So you managed to airport successfully!
I’m proud of you.
My favourite jumping off point once I’ve been released from Customs is checking into a hostel. Whether it’s a short trip, or one that spans months (or even years), a great place to start off is in a hostel. Hostels come in a variety of shapes, sizes colours and smells. And oh the smells! The hostel is the hub for people who a like-minded travelers looking mingle, explore and adventure with, along with a dab of drinking and bed sharing, which are also known by-products of the hostel experience. Even if you’re traveling in couple, don’t underestimate the community and (almost) instant friendship a hostel can give you by simply uttering the magic words “Hi, what’s your name?”. When this simple opener has you traveling the Mekong Delta, firing automatic weapons, playing drinking games over 50c beers, followed by some temple hopping, just send me a message and say thank you.
Jokes. Send money.
You can’t underestimate the power of shared experiences. Those who wash elephants together, stay together. No single sentence has been so true. OK, enough about washing and back to hostels.
As mentioned at the beginning, you are the master of airports and have made your way to a magical foreign land full of wonder and different looking coins. You’ve found yourself a cab/bus/scooter/horse and cart to escort you to your heavily researched accommodation (I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this). The 2-star rating assures you that the hostel includes in the price a mattress to sleep on, things can only get better. Depending on your budget and how deep a sleeper you are, you’ve either gone with a private room or dorm of up to 22 people (note: if you are traveling to Bangkok, please visit NapPark Hostel for the ultimate 22 person dorm room). Each style of accommodations in a hostel has it’s pros and cons. While the below list is not exhaustive, these are the general expectations and realities of each.
- your own space
- you can leave your bag unpacked
- your choice of sleeping companions
- ability to walk around nude (also an option in dorms, mostly frowned upon)
- only you snoring/farting/having sex
- more expensive
- can diminish the drive to get out and explore (eg. ability to nurse hangover in peace)
- nothing else really
- interaction with other guests
- cheaper than Private rooms
- proximity to drinking games and the party
- increased drive to get out and explore (try nurse a hangover with squeaky bunks and people rummaging through their backpacks, not happening)
- did I mention cheaper?
- sometimes too much shared space
- need to keep an eye on/lock up belongings
- other’s walking around nude (with you frowning)
- NOT only you snoring/farting/having sex
- closer to the party
- one (broken) fan to cool a room of 12
- other people taking liberties with your clothes and stockpiled canned goods
Whichever is your preference or favoured way of traveling, you can find it in either private or dorm rooms, just pack ear plugs and be prepared for wildly varied opinions of what constitutes personal space (and invasion thereof).
It’s just your luck, the 2-star rating also included a fan that works AND a locker. So far everything is coming up Milhouse.
You bunk is claimed, your possessions secured. I wonder if they sell beer at the front desk? Now is the moment where all your practice of your opening line comes to bear. You hit the common room/lobby/roof top, ready to unleash your 4 words that unlock the door to adventure. Depending on your personality type and comfort around strangers, this can be harder than it seems. It’s also another reason why hostels should sell beer at the front desk. Not so you can get sloppy and say your 4 words back to front through a haze of spit, but as a tried and true social lubricant that has been proven though the ages and weekend evenings.
Other than beer and potentially awkward introductions, signing up for the activities offered at a lot of hostels can be an amazing tool for both adventure and meeting roommates. What’s a better introduction than hauling in your female companion back into the boat after she was launched into the river while whitewater rafting? Make it a point to get involved in one group activity or another and you’ll find you have 10 new travel companions within the day, and be happy that your future bookings (through Booking.com) offer free cancellation, as your plans begin to change and grow organically.
Some of my fondest and funniest memories happened in dorm rooms. The fondness usually depends on what was happening, and to whom, for example;
Once upon a time, in a 12 bed dorm in Banff, Canada during the winter ski season. This dorm room was home to involved intoxicated midnight urination from a stranger in the top bunk that cascaded onto my friends’ bed below on more than one occasion. The complete body falls from bunks, shouted warnings
to other friends in the room of impending golden showers and general weirdness still gets me, I belly laugh at every recollection of these events.
Funny for us, certainly. My friend, maybe not so much.
So now that we know that there’s nothing more cohesive than shared experiences and ill advised shots of tequila at 11 am, where to next guys and girls? Like a snowball rolling down a mountain or a collapsing star, your sticky wet surface and light consuming gravitation continues to increase, along with your traveling band of misfits who come to enjoy the ride. Even when you separate to go your different ways, you can be sure paths will cross somewhere down the road on your trail of adventure. The world is as big as it is small sometimes.
That being said,
Happy first introductions everyone.
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