The Characters You Are Highly Likely To Meet in Hostels

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.

The Chatterbox

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. 

The Dictator

hostelThey (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

hostelAmazingly, 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.

The Snorer

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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28 Replies to “The Characters You Are Highly Likely To Meet in Hostels”

  1. What a unique and interesting topic. I bet there is a consistency from one hostel to the next. The looks may change, but the behavior is still there. My favorite ones are the dictator (there is always one….everywhere). Possibly low self-esteem issues; the chatterbox, who can’t seem to stop talking; and, of course, guitar guy, who is alive and well everywhere, but he has to sleep somewhere, right? Have you seen these types more prevalent in different parts of the country…or world?

    1. Haha. I totally agree! No, I wouldn’t say certain types are more prevalent than others in different countries….they seem to be pretty uniform everywhere!

  2. Hello Luise
    Hostel sleeping while on vacation is one of those things I never tried, the thought of sleeping with strangers in the same room was never in my mind.
    I admire you for having the adventure spirit to do it, im sure it`s harder on ladies.
    Now you mention different kinds of people you meet in hostels and I was just wondering which I`ll be.I’m sure im the kind that will pack large suitcases as I like my travels to be convenient and for me to have the things im used to, my comfy flip flops, hair dryer,mirror, a good change of clothes, walking shoes and what not’s.Usually, need a full suitcase for a 2-week vacation.
    Now to the different hostel people, one of the reasons I never wanted a hostel was because of my snoring.Im one of those people that snore so loud you could hear it from another room.
    I have really enjoyed your post and it has made me understand more what kind of people you meet in hostels.I guess im now too old for hostel sleeping otherwise I could have given it a go,save money and meet different people.

    1. You’re never too old for a hostel really…..I know I talked about ‘The Older One’ but if you’re young at heart, that’s what counts!

  3. I don’t think I want to meet the smelly one!

    This is a really interesting read, and encompasses some of the idiosyncrasies of travelling on a budget. Hostels can certainly be some interesting places where you can meet very unusual people.

    I’ve met a few of the “money maker” types in my travels, and what you say is spot on.

  4. WOW!

    Hi Louise,

    I really really enjoyed that. Made me smile no end. I have traveled all over the UK and Ireland (I know how to spread my wings – right? lol) and do recall ONE such occasion!

    I was working i Scotland, forget the name, but there is an old ruins of a Castle made famous by Shake-spear! It was an honor to stand amongst its ruins and see a great vista of Scotland! Ahh, my youth. Anyways.

    I shared a room with this smelly, fat guy who was – WITHOUT COMPETITION – the laziest incompetent site worker I ever worked with! He actually nearly killed me once, no joke either, because he was that hung over!

    So I am sharing this room and his cloths are just littered every where, barring, a tiny perimeter of cleanliness around my single bed!

    There was one shelf of food (mine) in the fridge.
    But there was no light in it, because, all his Bud cans blocked it out.

    First pay check, one longest month of my life later, I moved into a single room where the constant smell of his odor could not haunt me no further, where I stayed for six months and went back down to London and sought professional ‘pysch’ help for the trauma!!!!!

    I’d say you’d make me laugh for Ireland with the stories you have Louise!

    Great post, thoroughly enjoyed it!



    P.S. I subscribed to your mailing list because I need to read more of your stories!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Philip-I made myself laugh writing it! I laughed out loud at your story too-hilarious! And definitely a memory you will never forget! Louise

  5. Loved this post!! You are spot on with each of these people!! I keep thinking to people I’ve met in hostels and could align each of these to someone I’ve met! Such a good idea for a post

    1. Thanks Mel! I have to say, I was laughing out loud as I was writing it, remembering all the various characters….

  6. Haha funny. This is why I have not stayed in a hostel and probably never will, but it does make for some funny stories I can imagine.

  7. Omg, you NAILED it. My husband and I have spent the past year hopping around hostels (we’re a particularly terrible combination of the giggling couple and the ones glued to their bed, I think) and we’ve definitely met each and every one of these. You forgot the Party Animal: comes in a 2am and turns on all the lights, may end up climbing into bed with you on accident, wakes up hungover at 12pm and still invites you to go out later the next evening.

    My fave incident was with a Dictator. He wanted the lights off at 7PM in our 10 person dorm room. 7 PM!!!! It was because, as he so graciously explained (we didn’t ask), he had JUST come off of a 2-week long ~silent yoga retreat~ and his ~circadian rhythm~ was completely reset. That asshole was up at 4am like a fucking douche putting on his damn yoga gear while the rest of us (including the poor Long Termers, who had JUST finished their hostel shifts) attempted to sleep. I’ve never hated a dorm-mate so much.

    …Actually that’s not true. There was another Glued to Their Bed guy in a 4-person dorm with my husband and I on New Years. We thought for sure we’d be the only losers lame enough to stay inside and sit in bed on New Years Eve, but no. This guy was just as lame as us. So while we tried to relax in bed, he was relaxing in bed right next to us, like an uncomfortable third wheel who never spoke a word to us. The kicker? He was ALSO The Smelly One. He smelled like an old moldy boot and he smoked too. So for 4 days, every time we were in the room, he was in the room. The worst part? All we wanted to do was relax and watch Netflix (because, 6 months in, we were REALLY lame and REALLY tired, don’t judge us) and this motherfucker was just watching videos on his phone 24/7. That’s all he ever did. SO OUR INTERNET DIDN’T WORK. And then every 20 minutes he’d get a call from someone and just repeat the word “baba” over and over again. I hated him even more than 7pm bedtime yoga douche.

