Hostels can be many things — homes away from home, budget-saving citadels of the shoestring traveler, institutions of questionable sanitation — but their most important function is as gathering places for the parade of characters who take it upon themselves to see the world. Though the beauty of meeting people in hostels is in the inherently diverse selection of humankind they attract, there are certain people you will inevitably come across in one hostel or another. Here are 10 examples of these pattern-proven travelers:
1. The ‘Better’ Traveler
No matter how good you think you’ve gotten at traveling, you will ALWAYS find someone who’s on the next level. You’re using discount airlines? He’s Interrailing. You’re Interrailing? She’s hitchhiking. You’re hitchhiking? He’s cycling. You’re cycling? They’re walking across the continent with a horse to carry their bags like a couple of medieval freaking knights.
2. The ‘Worse’ Traveler
Even if you’re new at hostelling, you’ll find one somewhere. This is the guy who took full-price airlines because he’s never heard of RyanAir and is loudly rolling a suitcase in which your beefy ex-boyfriend could have stowed away along the cobblestones of Florence. He probably took a taxi from the airport, and it probably ripped him off, and he may or may not consistently mispronounce the name of the city you’re in. No one knows how he found this hostel, but booking it was a big step for him as he inches into the unknown territory of “traveler” over “tourist.”
3. The Aussies
Australia has a population of only 23 million people, but it’s a common belief among the traveler community that only half of that population is ever actually ON the Australian continent at any given time. Aussies are everywhere. Everywhere, I say!! You can choose or refuse to stereotype how they will behave abroad (I mean HEY, alcohol is crazy expensive in Australia; you can’t blame them for being overly excited about its relative economy virtually everywhere else in the world…), but the fact is: you will find Aussies. Or they will find you.
4. The Instagram Model
She has two hundred times more hashtags in her vocabulary than useful phrases in the local language, and even if she’s been traveling long-term, she rolls into the hostel with a full face of make up. Her white dress magically repels the dirt and grime of even the streets of Manila, and her floppy hat—which would make you look like a wannabe Indiana Jones cowboy—sits in a perfectly fashionable BoHo manner on her Argan-oiled hair. She also has those little attachment lenses that go on her iPhone or one of those Wi-Fi SD cards that send her DSLR photos to her phone (totes cheating), and takes her selfie stick very seriously.
5. The Study Abroad Students
AKA “The International Party Squad.” They’re only going to be in town for the weekend because they have to get back to their “studies” in their host city. Between their mad dashes to every Lonely Planet attraction and their all-night raging at the top-rated club, you’ll barely see them. But when you do, they’ll be sure to tell you how profoundly their lives are being changed by the experience.
6. The One Who Never Grew Out of It
You can’t decide if he’s inspiring or depressing. On the one hand, he’s been everywhere, has the craziest stories, and has somehow figured out how to continue wandering for the past 30 years. He’s the same age as your parents, but infinitely cooler. …But at the same time, you can’t help but sense a sad emptiness to his life, and you silently panic that your life choices are leading you in the same direction.
7. The Entrepreneur
Also goes by the title “Digital Nomad” or “Lifestyle Designer.” She carries around a copy of “The 4-Hour Workweek” and preaches its gospel to whoever will listen. She can concoct an app, venture, or investment around anything you mention enjoying, though no one’s entirely sure what exactly it is that she does. Maybe if you scan the QR on that business card she gave you, you’ll achieve enlightenment.
8. The Heartthrob
A smile to melt the sun. The body of a Hemsworth brother. And charm to make every Disney Prince envious. He’s adventurous, intelligent, and has some obscure hobby that makes him endlessly fascinating. He also probably works with orphans. You have an instant connection with him. As does every other heterosexual female in the hostel. He’s inexplicably single, and even the most commitment-phobic traveler types are eager to volunteer as tribute to remedy that.
9. The Activists
Animals were tortured to test your make up products. Your organic beef is still destroying the planet because of how much water it took to grow grass to feed the now-eaten cow. Children suffered in sweatshops while stitching your clothes, and your favorite movie does not have a diverse enough cast. You know all these things now thanks to The Activists. While at first they can be unsettling, and they’ve probably started at least one majorly uncomfortable argument in the hostel’s would-be-chill TV area, they have the best intentions, and you’re glad to have met them. There are problems in the world, and there are ways that you can help combat those problems; you shouldn’t be out there exploring if you can’t handle those truths.
10. The Adventure Couple
They sweep in being perfectly adorable and mutually supportive of one another’s crazy whims and intensify your confusion over your feelings for the Heartthrob. Maybe it would be nice to have someone to take photos of important moments, to split cabs and meals with, to wake up with each morning in a new city… On the other hand, they never seem to fully click with the hostel “family,” and you’re still not convinced that anyone is worth sacrificing your free-spirited travel independence. Still, you’re happy to see people making it work and add it to your list of life possibilities.