"Travel is Glamorous only in Retrospect" - Paul Teroux

I told every one I was backpacking Europe because I was convinced that I could travel with only the basic items required to look presentable while avoiding membership to the BO club (who I'm continuously catching a whiff of on public trasport). Maybe I would even dirty up my new Osprey backpack to look like a well-seasoned traveler?

In reality, I had a 25 year old temper tantrum because I couldn't fit 4 pairs of shoes & clothes for every season into a backpack that could barely fit my toiletries. If you've never whitnessed this brand of tantrum, pray you never do.

I rolled my clothes neatly, put them into a generic suitcase and shrugged off the idea of EVER looking as cool as the cast of The Amazing Race.

Suitcase Wounds

 

When I arrived in Europe it quickly became clear to me that I was the !@#$%^& who delayed trains, planes & automobiles because my 'stuff' was too important to leave behind. The majority of Europeans stepping off a plane look like they're just stepping off set of a Vogue cover shoot. I understand you all look great ARRIVING, but now that you're at your destiation, how do you have enough items in your tiny bag to keep up this charade? ANY ONE? They're not staying in a hostile, I can tell you that much!

 

For those of you that haven't had the pleasure of staying in a hostile, let me break it down for you.

 

The Perks:

- The cheapeast form of accomodation (most of the time). The Flying Pig costs anywhere from 30 - 45 Euros per night which is actually on the more expensive side.

- This is THE place to meet people from all walks of life doing exactly what you're doing.

- Most hostiles have a kitchen to cook your food so you can avoid expensive restaurants.

- Hostiles are GREAT source of information. Staff at hostiles are always willing to give you directions or advise about anything from the best route to travel, to the best place to party.

- Locks to secure your valuables.

The Downfall:

- You can't choose your roommates. In some hostiles you can book a private room, but it defeats the purpose of cheap accomodation. If you're going to book a private room you might as well stay in a hotel. Rooms are typically 4, 6, or 8 beds (bunk bed style) and if you stay in a room with boys who like to go to raves and come back at 4am to continue partying, that's part of the deal. In my last hostile the boys were from Norway and they spent 50% of their time smoking in cafes and the other 50% passed out in their beds with surrounded by baked goods.

- Shared bathrooms and showers. There will always be someone waiting to use either of these necessities so you usually feel rushed. Most hostiles advertise "hot showers" and it always makes me laugh a little bit. I have either been consistently frozen or burned in hostile showers but it's worth it for the sake of clean hair. One of my recent stays was in a hostile looking to "Go Green" by having lights that turn on and off with movement. That's fine in theory, but when the lights are CONTINUOUSLY turning off during my 10 minute shower and I have to do a dance in order to get them to turn back on, you should probably change to recycling as a way to reduce your carbon footprint.

- Hostiles are not meant for those of us who can't handle a backpack. The area where you can lock up your things CLEARLY can't fit a suitcase, so I usually only lock up the expensive things.

 

I'm now in Southern France staying with a friend who has an apartment with 1 day bed with a pull-out, a working shower & a kitchen the size of a pantry and it feels like The Ritz!

Will update soon. xx