Here I am sitting on the rooftop terrace of a hostel in Quito, Ecuador… I’ve stuck myself in the corner table while everyone’s eating their breakfast and sharing tales of their travels. It’s just too early for me to socialise…
I can really only speak for myself here, but as an introvert the thought of hostels make me nervous. Scrolling through Hostelworld trying to find my next bed gets me anxious and I will always skip through any listing that resembles a party house full of drunk tourists… Even a hostel with popular communal areas are enough to put me off…
I remember once, some friends were recommending a hostel in Costa Rica to me. Every day in this hostel was apparently a pool party in the sun with 100s of travelers. Alarm bells were ringing in my head…
That sounds like fucking hell!
It’s safe to assume I never stayed there; opting for a more chill hostel instead.
But when traveling long term (and short term), hostel accommodation becomes a bit of a necessity to help keep the costs down. So I suck it up, put on a sociable face, and learned the best way for me personally to enjoy staying in hostels while traveling.
Here’s a few things I do to make sure I enjoy hostel life:
You can pretty much tell from the Hostel website or listing what kind of hostel it is. If it’s a party hostel, the majority of the photos will be of the guests downing shots and partying up a storm. Scroll past all those (unless you’re really in the mood for a bender) until you find something that seems to have the vibes you’re looking for during your stay. Hostels usually state what kind of atmosphere they have. Some totally endorse partying while others have a no noise policy after 10pm.
The best choice would be to get your own private room. Hostels offer a range of room types from private with ensuite, private with shared bathroom, mixed 4 bed dorms, female 4 bed dorms, mixed 16 BED DORMS (kill me now). I personally like to opt for the private rooms. That way I can escape and recharge when I need to… Plus I can make as much noise and mess as I want. I do mixed dorms now and then but usually no more than a 5 bed dorm.
This is where all the hostel socialising goes down, especially if you’ve been staying in a private room. Many times I’ve been in the communal areas to get work done, not to socialise. People will give you space if you have in your ear plugs or if you’re staring intently at your computer screen typing away. No one wants to be the douchebag to interrupt your ‘deep thoughts’. If you’re in the mood to socialise just be approachable and keep off your technology so no one thinks you’re busy.
(Actually I’ve changed destinations since beginning this post. Im now in Banos, Ecuador in a hostel nestled among the mountains. Using the communal area and also using the strategy outlined above of typing furiously on the computer to come across as unapproachable. Give me 30 minutes then I’ll shut my laptop down, order a wine, plaster a smile on my face…And maybe, just maybe indulge in some small talk. We’ll see.)
Spend time with the people you want to spend time with:
Hostels bring in people from all walks of life. If you find you don’t connect with someone, that’s fine. Move on. Try and identify the ones that you think you will connect with in a way that’s more than just a little small talk. Traveling can result in a bunch of new great friends so there’s no need to spend your energy on the people you can’t relate to.
What are your tricks for staying in hostels while catering to your introvert needs?
Feel free to share them in the comments below!