When travelling for a longer period of time you observe similar behavioral patterns in your temporary roommates. You meet Gonzalo from Spain in one town for example, go out with him for a few nights and when you move on to the next town, unpack your backpack in the new hostel and introduce yourself to the next person, you frown for a second because that person strongly reminds you of Gonzalo from Spain. The same applies to Elsa from Germany who gave you some pretty essential tips on planning the next week and is scarily similar to Maria from the Netherlands.
To get a brief overview of what you will be dealing with on a trip consisting of many different hostels and even more different people, here is a list of the five types of people you can’t possibly avoid.
- The Party Animal
These people usually have just finished high school or just need a break from something in their lives back home. Be it Germans in Australia or Australians in Indonesia for schoolies – these people tend to populate the bigger cities, preferably in Asian countries since alcohol and nights out in general are ridiculously cheap compared to their home countries. They are good fun to spend one or two nights out with and are certainly people persons, however, their rhythm is not necessarily the most suitable for your travel plans if you are actually planning on seeing something of the country you are visiting. Yet, if you are a little tired of travelling and just feel like having fun for a while – then stick with these people: they surely know where the hottest party of the night will kick off and where to buy reasonable drinks. They can be identified by a six pack of cheap beer hidden underneath their bed and the noise they make when stumbling back into the dorm at 4 am, thinking they are being incredibly silent. They can be found in bed most of the day or tucked onto the couch sipping an early afternoon beer in the common area watching TV or chatting to people.
- The Organizer
This person usually does not have as much time on the road as others and thus wants to get the most out of it. That is why these people usually have a detailed travel itinerary and a certain schedule to stick to and can easily provide you with useful information on what to do in the city or region. Although it is hard to get these people to be spontaneous and do something that is not on their travel plan, they are more than happy to help you out with anything you want to know. They can be identified by a thick travel guide (either Lonely Planet or Rough Guide with at least 700 pages) and can be found either in the common area hunkering over a map or out exploring. They do stuff – a lot actually and are good fun to hang out with. It will be hard to see them after 11pm though, unless partying is part of the plan for the night – then you might have a chance of enticing them away from the sheltered space called hostel and take them out.
- The Hippie
The name already says it all. These people are very relaxed, laid back and definitely look at life from the bright side. They don’t stress around and are pretty much open to anything. If you feel like company for the day just ask them whether they want to join you. At night some might take out their guitars and some of the good stuff, play some old Bob Marley songs and philosophize on life, death and the pursuit of happiness – or just where to buy cheap drinks. But: they are amazing company and usually have the craziest stories to tell. Some have been dumpster diving their way through Europe, lived with a tribe in a remote jungle for months pumped up with all sorts of hallucinogens or spent some time in a Buddhist monastery completely soundless. Cliché dreadlocks, comfortable oversize clothes and all sorts of body piercings reveal their personality, as well as their incredible stories. They usually have traveled more countries than all the people in the dorm together, but do not make a big fuss out of it. They can found everywhere pretty much everywhere since they don’t like to tie themselves down to one specific location.
- The Older Person
Most of the time the average age in a dorm lies somewhere between 20 and 30. However, sometimes there is one person far older than everyone else in the room. This person usually has the most amazing life story to tell so it’s definitely worth starting a conversation. Most of them are either unemployed academics, spiritually motivated newborns or people having a mid-life crisis. They are more than happy to talk about anything while nursing a glass of wine, however they prefer the dorm to be quiet after 11pm and they don’t hesitate a second to tell you that in the most polite and friendliest way. They can be obviously identified with their elderly appearance and you can be sure there is a certain glow of wisdom surrounding them – I swear! They can be found reading in their bed or in the common area. But mostly reading, yes.
- The Couple
These two people can be good fun, but not when they are having sex in the dorm. When you are there. When everyone is there. Please, guys, no sex in dorms! I am not sure what it is, but couples who have been on the road for long together tend to become prudency resistant over time. Be it bright day or in the middle of the night, one single bunk bed seems to provide enough privacy. But don’t get me wrong. Not all couples are like that. Many couples are fantastic to talk to and amazing to watch. Two people that spend 24/7 together develop interesting behavioral patterns to survive each other. That’s at least my theory. They are good to stick to when you are broke and hungry since they usually cook a little bit too much and their “sense of family” makes them happy to offer food to your poor soul. They can be identified by, you know, couple things. They can be found together, all the time.
Last but not least there is you: usually a mix of all the previously mentioned characters. Wherever you are on you trip you adapt a little the people that surround you – whether you like it or not. When meeting the party animal you go out partying and actually find yourself enjoying it. When running into the organizer you instantly want to make more out of your trip and ask for crucial information on the country and its people. When the hippie is the person you share the room with you ultimately doubt your entire lifestyle and want to be more alternative with your life philosophy. When the couple sleeps next to you, you admire how they treat each other (and maybe find yourself thinking about paying for a private room so you are finally able to sleep) and when you talk to the older person you tell yourself to be like him or her when you reach that age.
And at the end of the day when you run through all the photos and memories back home you realize that it is the people you meet that make a trip unique and special.