You cannot avoid meeting people on the road. Trust me, I’ve tried. Hostels are breeding grounds for new friendships and while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there are some people you will meet on your journey that will really make you wonder if a few years in a Bolivian prison on a homicide charge is such a bad thing. But, variety is the spice of life and if we only met cool people that we love while we travel, we wouldn’t have nearly as many stories to tell when we got home. So, here is a run down of pretty much everyone you are likely to meet as you traverse the world from the shimmering heights of culture fanatics to the murky depths of hostel volunteers.
These are the people we all aspire to be. They get up at 8am and are showered, dressed and ready to go by 8:15. They even bought eggs and bananas the day before so they would have something nutritious for breakfast. From the moment they step out of the door of the hostel until they return in the evening, their day is jam-packed with activites that they meticulously planned in advance and probably typed up into an itinerary and then laminated. When they come back in the evenings, they pore over the hundreds of photos they took and then recount the days activities in a leather bound journal that they specifically bought for this trip. They will inevitably make you feel like shit when they come back at 7pm to find you in the exact same spot you were in when they nipped back for extra suncream at midday. They might be annoying and easy targets for negative remarks but they are travelling well. Kudos to these guys.
The Hostel Twat
Every hostel will have at least one of these guys and if you can’t find him, you probably are him. I say ‘him’ confidently here because it is almost always men who fill this position (sorry boys). The hostel twat is easily identifiable from his neon full-moon party vest (it doesn’t matter if he’s in Peru, he will still be wearing it), his fedora hat and his voice that is always at least three times louder than the acceptable decibel level. If you can’t see a neon vest then look for bare skin because he may well be topless. He is the worst person you’ve ever met and he looks like he was conceived in a bunk bed. He also probably volunteers in the hostel, working 8 hours a day in exchange for a bed in a shared dorm and some toast. Every night at around 9pm Vesty McTwatface will start his hunt for a potential mate and once he’s found one, he will insist on doing shots of cheap local poison until she is ready to copulate. Stay the fuck away from this guy.
When the nuclear holocaust comes, the only things left will be cockroaches and Australians. Probably. What I have learnt whilst being on the road is that Australians are fine as long as they are on their own (usually). Once they start to group together, the pack mentality emerges, use of the word cunt becomes even more liberal and you might as well move hostels because that one will be nothing but a fine layer of ash on the ground once they are done with it. Unlike the British, who will binge-drink until they are blind and then pass out into a puddle of their own vomit, Australians seem to have found the secret ingredient to drinking forever without ever having to stop or dying or running out of beer money. I have called it a night at 4am, woken up at 11am and come into the common room of a hostel to find all the Australians I left there the night before still going hard with 500 empty beer cans on the tables and a thick white crust around each of their nostrils. Your livers might fucking hate you, but Australians I salute you for single-handedly bolstering the drinks economy of countless third world countries.
Before I continue let me just say, I have nothing against being spiritual. What I do have a problem with is people trying to ram their beliefs and ideas down my throat, whether it’s spiritualism, veganism, communism – whatever. Just fuck off. Instant red flags for spotting the spiritual explorer are phrases like “I can’t believe the person I used to be”, “it just completely changed the way I see the world”, “wanna try this smoothie? It will help realign your chakras”. Also be on the lookout for dreadlocks, hareem pants, facial piercings and a well thumbed paperback that starts with the words “A Spiritual Guide to…” They say the reason they travel is to find themselves or some bullshit but we all know its just so they can broaden the network of people they can bore with tales of how they’ve been working on their karma. They also probably brought their own hula-hoop with them and would love to show you the curative power of setting it on fire and spinning it around your wrist.
This is a weird category but one that I am seeing more and more. Performers are people who have literally chosen to travel so they can rack up likes on social media. Or so it seems. People that have a full-on crisis over which filter to use and truly believe that if they don’t take a million photos of themselves doing something, they might as well not have done it. They add everyone they meet on facebook and then make sure they tag them all in group photos of them all partying along with captions that say “getting crunk with my new mates” and then a million hashtags. Just so everyone knows they have made some friends on the road. They do stuff they don’t even want to do just so they can say they’ve done it. Performers can be fun to be around for a bit if you’re lacking in photos and need some motivation to go and do touristy stuff but limit it to a few days or you will go insane.
Story-tellers come in two different forms: ones you like and ones you can’t stand. The difference primarily lies in the way they tell their stories. Travelling is all about seeing and doing amazing things so, naturally, the outcome of this is a lot of cool stories that you can bore people with in the future. The story-tellers that you are going to want to find are the ones that have sick anecdotes to tell. They will make you laugh and gasp at the same time and genuinely leave you hoping that they crack out another story in the near future. Instead of telling you that the view of the mountains from outside their yurt was incredible and that the experience was totally enlightening, they give you a character profile of the drunk Nepalese man who slaughtered a yak with his bare hands. That kind of thing, y’know?
The Weather-Beaten Wanderer
These guys have been on the road for too long are sick of everyone and everything. Every time their food takes too long to come you can literally hear their blood start to boil and there is no fucking way they are getting ripped off by a taxi driver. They will haggle over everything and bitch about everyone but if you can get on their good side they can be the best kind of people to latch on to. Unlike your average traveller, these guys are happy to just sit around doing nothing for a day – it’s essential recharging, not a waste of time. And, when they do decide to do something, it won’t be to go to Machu Picchu. Oh no. They will have found something that no-one has ever heard of that is at least 8 times better than anything on the standard tourist trail. They don’t care if the food is ‘authentic’ or ‘only what the locals eat’ – if it’s cheap and not completely inedible, that’s good enough. These guys are real travellers who want more than just an album full of selfies.