Someone recently told me I must have a lot of funny, weird, happy, and interesting hostel stories. After all I’ve been traveling for 54 months. Lots of crazy things have happened to me over that time period. Hostel life can be a crazy life. After thinking about the last four and half years, some of my favorite hostels stories include:
The time in New Zealand when an Israeli girl refused to shut off her bed light because she was afraid of the dark. She then proceeded to talk to her friend all night. One of the other roommates proceeded to unplug her light. After a short argument, which she lost, we were able to sleep in darkness and silence.
The time I was in a hostel in Prague and the whole hostel played the drinking card game of “Kings”. We never left the hostel that night because we had so much fun together. This was also my first night in Europe and made me realize I was going to love traveling.
Moreover, at the same hostel in Prague, everyone in my dorm could all hear two people trying to have sex. All of a sudden, the guy says, “I’m sorry this doesn’t happen often,” to which the girl replied, “It’s O.K. It’s no big deal.” Everyone in the dorm room heard that and burst out laughing. The guy left the next day.
In Amsterdam, my friends and I went on the roof of the hostel to take photos of the canals. We weren’t supposed to be there and everyone but me got kicked out. Why did I get special treatment? I had been there for three weeks already, the manager liked me, and I was leaving in two days.
In Valencia, a guy accused the hostel staff of stealing his wallet, got drunk, tried to fight the desk guy, and was summarily ejected from the hostel. I remember his girlfriend cried a lot. But it made for great pre-going out entrainment.
At a hostel in Boulder, Colorado, this guy kept talking in his sleep about the people trying to get him. He mumbled under his breath all day too. As the only person in the room with me, I was certain he was going to go nuts and stab me. It was the only time I was genuinely scared of a dorm mate.
In a hostel in Vietnam, I couldn’t figure out how the door opened and this German guy yelled at me for 10 minutes for waking him up. He proceeded to get back at me by turning the lights on at 6 a.m. and making a lot of noise the next two nights. I proceeded to get back at him by setting my alarm for 2 a.m. locking it in my locker, and going out drinking.
Speaking of Vietnam, when I got back from a bike trip early in Ho Chi Minh, the guesthouse manager wouldn’t give me my bags. I had left them with him while I went biking but I came back a few days earlier and there was no room available. I tried to get my bags and he said I had promised to stay there so I could come back tomorrow and get a room and my bags. Never mind I needed them that night. I had to steal my own bags and fight my way out.
At a hostel in Barcelona, two drunken Americans burst into our dorm, turned on the lights, looked at this Canadian guy and yelled, “Is that a dude in your bed!” It wasn’t. It was a girl. She left crying and the Americans and Canadian almost got in a fight. It was a shocking scene.
While at a hostel in Dublin, one of the guys in the room “relieved the tension” before he went to bed. He was not subtle about it at all.
In New Zealand, my friends and I got a Dutch girl drunk for the first time in her life. She threw up all over the common room and was forced to clean it up! We felt sorry for her and took her out to dinner.
While in a guesthouse in Ko Lipe, Thailand, I got bit by a centipede while sleeping. Centipede bites hurt… a lot. My foot was on fire for the rest of the night and I couldn’t sleep at all. It is still my most painful travel memory.
While on the island of Ko Phangan in Thailand, my friend came in at 4 am to kick me out because he had brought a girl back with him. Being a nice guy, I left to sleep outside and ended up getting eaten by mosquitoes. The next morning he told me, “Nothing happened. She left a few minutes later.” “Why didn’t you let me back in?” I asked. He shrugged and kept eating breakfast. I locked him out of the room the next night to get eaten by mosquitoes.
In Spain, I walked in on two other dorm mates “getting to know each other.” It was awkward. They looked at me but just kept going. I told them to come get me when they were finished so I could go to sleep.
While in Cambodia, I checked into one of the many backpacker hostels in Phnom Phen and was immediately asked if I wanted weed. I said no. Coke? No. Ecstasy? No, thank you. I just want to go shower. The guy walks out saying, “You are a loser.” [It’s common in Phnom Phen for backpackers to buy drugs. Drugs are everywhere.]
In Melbourne, I walked into a hostel dorm room and looked up to see a friend from Boston. I had no idea she would be there, proving once again that it is indeed a small world after all. Like old times, we started insulting each other (in the way friends do) and this English girl looks at us and says, “Wow! You two must really hate each other.” No, we’re friends just having a laugh! It was a good few days in Melbourne.
In a hostel in Surfer’s Paradise in Australia, this guy ran through the hostel naked on a dare. I’m still traumatized by the thought of it.
In a hostel in Portobelo, Panama, I awoke to an old guy snoring in the bed across from me. I love when seniors come to hostels because it’s great seeing them not give into the “hostels are only for young people” stereotype. Yet I don’t like waking up to one across from me letting it all hang out. Not only was he snoring but his legs were spread wide open and he was completely naked. It was a really unpleasant site. Worse than the naked guy running.
Looking back on the last few years, I have so many hostel memories that it if I wrote all them good ones down, I could fill a short book. And that’s what I love about hostels. You won’t always walk away with some crazy story but you will always walk away with a memory and having met interesting people. It’s why I’ll always stay in hostels when I travel. They are far more interesting places than hotels.
(Editor’s Note: These stories have accumulated over many years. In some of them, I am a young 20 something so my response might not have been the response I’d give today as a mature adult.)