A little while ago, I wrote an article about the worst types of people to find in hostels and, to be honest, I feel a little bit bad. I mean yes, it was a fun rant, and I feel a lot of the points are very valid, however, as I said, it really only represents a very very very very very small minority of dickheads who need a slap in the face. So to make amends here’s me dipping my toe into the endless ocean of good people who are out there and waiting to be discovered.
1 – Me – Let’s just face it, I’m the best. Not only do I stink out entire dorm rooms with my sweaty feet, my annoying guitar will have you rushing to find those earplugs that have disappeared into the bottom of your black hole backpack. My unbearable enthusiasm that I possess when I’m happy (about 99.9% of the time I’m travelling) is completely intolerable and -wait, maybe I spoke a little too soon.
2 – The Game Changer – Stereotypes exist for a reason, and while a lot of them are based on truth there is always going to be somebody out there who defies them. Not all Germans are punctual. Not all Americans are annoying patriots. Not all Australians are criminals – no wait, I take that back. Travelling expands your universe and your perception of everything in it, and being proved delightfully wrong is part of the development that we endure which changes us for when we return to our families. Take Axel, one of our bloggers, for example. He listens to loud and angry music and usually wears black, but he’s one of the happiest, smiliest, most gentle people I know. He’s like a tall smelly flower.
3 – The Game Changer… The other kind – Sometimes a Bavarian will get in the back of your car on the way to a waterfall, and a year later you’ll be drinking German Bier with her parents in a tiny Bavarian village. Sometimes you’ll think the Latina over there is kind of cute but probably a bit crazy and before you know it you’ll be falling asleep to the sound of caimans hunting in the Amazon Basin, hoping the tarantula can’t make it past the mosquito nets. Sometimes you’ll be approached by a Venezuelan who claims she was punched in the face by her sleeping travel mate and shortly after you’ll start up an online blog with them. There are people out there who will change your life, and when you meet so many people in such a short space of time the chance is so high which is why you MUST ABSOLUTELY GET THE FUCK OFF YOUR LAPTOP AND SOCIALISE. Period.
4 – The one with the raging playlist – When you travel, you spend a lot of time in your own company, and often it pays to have a big pair of Sennheiser headphones to make you look like an antisocial pretentious anal probe. The thing is, when you spend so much time listening to your music, you get sick of it pretty quickly, which is why it’s important to steal the melodies off everybody else’s iPod around you. As a result of this, I now listen religiously to such artists as The Naked and Famous, Charlie Winston, Peter Fox, The Cat Empire, Movits!, Caravan Palace and, thanks to Claudia, I now possess a rekindled affection for The Killers. Cheers guys. The winner of the absolute best playlist goes to Franzi, who has every alternative song from the past that you could possibly wish for a nostalgic afternoon of singalongs and beer.
5 – Karl fucking Schilling – Here in Germany they say that you meet everybody twice, but, well, if you meet this fucker once you’ll probably end up seeing him another fifteen times. I first met him in Fiji where he was wearing nothing but his only pair of boxers complete with revealing holes, and singing about fish and chips. He has since turned up twice in my hometown in New Zealand, expecting accommodation and food all with no notice. When people ask me “Tom, when are you going to stop all this bullshit and settle down?” I simply point at him, to which they will usually reply “he’s got nothing and he looks like a bit of a dick”. It’s true, he has nothing (sometimes even less when he leaves half of his luggage at your house accidentally) and he is a bit of an overly-confident dick (which he can’t help, he does originate from Birmingham), but much more than that, he’s always impossibly happy. He will seldom pay for anything, opting to hitchhike instead of buying a bus ticket, busking illegally to obtain a meal, and sleeping wherever he can find shelter for free which means he contributes very little to the community, but he does offer his infectious positivity, his beaming personality, and of course his hilarious and fantastic stories (all repeated on Facebook complete with a lack of spelling and grammar, might I add). I’m half tempted to start a crowdfunding programme to send him to South America, just to see what the hell happens when he’s really out of his comfort zone. He is a fucking inspiration, and he shows us that travelling can be cheap, that possessions are unnecessary, and happiness can be achieved in the most unconventional of lifestyles and in the simplest of gestures. Keep going Karl, the world needs more people like you.
