When it comes to hostels, I’ve got a bit of experience. I’ve stayed in dozens of them, and for more than 700 nights altogether. On the internet, that basically makes me an expert.
Of course, hostels vary wildly — big and little, charming and soulless, clean and, uh, not so much — but staying long-term in any kind of shared accommodation will certainly change you and your life. Just look at me: if it weren’t for hostels, I probably wouldn’t have met Simon, or be living in the Netherlands right now.
But it’s not only about the big dramatic differences, like changing your country of residence or broadening your life perspective. Sometimes, it’s also fun to talk about the little things — the ones that go forgotten or unrecognized until someone else points them out.
In that spirit, here are five often overlooked, but no less true, consequences of living in a hostel. Can you relate to any of these?
Turns out that line about carrots improving your eyesight is total bullshit. Luckily, there are other ways! A few weeks in a hostel are better for your eyes than a lifetime of root vegetables could ever be.
Whether you’re catching a 6am flight, waking up for a sunrise hike, or coming home at dawn from a night of dancing, there’s a solid chance that, at some point, you’ll be awake when the rest of your roommates are not — and in situations like these, turning on the overhead lights is what backpackers (and most humans) call a “dick move.”
Even at 2pm, the party animals might still be sleeping last night off; and by the time they finally crawl out of bed and wipe three days’ of mascara from their eyes, the early risers might be ready to hit the hay.
Long story short, when you live in a hostel, you start developing your other four senses. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to take out your contacts, address your Christmas cards, touch up your pedicure, and apply winged eyeliner in the dark — though, not necessarily any better than you can in broad daylight.
Disclaimer: I am *not* saying no one will steal your laptop or your passport at a hostel. That could very well happen, and you should be vigilant about your belongings.
But it’s far more likely that someone will nick a slice of your bread than take something worth any real money. Hostel dwellers can typically afford to buy their own iPhone, but they can rarely be bothered to go to the supermarket.
Maybe you have to use watered-down dish soap and your fingers in lieu of a sponge, but at least you don’t leave your plate lying around with crusty spaghetti adhered to it for days like you might have (*cough*) say, in your formative years. I’d call that progress.
Later, when you’ve moved into your own place with your own kitchen, leaving your dishes for even a few hours will make you distinctly uncomfortable. (This one might wear off after some time. In an unrelated story, please don’t come look at my apartment right now.)
Oh, and to all you entitled leeches who use hostel dishes and don’t wash them afterwards: we see you, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.
You’ll almost certainly encounter more Germans in your hostel than anyone else, especially if you’re traveling in New Zealand and Australia. After a few weeks, you’ll stop asking where people are from and just consider them German until they say otherwise. Especially if they’re wearing a scarf. (German backpackers really like scarves.)
ETA: According to a few commenters, if you’re traveling in Europe, swap “Germans” for “Australians.” I’m not sure if they’ll still be wearing scarves.
Teabag first or water? One bag or two? How long after boiling should you pour? Bag in or out? (I can feel some of you shaking with rage already, and we haven’t even gotten to milk and sugar yet.)
Years later, you may still feel uncomfortable making tea for anyone else, for fear that they will reject your attempts as blasphemous and never speak to you again.
My hostel-dwelling days may be behind me, but its effects live on. (At least on my blog.)
Have you ever stayed long-term in a hostel? How did it change you?
– Fork photo was taken by Catt Liu (link)
– Computer photo was taken by Jay Wennington (link)
– Tea photo was taken by Sylwia Bartyzel (link)
* Any photos not credited otherwise were taken by me.