Last Updated on 23/12/2020
It’s well known that the hostel is a melting pot of characters (more on that here). Here, travellers from all walks of life and across the globe rub shoulders, hang out together, eat together and even sleep together (share a dorm I mean, but that too). Why? Hostels are, for the most part, cheap. They make travel more affordable and more sociable which makes them the perfect haunt for budget backpackers.
If you’ve been backpacking for a while, you’ll soon start to see a pattern, and it’s not the less than satisfactory WiFi connection. I’m talking, of course, about the hostel dwellers; the guests. No matter where you go in the world, you’re guaranteed to come across these familiar set of characters in any hostel you stay at:
The Party People
Photo credit: LOGAN WEAVER
Living for the sesh, you can usually find this crew at the bar or in the liqueur aisle of the supermarket planning a night of drunken antics. They’re the first to sniff out the local nightlife at any destination they stay at and will gravitate to a dance floor like moths to a lamp. Somehow fuelled with boundless energy, you can count on them to always be up early for activities and stay loyal to the booze at night.
The Domestic Scrimp and Savers
These people save money wherever they can. You won’t catch them parting with a single penny if they can find a way to do it for free. A telltale sign of a domestic scrimp and saver is the row of drying laundry hanging from their bunk bed as a defiant stance against the washing machine fee imposed by the hostel. Their best friend is a bar of soap or a tube of hand washing detergent in their backpack. They ration their meals and never eat out. They’ll grimly share a 20-bed mixed dorm if it means sparing a few precious coins for the trouble.
The Early to Bed Early to Rise Brigade
Photo credit: Dane Deaner
These people have a strict routine and you don’t want to get in their way. They’re the ones who are tucked up in bed asleep by 10pm and spring up out the door by 8am the next day with an itinerary longer than your arm. Time your hostel arrival wrong and you’ll spend the night getting ready for bed in the dark and wincing at every rustle your bag makes. You can forget the lie in when they’re about as you can be sure they’ll return the favour with a morning symphony of rustling to call the crack of dawn.
The Office Job
They can usually be found in the common room or stationed next to the nearest available plug socket hunched over a laptop, tablet or MacBook. They will sit there for hours, perhaps even days, engrossed in the screen in front of them. These digital nomads are tough and they won’t give up the prime charging spot without a fight. They usually keep to themselves but have been known to lend half their attention to the communal TV at times.
The Culinary Witches and Wizards
Photo credit: Jeff Siepman
Dinnertime in communal kitchens is pretty similar wherever you are. There will always be that person cooking pasta or someone opening a cheap tin of soup by the microwave. But amongst all the average meals there will always be one traveller who never fails to whip up the most amazing meals with only a handful of ingredients at their disposal.
The rest of us can only look on enviously as they command the kitchen with nonchalant ease. It’s the best kind of day when they offer to cook us a meal with our gladly pitched in funds.
The Definitely Undernourished
In contrast to the hostel chef, there is always that one traveller whose nutritional intake is next to nothing. A character born of that same university student ilk, their diet seems to consist of all things beige. If your hostel is fancy enough to supply an oven then the mealtime menu is guaranteed to be chicken nuggets, otherwise, it’ll be crisps, pot noodles, or cheesy pasta. Against all odds, they’re alive and well and seem blissfully content with their lifestyle.
The One with All the Stories
Photo credit: Alexander Milo
No matter what you do and where you go, you will always come across that one person in the hostel who has done something better and will happily tell you about it. If you’ve recently climbed a mountain and watched a sunset then chances are they’ve climbed a bigger and better mountain and seen three more sunsets in the most remote and coolest place you can think of.
You just can’t win with these people, and your only hope is to concentrate on your own travels as something to be proud of even if you didn’t spend four months in a shack somewhere in an isolated part of Peru.
The Professional Travellers
These people know how the travelling game works without showing off about it. If you share a dorm with them you’ll notice how expertly they negotiate their rucksacks. Months on the road have made them well accustomed to packing with speed and precision. Every item is practical and has a place. Their most impressive superpower is their ability to fall asleep anywhere and anytime. You won’t catch them dawdling about when there’s a whole host of treks to do and sights to see.
Photo credit: Senjuti Kundu
No hostel is complete without the certified Messy Person. They aren’t hard to spot as they tend to leave a pile of debris in their wake wherever they go in the hostel. They tend to be chaotic travellers who somehow manage to get there in the end. The arrival of a messy traveller is marked by what looks like an explosion in the dorm as the contents of their bag decorate most corners of the room. It’s nothing short of miraculous when messy travellers check out and leave *almost* none of their belongings behind.
The Clean Gang
As with most characters in a hostel, there are always opposites to create a tentative equilibrium. And so the yin to the messy yang are the clean gang. They have a remarkable talent for never getting dirty. They could wear a white trainer in a monsoon and still return unscathed. In fact, their whole wardrobe is always annoyingly fresh and unwrinkled. You can spot the cleanest traveller by their bed: always made and never a personal item in sight. It’s almost as if they were never there…
Are you any of these hostel characters or have you encountered any of them during your travels? Have I even missed any? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Need some more persuading about the hostel lifestyle? This article here by Forbes should convince you!