Mad Libs: Have your own hostel conversation!

By Perrin

Backpacker 1: Did you do [city]? Was it worthwhile?

Backpacker 2: It was [adjective describing party scene], [adjective describing prices], [adjective describing cleaniness].

Hostel Employee: I’ve been, the food was [flavor]. You have to try the [food].”

BP1: Where you going next?

BP2: Dunno, haven’t booked yet. Want to see that [castle / cathedral / museum]?

BP1: Can’t, I’m headed to [city] for [number lower than 3] nights!

BP2: Ok—remember, if you fit in [city], stay in [verb] [noun] hostel, they have [free breakfast / wi-fi / a bar].

Slow moment at our Belgrade hostel (July)

During the July-August tourist season, the air in European cities is clogged with countless blah-blah-blah exchanges like this one. Yeah, I picked up some new skills during that time. I can now scale a three-tier bunk bed (though the real solution is to trade spots with a bottom bunker). I can pick up the most relevent foreign words to learn based on an environment (in some countries, the most useful phrase is “Can I taste?” and in others it is, “I have a boyfriend”). I can judge when to reject a stomach-churning meal and when to swallow it down (I answer that with another question: How much did it cost?).

I also met interesting people, but many of their stories blended together. The most common profile: the European student or young corporate touring four cities in two weeks. I had thought that hostels would be a hotbed of invested explorers from divergent backgrounds, each heading in different life directions.

Charity worker of France, Mattel marketer of Peru, drum teacher of Senegal, me (unemployed American), and two language students from Italy

To my delight, there is a solution, and not a complicated one: travel in the off-season and off the beaten track. This October, I checked into a Marrakech hostel in a passage of the old medina. The foyer floor was littered with backpackers. I guessed, from their all too familiar snoring and askew hairdo’s, that they had taken an overnight train to save on a night’s accommodation.

Diverse in background if not in wardrobe: a law student working for restaurant workers in NYC, and a digital designer freelancing in Britain

In the following five days, I befriended travelers from six continents. They included an air hostess, a toy researcher, a venture capitalist for Charity Water, a public advocate for restaurant workers, and photographers for several publications.

Exploring Palais el Bahia with Australians who currently work in London. Kristy runs a vegan cafe and Alana works at Barclays

The first person I met, Holly Tarn, found me in the souks. I was gripping a map as though it were a rescue float, hoping that it would carry me through the 24 divergent alleys between me and my hostel. I stood at a road block, trying to cough up enough high-school French to tell the touts to bugger off. (“Laissez faire!” did not resonate.) Holly appeared, addressed the touts with a few Arabic words, and led me.

As it turns out, Holly is a freelance writer from Devon, England who grew up in what she describes as a highly hippy family. She is currently covering cultural conflict in Morocco—attending rallys and experimenting with life as seen through a burka.

Holly’s guest blog will appear on TheSistersBailey shortly.

Holly on the roof of Equity Point hostel

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About sistersbailey

We are Perrin and Sarah Bailey, collectively known as “The Sisters Bailey”. The moniker was born out of a crazy weekend at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest and it was the first time we had ever been referred to as one unit. We grew up in Alexandria, VA together and then separated for college - Perrin to The University of Pennsylvania and Sarah to Northwestern University – and somehow landed together in New York after graduation. It was in the midst of the hustle of Manhattan that we became friends for the first time in years. Somehow we landed jobs in the same industry - Sarah worked in marketing at HBO and Perrin managed creative digital promotions for her media agency’s main client, Disney - just three blocks from one another. One day we decided to leave our jobs, sell our belongings and travel abroad with a backpack and a collective savings of $10K. The stories of our continuing adventures and those of other fearless travelers are here to inspire you.
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2 Responses to Mad Libs: Have your own hostel conversation!

  1. Justin says:

    Yeah…that conversation sounds exactly right…glad that you’ve made it out of that rut!

  2. TeaShu says:

    this is funny. thanks

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