5 Conversations You’ll Only Hear In A Backpacker Hostel
You know the scene.
It’s late on a weeknight and you’ve just arrived in the hostel. With your bags safely upstairs in your locker and your bed ready to be climbed into later, you head down to meet fellow travelers.
That’s when you hear it: the unmistakable sound of tall tales being told.
Either at the reception or at the bar, there’s conversation going, usually multiple at a time, and they all sound crazy.
You ate WHAT in Mali? You had to do THAT in France?
And no matter how tall the tales get, there’s no better way to break the ice with strangers than to pop into one of their adventure re-tellings. So sift through your own memories for ones that will get a laugh, grab a cushion, and get to spinning those tales.
Here’s just a few of the conversations you’ll here in the various chill out areas, game rooms, kitchens, or bar areas in a hostel full of travelers.
- “This one time in Amsterdam…”
Forget the old “this one time at band camp.” This new version is the mother of all “have you ever” stories, and while I’ve been traveling, Amsterdam seems to be a hub for crazy life-changing stories. Sure, you can take these tales with a grain of salt—and I highly suggest that you do—but still, there are a few diamonds in the rough and they’re always good for a laugh. If you’ve got one of these stories, they’re perfect to share at the bar, so get brave and let your experiences steal the spotlight!
- “I lived in the remote forests of Sweden for 20 years.”
While at the hostel bar in Prague, I parked it on one of the bar stools next to a writer from Sweden who spent over two decades living hermit-style in the woods with no company but nature and his own thoughts. It sounded like a wild ride to me—literally, since he didn’t have any electricity—but it appeared to be a completely normal part of life to him and it was one hell of a conversation starter. He went on to tell me about the book he was writing, the screenplays he’d published back home, and the community classes he taught on beginner’s theater, and the details were like little puzzle pieces of his personality. To this day, I haven’t met a more vibrant traveler, and I still tell everyone about the conversations we had while staying in the same hostel.
- “I got led into a brothel without realizing it.”
One of my friends regaled this story one afternoon at lunch, and it began one fateful night after leaving the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Instead of making a right turn on the way back to his Airbnb flat in the 16th arrondissement, he took a left. And that’s where it all went wrong. Three free drinks and a few back doors later, my friend found himself in a bit of a pickle. Lucky for him, there was a window in the bathroom that he could escape out of—and escape he did. But not without taking this crazy story home with him.
- “I was lost in the city. For two days.”
We all know what it’s like to make a wrong turn and lose ourselves somewhere new for a few hours, but a few days? That takes real skill and enough supplies in your backpack not to worry too much about getting back where you came from. My first reaction would be to ask someone how to get back where I was going, but it didn’t seem to both the German guy who told me this story. He just kept walking, and discovering, and that was perfectly fine for him. At least he eventually made it home, right?
- “My train made an unexpected stop in the middle of Sketchville.”
A lot of people have heard this story, and it’s actually a quite common occurrence in Europe to have unexpected reroutes and delays so there will be lots of people on the couch with their own versions of this story. But as far as travel tales go, this one scares me the most. What if I don’t speak the language? What is it’s overnight and there aren’t any places to sleep? My anxiety tends to take over a little bit, but my friend Kayleigh got stuck between Berlin and Vienna in a not-too-satisfactory town and the way she braved her way out of it was with a fellow American who she met on the platform who looked just as bewildered and scared as her. So even though it wasn’t ideal, she made a friend, which is the real reason we travel, isn’t it?
So whether you’re a travel newbie or an old veteran, there’s some conversations you’re going to hear a few times around and not only will it help you keep an eye out for telltale signs (like free drinks and back doors) but it will also give you new ways to connect with people—especially once you’ve amassed a few tales of your own!
Have your own crazy story, or know a friend who’s got a seriously amazing one? Makes friends with me and share it here!