On Travelling as a Twentysomething

By Christina

On this trip, I have begun staying at the quintessential accommodation of the twenty-something: the hostel. And I have to say, I think I’m converted for life. Apart from the obvious budget-friendliness, hostels are wonderful for a lot of reasons.

I have never felt such a sense of community as I do in hostels. Apparently when you throw dozens of young people from all over the world together, they become fast friends and want to help each other out. “Hey, want to join us for a beer?” nearly always turns into, “You should totally come hiking with us tomorrow!” and then, “If you’re ever in Phoenix, just message me and you’ve got a place to stay.” You bond with all kinds of people that you otherwise might never have talked to.

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Photo cred: Sean Brandon Davis

We’ve made friends with 18-year-olds fresh out of high school and having their first legal drink,  35-year-olds seeking respite from their careers and, of course, hordes of twenty-somethings who, when you ask them what they want to do with their lives either snort and say, “I have no idea,” or respond with a shrug and, “Travel!”. People in hostels are pulled out of their comfort zones, which creates unexpected bonds and friendships. Once you get past the “Where are you from?” and “Why are you here?”, you get to exchange travel tips and stories and suddenly they’re no longer a stranger to you.

Sometimes you find yourself feeling old and experienced and sometimes you feel clueless and inept, but the great thing is there is always someone you can share your wisdom with and there is always someone you can take advice from.

Hostels are the perfect place to exchange information. Whether you need a restaurant recommendation or a new drinking game, a fellow traveller or hostel employee is always there to help. Hostels also have these wonderful things called book exchanges, so you can bring 1 or 2 books and literally never run out of new reading material.

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You will also encounter an incredible mixture of cultures stuffed into one little microcosm. You get to meet people from all over the world who speak different languages and generally have new ideas to share.

There’s nothing quite like explaining the drinking game “Never have I ever” in broken French (and then again in very broken German) or arguing during “rhyme time” in a game of King’s Cup because “beer” and “Korea” only rhyme if you have an English accent.

Hostels obviously have their downsides too, but you learn from each of these experiences. In the past month and a half I have learned that I can sleep without sheets, take cold showers, sleep with the lights on and music pounding (not to mention an earthquake), and share a bathroom with 12 other people.

Hostelling is a unique experience, and I would recommend it to everyone.

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Photo cred: Sean Brandon Davis

I have been told that our generation feels entitled to travel.

I don’t disagree.

I don’t mean that our parents should be obliged to pay for a three-week long, binge-drinking adventure. I mean that we are entitled to know the world we live in: to experience other cultures, learn other languages, get out of the self-absorbed, protected little bubble of school and parents and familiarity.

Our generation, the people who are currently twenty-somethings, has been raised in an increasingly globalized world and it’s only natural that we want to explore it for ourselves.

So if you have the means, the money, and the time, just go for it and don’t let anyone else dictate what you are entitled to.

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Photo cred: Sean Brandon Davis

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3 responses to “On Travelling as a Twentysomething

  1. Good post Christina! I totally agree, hostels are a lot of fun, and are a great way to travel and meet people. But just to play devil’s advocate.. How much do you really think we are getting to know the culture of another place when we are staying in hostels with other tourists..? I think you have to make an effort if you really want to get to know the culture of a place, but it can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know the language.

    • I absolutely agree, Kat. You are definitely missing out on the culture of a place if you simply associate with tourists. However, (especially in a place like Costa Rica, where the standard of living is fairly high) a lot of locals tend to stay in hostels too.

      If you want to delve into the culture a little more, there’s always couchsurfing.com, a fantastic website where locals offer up their couches to travellers for free! We haven’t had the opportunity to take advantage of this yet, but many fellow travellers have used it and had great experiences. You can also do a homestay if you want to live, eat and sleep with a real live family. This is a great option if you’re staying in one place long-term.

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