his plans to accommodate yours.
No matter your destination, be assured that these people will cross your path. Meet them with an open-mind, because as they say, it’s the people you meet that make the journey. See you out there!
This was a guest post by travellers Ronnie Charrier and Phoebe Blyth.
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This article was published in August 2013.