    Tl;dr I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m officially over hostels 😛

    1. Haha, brilliant, made me laugh out loud! I can totally feel your pain, especially with the one hanging around and smelling like a mouldy boot, hahahaha! Yes, the party animal, of course! The one you only ever see asleep when you wake up in the morning – no matter what time you go to bed, they are not in the dorm and then they are miraculously there in the morning…..

  8. Omg the potato peeler guy sounds hilarious!! Also, I can’t imagine why anyone would stay in their bed and not explore the area around them! I definitely wouldn’t feel bad for having fun

  9. Haha, this made me laugh so much. I don’t really do hostels that much anymore, but you’re missing the bragger. I have met people who BRAG so much about a topic of their choice whether it’s travels (as if nobody else has gone to the places they’ve been to), girls/boys they’ve met while traveling, or how much they can drink. I mean, good for them, but honestly I’m over hostels 1000%

  10. So a confession, I’ve never stayed in a hostel! I think it’s great you get to meet so many different people, but I’m not sure if this post is encouraging me to experience it for myself or avoid it altogether haha 🙂

    1. Haha, hostels are an absolutely great way to meet people – and the majority of people I’ve met have been fantastic! But you do always get these types of characters too – all makes a good story 😉

  11. I love this thread! Some brilliant characters come to mind. I am compelled to throw in my memories of two particular characters. I shall call it: “The case of Mono-Brow and the Naked-H encounter”

    I was with a group of friends in Dublin for new year and staying in a mixed gender room in a central hostel. On arrival we dropped off our bags and spotted a boy in reception with a distinct mono brow. We joked that we would probably be sharing a room and speculated on his story. Later on we got access to our room and noticed a very neat bunk with male shoes underneath. Well that confirmed it to us that it was, indeed Mono-Brow. The size of the room meant this hapless individual was now stuck on his own with 5 girls.

    While our absent room mate was nice and neat, we really weren’t. We weren’t horribly so, just a lot of stuff, hanging up outfits and towels and a scattering of shoes. We felt really bad when at night and in the mornings ‘Mono’ dressed and undressed inside his bed. The poor boy!

    It turned out this boy was french and not the mono browed person we had seen the previous day, but it was too late and the nickname stuck. His modest routine continued, but alas my friend H was not so discreet. The first incident was when H thought it was safe to drop her towel and dress quickly, not expecting poor Mono to turn up while she was still rifling for her pants and bra. To save embarrassment on both sides she put her towel over her head! Mono did not hang around.

    You would have thought lessons had been learned here. But no. The rest of us showered and dressed in the women’s washroom, H felt that her tiny, economical travel sized towel would suffice a dash back from the shower. Unfortunately we only had two keys between us and when H got back to the room we had all gone. It was poor Mono who returned to the room first and had to let her in. H told us later that she had to hang around waiting for him to pack up his bag before she could get dried off and dressed… Despite him having seen it all already!

    I really hope Mono took that back as a particular story from his travels to Ireland.

    Incidentally, we had to move hostels on New year’s Eve due to a mix up with our booking and ended up in a room with five Welsh girls and a suspiciously neat empty bunk with male shoes… No it wasn’t our Mono, but an equally modest lone boy who undressed in his bed. He only had to suffer a room full of hair spray, perfume and body-glitter all over the carpet and a silly group of girls getting ready for a night out.

    I could not recommend hostelling enough, the people are brilliant and turn a normal trip into a something friends really want to hear about. Do it! (But maybe just for a weekend… And take ear plugs… A a decent sized towel X)

  12. I’ve tried staying in a hostel once and because of one of these characters I swore to never go back again. But now, as I read this blog post, the interaction in a hostel seems kind of interesting and funny. I might give it a second shot some day 😉

    1. You definitely should Mina, it’s such a great way to meet people (and will give you loads of stories) – I can’t recommend it enough!

  13. I would be the older guy with the guitar, but I went to Italy last winter and stayed in 4* hotels with breakfast for $35/nt total (single rate). That was Florence and Rome in January, so I stayed a month.

  14. Hey there

    I love this! It’s great!
    Before I had kids we did the back packer thing for a while! Best times ever!
    The amount of people we would meet was awesome! All from different countries and completely different walk of life!
    I loved hearing stories and adventures from these people! I would be absolutely amazed at how people could go around the world with nothing but a back pack!
    Great read
    Regards Hailey

  15. What an entertaining read! I was really amused by The One Who Brought a Suitcase because my husband always brings a suitcase! with good reason though – he’s usually packing so much diving gear, it wouldn’t fit into a backpack! I guess there’s a reason why we don’t usually stay in hostels when we travel together. I like to travel light, so I wouldn’t fit into that category (I hope!), although I haven’t stayed in that many hostels actually.

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