Prologue: I wrote this post last night while laying in the middle bunk of a six-person bunk bed (picture the middle seat on a plane…only for sleeping). As you can imagine, I wasn’t in the best of moods. As a result, the post is a bit of a rant, but it’s still mostly true. I’m writing this prologue from the common room of a rustic hostel in East Glacier, Montana, where the peeps are friendly, we have a private room, I’ve had two Montana beers and my perspective has “improved.” Nonetheless, I thought it fitting to share my honest hosteling experiences with you…
As we prepare to check into our fifth and final hostel of the trip, I thought it fitting to write about why hostels and I don’t mix. First, a little background on our trip planning logic. We booked hostels throughout the Canadian Rockies because average summer lows are in the neighborhood of 40 degrees F. That means it could be in the 30s or even below freezing at night, just a bit too cold for our current set of camping gear. Also, there are Grizzly Bears…enough said.
What we couldn’t anticipate was the heatwave that hit Alberta over the past four or five days. Also, it turns out that tomorrow is Canada Day (basically the Canadian equivalent of the 4th of July), making this a holiday weekend and drawing many tourists to the Canadian National Parks to celebrate. All of this means crowded hostels.
You see, I have learned that I am not a hostel kind of guy. First, the premise of the hostel is to share accommodations with strangers to lower the cost for everyone. This is where things go wrong. As an introvert, I don’t like being forced to be around a lot of other people I don’t know. I know many of you have seen me run a meeting, give a presentation or influence someone to do what was needed to get a job done, but you’ve probably also seen me grab my stuff and head for the hills as soon as it was over.
I’m terrible at small talk, and honestly, I’m easily annoyed. When I can, I enjoy the privacy of my own apartment or room, and the company of the friends and family I know and trust. In a hostel, there’s no privacy. When you’re sleeping, there are strangers in the room (possibly right next to you)…or chatting in the hall…or smoking up the joint with their bad cooking. When you’re in the bathroom, there are strangers outside the door wondering if you’re done yet.
It’s really not the accommodations that are the problem. Rustic or modern, I’m good to go. It’s the other people…at least most of them. While there are some nice ones (cheers to the quiet guy reading his book, and best of luck to our bunk-mates from Ireland who were chill and full of good conversation), there are twice as many folks that I’d rather not have in my everyday life.
We’ve been in hostels for five straight nights, and we have three more to go. I’m optimistic that this hostel will be best of the lot, and possibly my last…ever.
So, if you want to take me on a trip, take me to a hotel, take me to a B&B, take me camping, take me to your mom’s house, heck…make me sleep in the car, but please don’t take me to a hostel. – M