Travel Journal: Hostel Stories

Staying in a hostel is almost a right of passage for a traveler. The inexpensive accommodations are still a mystery to most, especially Americans. But some of my most favorite memories are from my stays in hostels. And until now, I’ve only shared these hostel stories with my friends and family. So enjoy!

Sharing accommodations with total strangers from different parts of the world can make for some interesting stories. Here are a few of my favorites.

“Can I borrow your nail clippers?”

Laurie and I found ourselves in Belgium. An impromptu stop after finding a cheap flight from Dublin. So instead of meeting our friend in Amsterdam, we decided to spend a night in Brussels and explore the city.

We didn’t do too much exploring the first day. After some strong Belgium beer and scouring the city for something to eat during their midday break, we returned to our hostel exhausted.

Everyone agreed to take a nap. I decided to start watching a movie and skipped the nap. Luckily, we had a huge 4 bed room to ourselves. That is until, a quirky young man from New Zealand joined us.

I didn’t want to be rude, so I paused my movie and started to chat with him. Laurie had woken up at this time and joined in on the conversation and this is when it happened.

He asked if either of us had a toenail clipper. I immediately began to tell him no, because let’s be honest that’s not something I want to share with a total stranger. But Laurie was quicker and blurted out “Yea. He does.” and asks me to get it for him.

I gave her a side-eyed look and did the whole “Oh yea, I think I have one”, knowing damn well that I do. So I got the toenail clipper from my toiletry bag and handed it to him.

I joined Laurie back on the bed as we watched him take off his shoes, clip his toenails and put the clippings on top of the small table where he sat. I’m pretty sure some flew passed him.

As I look on, kind of squeamishly, I can’t help but laugh a little looking at the ridiculousness of the situation.

As he swipes the nail clippings into a garbage can and goes to rinse the clipper off, I look at Laurie and tell her “Don’t do that ever again”.

A dusting in Prague

Still new to the hostel scene at this point in our backpacking trip, we decided to stay in a smaller room with 4 beds, thinking we might get lucky have the room to ourselves. Luckily, the room was still empty when we arrived so we decided to grab the two beds next to each other instead of the bunk beds.

As we got settled, two new guests arrived. A sweet couple who were traveling for a few months, same as us.

On the second night, as Laurie and I returned from dinner and a day of exploring, the other couple was in the room and we were chatting it up. We shared stories of where we had gone, what we saw, etc. Normal travel talk.

I couldn’t help but notice that the young man on the top bunk was picking at his feet. It seemed as if he was scraping the dead skin from his foot with his hands, collecting a nice little pile of skin flakes on his bed.

Maybe it was karma for lending out my toenail clipper or perhaps just bad timing. As the young man is swiping the dead skin of his foot from his bed, here comes Laurie coming out of the bathroom walking right into the dust cloud of skin.

It took everything I had not to burst out laughing, as she squinted her eyes and coughed a bit. Luckily they checked out the next day and we enjoyed the room to ourselves sans foot skin.

Oasis from the chaos…supposedly

On our last few days in Bangkok we met a young couple from the United States whom we became friendly with. They had just arrived from New Delhi (our next stop) so we exchanged tips and even currency to help each other out.

One tip they gave us was on a place to stay. Our friends described it as an “oasis from the chaos” of the city. We were so excited we booked our stay immediately, no questions. We welcomed tips from travelers and figured they knew what they were talking about.

What we didn’t account for was their age, budget and willingness to overlook some things when it came to accommodations if the price was right.

When we arrived in New Delhi, we could instantly feel the “chaos”. The traffic, the crowds of people, vendors trying to sell you things, people begging for money; it was intense. We were looking forward to this oasis so we could settle down and relax.

When we arrived to the location of the hostel we thought the taxi driver was lost, we didn’t want to get out of the car. Nothing resembled anything close to what our friend had described. Dusty, cratered streets. Scooters zipping by. Crowds of people and no other backpackers in sight.

It wasn’t until some friendly people, who noticed our giant backpacks, pointed us towards the hostel and we saw the sign, “Joey’s Hostel”. Whew. We made it.

As we walked through the doorway I thought we could be on a movie set of a war film. As we ascended the stairs the light from the streets dimmed and the hallway grew darker. Glimpses of light would reveal rubble and massive holes in the walls.

I thought about returning back to the street until we heard someone coming downstairs. Definitely a backpacker, he assured us that the hostel was just up the stairs.

I definitely didn’t expect to see what I did when we opened the door. People playing video games, someone drinking tea and eating cereal, music playing in the background. It was surreal.

We were greeted by someone at the desk, given the WiFi password and shown to our rooms. Overall, Joey’s wouldn’t win any awards compared to the hostels we stayed in in Europe and South America. However, it was a nice little HUB for our adventures in New Delhi and the staff was top notch.

Oasis? Probably not the word I’d use for it but it was a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of New Delhi.

I’m too old for this shit!

As we backpacked around Europe, we found ourselves in some pretty nice hostels, places I could compare to some hotels in the United States. We made sure to read reviews on Hostelworld and for the most part they were spot on.

And we should’ve listened to the reviews for this self-claimed “Party Hostel” in Barcelona. But how bad could it be. We’re young-ish. We like to party. Plus, booking a hostel last minute on a weekend in Barcelona is almost impossible.

Things I noticed when we arrived; bar, pool tables and TVs. Plus the location was top notch, right in the middle of La Rambla. I like. But then the receptionist tells us we should’ve stayed at the other hostel because this one sucks. Nice welcoming. I don’t like.

Sleep was okay…bunkmates were messy and came in late at night. I can deal with that. What I couldn’t deal with was the next morning. Dirty showers. Toilets with vomit on them. Men going into women’s bathroom. It felt like a frat house.

Gladly we only spent one night there because damnit, I’m too old for this shit!

Not all bad

Hostels aren’t for everyone. You must go with a curious, adventurous spirit and an open mind. I’ve met some great people at hostels, people whom I still keep in touch with and call friends.

I’ve had some great experiences at hostels; parties, tours, dinners, etc. Hostels are great places to meet open minded people. Share stories and ideas. Learn about other cultures. Get drunk.

So while you’re bound to come across some uncomfortable situations while hostel hopping, you’ll also make some unforgettable memories.

Have you stayed in a hostel? Why or why not? Let me know your craziest experience in the comments below!

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