6 – The one with food – Travellers are often generous people who like to share, particularly those who work in hospitality and have access to large amounts of leftovers. Befriend these people, for they might just fill you up for free. Better still, sometimes they’re so enthusiastic about their culture and cuisine that they will cook for you, or even show you how to cook their favourite meals, and being able to collect recipes from every corner of the globe is just another way to make your everyday life more interesting, as well as augmenting your dimensions past that of a single seat on an aeroplane.
7 – The one with beer – Much like the one with food, only about 62 times more important.
8 – The one with the car – These guys are important for discounted mobility around your local area, especially if it’s particularly rural. Quite often they come equipped with a raging playlist to play on the move (see point 4).
9 – The one willing to kidnap you for two weeks just so you can be with them on their birthday – I personally think that it’s more fun if I don’t explain this one and let your minds wander for a moment.
10 – The one who visits you/ The one you go to visit – Making international connections all over the world has a lot of benefits, but at the top of that list is free accommodation in exotic lands and a local brain to show you around. Even better still is when people deem you interesting and exciting enough to come to visit you in your homeland. As you travel, you will fall in love with more and more people of all ages and genders and religions and nationalities, and if you persist with staying in contact, you will meet your closest friends for life.
11 – The Musicians – I have had many a jam in a whole plethora of different languages in so many weird and exciting locations that I will never forget. Musicians don’t have to be able to talk to each other to be able to communicate and create chemistry. They’re also often very creative and interesting people, providing they’re not too cocky (which definitely does happen all too frequently), and can provide you with hours and hours of Vance Joy’s “Riptide” on repeat, amongst a couple of other songs.
12 – The Hitchhiker – These guys are always fucking bonkers (myself included) but always have some good stories to tell because of it. They also have a habit of seeing the best in people – it doesn’t matter to them if one hundred cars pass them on the streets, the only car that matters is the one that stops. They’re positive, crazy and wonderful, and will happily tell you all about their roadside endeavours for lifetimes of entertainment.
13 – The Staff – Although it seems you get as many horrible staff members as good ones, making friends with them comes with certain benefits such as the occasional discounted night, access to food, local knowledge and certain priorities. I mean yes, it’s basically exploiting both yourself and the staff member, but when you’re the member of staff people will do it to you, and so the circle of exploitation becomes complete.
14 – The Long Term Resident – Hostels aren’t just for overnight guests; sometimes they house people who are travelling and working, who have stopped in that town for a little while. These people have the open mindset of a backpacker but the knowledge of a local and can direct you to a much needed good coffee, interesting local food, unusual attractions (often not inside your Lonely Planet guide) and help you to scratch a little deeper than most travellers who quickly pass through the area.
15 – The Hikers – Providing you’re not welcomed into the dorm room by a warm wall of body odour (worst night’s sleep of my life, although it did successfully mask the aromas radiating from my toes), the hikers, much like the hitchhikers, usually have a lot of good stories to tell. They will drag you off into isolated and remote places at ungodly hours to watch the sunrise and make you eat lukewarm overcooked tomato pasta in the rain, but they will also open up a world of adventure and the natural heart of the country that you’re exploring. Befriend the nature freaks; they’re also the people that might just save our planet.
This really is just the beginning, and I could talk for hours about this, but I won’t bore you any longer – I did say I’d be dead before I finished in my previous post, and quite frankly there’s still some countries I intend to visit before I kick the bucket instead of sitting here and talking about other people. There are so many positive, enthusiastic and interesting characters to meet on the road, and it’s so vital that we don’t just remember the small minority that occasionally steal a breath of our exuberance, but to also remember everybody who inflated you a little along the way. You won’t like everybody you meet, but it’s important to hang onto those you do, and to remember that your stories with them don’t have to stop just because you’ve gone home.
– Tom @ indieroad