Hostels can be a special place, a literal melting pot of different nationalities and personalities, that allows travellers to come together to experience a new place. So many friendships, and even romantic hijinx, have spawned inside their walls and chances are staying in one will make your time even better. With that said though, not all is constantly great and there will be people that may bring your time down. Sometimes there may be some pretty odd types loitering in hostels. A few more people you meet in hostels include:
The guy who plays his guitar
This is a guy who took the trouble of bringing his guitar along with him for a backpacking trip, which is no small feat. Generally life on the road is no time to practice so there is only one reason that the guitar is there… to play in front of the other people at the hostel. Now this can be a good thing depending if the guitar guy is good, but an ear screeching atrocity if they are bad. Also, listening to a person play guitar amounts to just watching them rather than talking to the other travelers, which is kind of a buzz kill. The guitar guys is alright, and is thought of a such by the other travelers, but really… they should have left the guitar at home.
The I can top you traveller
So there is a group together in the common room of the hostel all having beers. You have the floor and you are telling everyone about the time you were almost pick pocketed in Paris…. all of a sudden, he blurts out: “ohhh that’s nothing, you should have seen the pick pockets in Rome.” The topic changes and someone talks about an amazing night out in Amsterdam. All of a sudden the same guy blurts out: “ohhh that’s nothing, you should have seen the things I saw in the Red Light District.” And without explaining more, there you have the” I can top you travelers”, a kind of narcissist who always thinks their experiences are better and more important than those of everyone else. Generally a hostel citizen that is quickly not liked by most people…
The overly eager American girl
Now she may be pretty, which is a benefit, but she will come with a seemingly unreal amount of enthusiasm about this new experience she is having. Everything will be amazing, praise worthy and her smile will not leave her face… All the people from the different countries will be so interesting to her, with their little accents and customs, and she will enjoy telling you at length all the wonderful perceptions she is having about all this “newness.” This is the overly eager American girl who hasn’t, and perhaps never will, notice that people will only be interested to listen for a little – unless it’s the guy trying to score her…
Hostels are fascinating little micro universes that bring out the cream of humanity and often the dredge. In most cases, it’s just a collection of younger people who are open minded and adventurous enough to see the world. These people much to their delight are thrust together to party, hang out, and sleep eight to a room with people from all over the world. Usually this is wicked grouping, but there are a few character types that often show up in most hostels that bring the entire enterprise down a notch. This blog is going to discuss a few of these hostel characters.
The travel know it all
In any group of travelers there will emerge a person who knows more about every place than everyone else. Doesn’t matter if you lived in that place a year and he or she have been there 4 days they will know more about it than you including the best things to see and all the hot spots to drink. There can be no arguing with the travel know it all since the acuity of their perception outmatches Lonely Planet, the Rough Guide, Forbes and even locals to a place. Generally this person will be shunned by anyone that has been there for longer than a few days and will find newbies to the hostel to bother.
… No it’s not me
The constantly stoned guy
Living in hostels and traveling around definitely has some bohemian qualities to it. With that said, there are plenty of backpackers enjoying a little puff every now and then. Having a beer and a spliff fits well into hostel etiquette, but there will always be that guy around a hostel who is 24/7 red eyed stoned. Really he isn’t a bad guy as he usually shares. Perhaps he won’t be the most communicative, but every once in a while he may share some shards of insight to be enjoyed.
The old guy trying to pretend he’s still young
Hostels are places where people less than 30, and often less than 26 to be honest, go to hang together, see the world, party and have fun. There is lots of the pre-mentioned partying and a fair share of hooking up, which is all fine and good till there is a 38 year old guy acting like he is 24 and trying weasel his way into younger girl’s underwear. Generally this guy is tolerated, as he tells the others that age is just a number and that he’ll never conform. The old guy playing young generally creeps out the girls and is a source of amusement for the other guys.
In cool circles it always considered a fashionable thing to discuss ones love of travel. People’s ears perk up when the talk turns to a wonderful trip to Paris or about a safari in Nigeria. With that said though, maybe traveling just isn’t your thing. Maybe being in the city you are from and staying in a routine suits you better? In this article we are going to discuss a few tell tale signs for a person out on the road that show that perhaps travel just isn’t their thing.
Although this would be a cool place to live…
Obsessively wondering about Home
Okay, anybody on the road may take a moment to wonder what is going on back home, but the reality is that the excitement of what is going on right where you are is A) probably more exciting, and B) where your focus should be. Sometimes you meet people traveling that spend all their time away trying to get to social media so they can talk to people back home. If you are one of these people who cares more about people you will see again in a week, rather than the moments that are once in a life time abroad perhaps travel just isn’t your thing.
