I have met many an interesting character on my travels, particularly in hostels…..I swear some of them have been planted there just to give you a good story to tell when you get back home! Anyway, over the years I have come across all sorts – mostly absolutely lovely people who I have kept in touch with – but also a lot that seem to fall into certain categories….
The One with the Guitar
Can be confused with The Deep One (see below) and to be fair they often are one and the same. Why is there always a guy with a guitar? And it usually is a guy, not a girl. Amazingly, I have never seen two in the same hostel either, it’s almost if they have some kind of an agreement with each other through their secret tuning frequency communication method. They often look more like the seasoned traveler than others with the elephant pants, beads and hippy/eco-warrior vibe. Because they have managed to carry a guitar across the miles (which is a lot of effort considering they can usually play only two tunes, perhaps three at a push), they usually have very little else with them and are the most likely of all to get the younger girls’ attention.
This is the one that traps you if you’re not careful. Has a tendency to clash with The One Glued to Their Bed. They are desperate to chat to you and have an awful lot to say, some of it interesting, most of it not so. With a tendency to not realise when it’s polite to stop chatting and let you go about your business, you have to just walk away. A girl I met in a hostel in Adelaide was acting as if she’d been in solitary confinement for weeks – she was lovely but I was already late to meet friends downstairs and she was just going on and on, mostly telling me about all her paranormal experiences….I tried to be polite for as long as possible but in the end had to actually walk out the door as she was still speaking. I felt bad but got the impression I would still be chatting 3 hours later if I hadn’t.
They (sometimes without meaning to) dictate when you should go to bed and often when you should all get up as well. This is the person that insists on lights out at 8pm and then gets up at dawn and crashes about whilst changing into their running/yoga gear. Nothing wrong with that in itself but they often have that smug, “I’ve beaten the day” feeling and a slight hatred for the rest of you. They have a lot in common with The Long Termer and it wouldn’t surprise me if they make secret plots together.
The Smelly One
I hate to say it but this one is always a boy. It’s difficult not to have smelly clothes when travelling but there are ways with dealing with it. Keeping absolutely stinking hiking boots in the middle of the dorm floor in 35 degree heat in Cairns is NOT nice. They could easily be kept just outside the door – no one is going to steal them smelling like that. Not really a foe of anyone but not really a friend either….
The Older One
Always travelling alone and usually the only one of their age (in their 60’s or 70’s), they often have an interesting life story and are likely to be the most fascinating person in the hostel. If the hostel provides a free breakfast, you can guarantee they will be there, and this is a good time to chat to them. They usually have a bit more money than everyone else so even though they are staying in a hostel, you tend to find they are doing some sort of slightly more expensive activity, such as driving an old classic car across Argentina like one guy I met in Buenos Aires. I met a woman in a hostel in Rio de Janeiro who had been married 4 times to various wealthy men and was now using all their money to travel the world and find peace. Why not?? They know the value of their uniqueness so are never concerned with any of the other character types stealing their thunder.
The Money Maker
Constantly looking for ways to make a bit of extra cash, whether this is odd jobs around the hostel or some other scheme, they may appear to be your friend but their ultimate goal is to try and sell you something or nab your ideas. They do their best to avoid turning into The Long Termer. I met an Irish guy in Adelaide who had three huge boxes of potato peelers (definitely an irony in there somewhere), and was sorting them into packs of three (one blue, one red and one black). He was adamant that hostels and hotels were in desperate need and he would sell them on and make a tidy profit. I would love to know how he got on with that…
The Sleep Talker
Amazingly, I have only ever come across one sleep talker (that was loud enough to wake me up anyway). It was in Queenstown – she was American but (very strangely) slept-talk in German. It was very very loud and shouty, and really scared the rest of us! Of course she had no idea she’d done it and we didn’t want to say anything, but falling asleep knowing I’d have a rude awakening to the not so dulcet tones of shouty German was not the best. Their greatest rival is The Snorer – but sadly, there is definitely room for both.
The Long Termer
Usually the grumpiest sort and understandably so. They have to get up to go to work and have to keep some sort of a routine with their hours of sleep and all they get is a constant flow of newcomers into their bedroom who are full of energy. Because they have been in the dorm the longest, they have often commandeered a large portion of it and they usually rule the AC/lights/windows etc. Often jealous of The Money Maker who seems to get cash in a more fun, haphazard way.
The Giggling Couple
Oh so in love and mostly found wrapped around each other on their bed or the sofa giggling and watching something on their laptop. Even though they are frowned upon by most other character types, it’s really only because they’re secretly jealous…particularly The Chatterbox and The Deep One.
The One Who Brought a Suitcase
This could be literally or not. Most likely to be new to travelling and have not practised the art of packing light. I came across a guy in New Zealand who had not just one (and fairly large) suitcase but two! He was only about 5 foot tall and would drag these two suitcases everywhere…..I do wonder what he had in them. Suitcases are not your friend on rough ground either. The variation on this is the person who brings enough to fill a big suitcase, ie. a huge backpack full of all sorts of things, a third of which they probably will never use. Either of these types also tends to take up more than their fair share of the dorm floor, thus potentially angering The Long Termer and The Dictator when he can’t find his jogging gear in the morning. Friend of The One Glued to Their Bed though as it gives them even more of an excuse to not get up.
The Deep One
Easily confused with The One with the Guitar – and actually, they have a lot in common. Also highly likely to be male, if The Deep One doesn’t have a guitar, then The One with the Guitar is their greatest threat. If they do have a guitar then that’s a certain bromance with The One with the Guitar. Except for the fact that there are never two with guitars, so all these potential bromances never get the chance to blossom. They can easily be spotted by their pained facial expressions, their extremely slow, laboured way of speaking and their tendency to end every sentence with “Man”. They are so chilled out they are almost horizontal.
Their greatest rival is The Sleep Talker and is hard to say which outdoes the other. It really does depend on the individual. I haven’t come across too many loud snorers luckily but when you do, you certainly know about it. Sometimes even with headphones on or earplugs in, it still doesn’t drown out the sound….
The One Glued to Their Bed
Usually the quietest, shyest type and therefore terrified of The Chatterbox. Whatever time you come back to the room, they are ALWAYS in there. Always either asleep, skyping somebody or watching a film/listening to music. They never seem to join in with anything and make you feel guilty for leaving the room/having fun/enjoying life. All without saying a word.
Any character types you’d like to add to the list? I’d love to hear about the memorable people you may have come across on your travels….
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