“Do you not feel lonely?” I get asked this question a lot. And I mean a lot. But seriously how can I ever be alone when I meet so many fellow travellers and friends along the way of my journey. And you should know that I am a big introvert. Sometimes way too much for my own good but chances are, that someone in a hostel will lure me out of my shell and get me talking. And then I never stop. You have been warned. But I do love staying in hostels and was really happy to be invited by Hi USA to check out some of their hotels on my US trip.
But never mind my silly antics, everyone can stumble upon amazing people in hostels. And you don’t even have to try very hard. It could be someone commenting on you making the whole hostel smell of broccoli (did you know it’s considered a delicacy and they had to change the vegetable meal in the Pixar film Inside Out especially because of that?).
You could be working on your computer all afternoon long and someone might take an interest in why anyone would be such a workaholic zombie (I seriously don’t move apart from my hands and facial expressions – see video proof here). Or you could just start the typical conversation of “Where are you from? What made you come here? Where are you going next? If you do not take anything away from your hostel experience (which is unlikely), you will at least learn basic small talk.
During my travels, I basically lived in hostels, which makes the hostel experience slightly harder as you – especially introverts – often crave personal space as well as peace and quiet because hostels are super social. If you are bored, you are doing something wrong. Since I loved all my stays in Australia’s YHAs, I teamed up with HI USA again to find out whether American hostel life was any different from the Australian one. And it was.
Turning the Nice Up
For one, I received an amazing breakfast that was included during my stay in Richmond and Baltimore. Think of a wooden table with plates full of morning oats, fruits, milk, juice, bread and spreads. Add sunshine and you get the hipster breakfast heaven right there. I loved it. And it tremendously helped me prep for the day and get some vitamins into my sick body. Jep, another hostel before my stay at the HI USA hostels had made me sick due to draftiness. No fun, I tell ya.
And since I wasn’t in my usual happy place and arrived way too early for check in one day in Baltimore, I was all the more surprised to see the staff making such an effort to get my room ready before everybody else’s so I could rest. The nicest receptionist ever. She later even invited me for a pub outing with her colleagues and friends. Ok, America you are officially awesome.
Get Chill and Rest Your Wanderer Feet
If you are not such a restless workaholic like me, you can actually lay back and appreciate the eye for detail HI USA has put into their east coast hostels. My personal favourite was the common room and kitchen in Richmond with its vintage/hipster flair showing in mixed retro furniture, steel and wooden tables, awesome typography on the walls and a little reading nook upstairs. And did I mention my Queens Room with my own super big bed, table for work, clothes rack and big bathroom? Hostel life can be fun, folks.
And if chilling out is still not your thing, know that the wifi so far was good (except the one time it shut down for a few hours throughout the building, which finally made me move my workaholic butt and explore the city) and you can watch Netflix to your heart’s content. In New York City, there even was a basement theatre for watching films and live comedy shows (no Amy Schumer, though). For more entertainment, each hostel offers different activities every day. Many of them are free.
One World, One Passion
Speaking of events and getting back to my original point, they are a good way to both explore the city from a local point of view and hang out with like-minded people. This way, I found people who liked parks just as much as I did (check out the Central Park wall in NYC), had a love for American poetry (I saw Poe’s grave, y’all) or accidentally sit next to someone who has lived in the same place as you (a big shoutout to Malmö, Sweden).
So if you ask me whether the mission of HI USA is actually accomplished, I will vehemently nod my head in agreement. Oh, and it happens to be just what I am trying to do here on my little blog as well: making the world a little better through travel, because travel is the best teacher and helps spread tolerance and cheer. Seriously, nothing will dismantle your carefully crafted stereotypes better than to be confronted with people from all over the world who, at the core, seem to be just like you. And they love what you do, that is travel. Let’s all connect over mutual passions.
This post came to be thanks to HI USA, who invited me to check out their NYC, Baltimore and Richmond hostels so I could continue my glorious streak of YHA love. And as always, my heart is on my sleeve. All honesty, folks.