Anger towards things that are different
Walking down the streets of European cities sometimes you will here foreigners talking loudly about how every thing there is SO weird and not at all like it is back home. Naturally, the locals, whom if they are less than 40 usually understand English, think to themselves why doesn’t this person head on home then? It is natural to notice differences in customs and rules, but the joy of travel is trying to understand these differences and find them interesting. Not using them to prove to yourself, and those around you, that your home is the best. If you find yourself seeing things as weird and really second rate to back home, and this is a dominant theme in your thoughts, perhaps travel isn’t for you…
Difficulty connecting to people of different cultures
The final sign is a person that just cannot bring themselves to connect to people from other countries. Rather than seeing that a person’s differences are intriguing and alluring they are scared by them and because of that wall off from connecting or even trying to connect. This type of person is too hardwired in their culture’s customs and the group dynamic of their friendship networks back home and just can’t break past them. If that is you, perhaps travel just isn’t your thing.
Facebook has become much maligned for wasting people’s time and disconnecting them from the travel experience. Definitely some of those complaints are valid, but what is also valid is that there are ways to use Facebook in order to best maximise your trip. Specifically, there are some things you should do on Facebook before you actually leave. The following tips will help you best connect to people in the place you are going and get as much information from people that have been there before.
Post your specific travel plans and ask your network for advice
Most of the best things you can do in foreign countries can be found in the advice of people that have visited or lived there. So with that in mind, before you head down to Santiago, Chilie – or where ever else you are going – ask people on Facebook in a status update if they have advice on things to do, places to see, and places to stay. You will be surprised that when you request advice from others that they will be very inclined to give it if they have knowledge. This will generate a lot more useful tidbits than simply saying you are going somewhere. The personalized advice you receive will be better than that from a guide book or from online.
Use FaceBooks City pages to locate friends that know about the city you are going
By entering the name of any city in Facebook search bar you can – after sifting through some advertisements – on the lower left of the screen find an icon that says: Friends that have visited xxxx. Whatever the city you are visiting this will show you which of your friends have been there before. Perhaps too they will have contacts they can put you in touch with when you get there. This type of highly specific information about a place can really add that cherry on top to your trip. When using this tool you can specifically inquire with these contacts using a Facebook message to ask the person about the place. Almost all travelers are more than happy to talk about a place they have been to others.
Use Face Book to reach out to weak connections
When you are about to head off on a trip the time is right to use Facebook to touch base with some weaker Facebook connections – people perhaps you only know a little bit – in order to make connections where you are going. I personally remember once using this technique to contact a guy I had met one night at a house party in Copenhagen. Not only did we meet for drinks three years later in Copenhagen, when we realized that we clicked as friends, I ended up spending a month living on his couch that summer. We are still close friends now. The moral of the story try reaching out to people in a polite way and just see what happens.
Sometimes you will see travelers with their nose inside a Lonely Planet while they are on a trip reading every little bit they can rather than just being out experiencing the city. On the other hand some travelers fly completely by the seat of their pants and can’t find accommodations when they arrive somewhere and have no clue what there is to see in the city. Obviously there is error in both positions of how to use a guide book that will most certainly affect the time those visitors have in a foreign location. This blog is going to talk a little bit about how to use your guide book as a tool while still soaking in the experience of the new place you are in.
Get the Basics
Having been a traveler myself I can say that it is a daunting feeling having almost no knowledge of a city when you arrive. The first thing that needs to be done when you get to a new city is to at least plan a place you are going to stay. These days most people usually find a place and book it on line. A guide book can help you choose by giving impartial advice as to what hostel or hotel will suit your budget and needs. Importantly too, guide books usually give you instructions and maps how to get to the accommodations you have chosen. Without these crucial pieces of information you will feel completely disoriented when arriving.
Study before you get there, enjoy while you are there
A good tip is to spend time while in transit studying the place you will be visiting. This can be a great opportunity to read over interesting things you can see in the city you are visiting and finding out fun things that you can do. If you are a planner you may even start organizing your time as to how you will fill it. With that said, spend time getting acquainted with the place so that when you are there the guide book can just become a quick reference to direct you to the things that you want to do. What is to be avoided is doing research on the place while there instead of experiencing it as you probably only have a limited time frame.
Leave Room to Explore
Looking through the guide book will definitely highlight a few great things to do, but don’t let it dictate everything. Once you have arrived in a city a lot of options for things to do will appear that you never even read about. What I am saying is any plan you may have concocted from your guide book needs to leave room for spontaneity and flexibility. Stay flexible and be sure to spend time just getting lost on the streets of the city.