Stephanie is an Irish freelance travel writer and photographer who has been travelling very slowly around the world since January 2012. Stephanie’s favourite countries include India, Nepal, Morocco, Mexico, Colombia, and now Chile, where she is currently living for the next few months. Check out her blog DiscoveringIce to follow more of her adventures.
You’ve just broken free from the shackles of societal restraint; work, college and debt free, you’re ready to take on the world on a new adventure! This day has been a long time coming and you’re damned if you’re not going to make the most of it.
Ready to Mingle
After a bumpy, noisy and dusty bus journey from the airport to the hostel, you’re eager and excited to meet your fellow travellers; kindred souls, open and ready to share in your enthusiasm for exploring the world!
You throw down your 40 litre, overstuffed backpack after checking in and make your way to the hostel common room with a spring in your step.
However, the common room is pretty quiet, with people scattered individually all over the room. That’s ok. You’re determined to be the one to unite the hostel in friendly solidarity.
Feeling The Cold Shoulder
You start off by making your way over to the guy in the corner with the well-worn hiking shoes and the sun-soaked skin. He’s bound to have a few good stories to tell!
You say hello and he returns the pleasantries but doesn’t seem very keen on engaging any further in conversation. You move on, kind of disappointed at your first interaction with a fellow traveller.
The next group of people seem keen on sticking to themselves, politely declining your friendly request to go grab a few beers from the local ‘tienda’.
Another solo traveller has had their head firmly stuck to their computer screen since you arrived. ‘No point in disturbing them’, you think disappointedly.
Find Your Tribe & Respect The Rest
It’s easy to feel disappointed when people close themselves off to interacting with other travellers. Don’t take it as a personal insult or as something against your personality. Just remember that all travellers are at a different stage of their journey. While some are just starting off on their adventure with unparalleled vigour and zest, others are winding down their adventure in a pensive and reflective state of mind.
Someone who has been travelling for several months, or even a year, will not be as enthusiastic about meeting new people as someone who has just arrived to the first city on their world tour.
With some patience, you’ll find your tribe. There is always someone in the same boat as you. Just make sure not to judge the rest.
Anti-Social or Tired?
Travelling is beautiful because it is like a continually revolving door; allowing anyone to join or leave the adventure at any time. Travel is not exclusive to extroverts, social-butterflies or adrenaline junkies. Travel welcomes everyone, from the introverted guy in the corner who needs some time away from the noise, to the recent college grad who has never left her home country before.
So don’t judge the person at the hostel who seems to be very absent-minded. They could just be homesick or longing for an exotic land.
Don’t judge the person at the hostel who doesn’t want to go out partying. They could be heartbroken, or just plain broke.
Don’t judge the person at the hostel who sits in the dorm on their computer for hours. They could just need some time to themselves or may need to get some important work done.
Don’t judge the person at the hostel who seems to lack enthusiasm for meeting new people. They could be on their seventh month of continuous travel and tired of answering the question ‘where are you from?’ over and over.
You Can’t ‘Win’ At Travelling
Travelling is not a competition, nor is hostelling. There is no right way to travel, to meet people or to have fun. Whether you’re an introvert feeling overwhelmed by the constant stream of people in your hostel, or a new traveller wondering why everyone is not as excited as you, just remember the simplest rule of travel; everyone’s on their own journey.
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