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10 hostel mates you meet in hell
The moocher, the clinger, the snob. How many of these irritating roommates have you bunked down with on your travels?
Hostels are great places to cultivate friendships and share your experiences abroad.
It's just a shame you can't always choose your neighbors. No matter where you are, you'll yearn to be any place else.
Meet the 10 people you never want to find sleeping above or below your bed.
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1. The one-man eating band
How to identify: He dines on only the most pungent, debris-yielding, noisily packaged foodstuffs ... at all times. His bunk is no more a sleeping quarters than an ogre's lair of gnashed pork byproducts and discarded nut husks.
Reason to hate: Once the crumbs fall from his beard and bounce off his shirt, they inevitably land on the floor, inviting exotic foreign insects to crawl under your skin at night.
Redeeming quality: After misinterpreting your death stare for interest, he offers you a yogurt granola bar.
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2. The top-bunk bladder
How to identify: Up and down that bunk ladder like he’s on night duty, this leaky faucet can't remain still for more than 90 seconds before having to clamber back down from his bunk in the noisiest fashion possible for a 29th trip to the bathroom or smoking area.
Reason to hate: Right when you’re dozing off, he uses your bed as a step, crushing your left arm.
Redeeming quality: Considerately refrains from smoking or peeing on top of you.
3. The personal hygienist
How to identify: He's got an inexhaustible supply of uncut toe- and fingernails, and the world is his day spa. You know he's aboard before you're even round the corner, with the distinctive snap of his clippers scattering shards of thick, brittle keratin all about the cabin.
Reason to hate: You'd rather be caught in the teeth of a Sarlacc pit than roll onto one of his sharp discarded nails, but you do, anyway. And it’s even grosser than you thought.
Redeeming quality: After he sees your own unkempt vacation gargoyle claws, he offers his clippers.
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4. Carmen Sandiego
How to identify: She will identify you. As someone who cares.
She has been to every corner of the earth and will casually mention to you and everyone within earshot how well traveled she is. She will undoubtedly brag about Nepal or Myanmar, as Carmen Sandiegos think these Buddhist destinations make them more enlightened than you.
Reasons to hate: Despite saving every penny you’ve ever earned, you’ve never been or never will be in any of the places she mentions because your mother does not work for Cathay Pacific.
Redeeming quality: Will offer up her collection of used Lonely Planet books.
5. The Stage 5 clinger
How to identify: The clinger will find any reason, any reason at all, to break the ice and never let it melt. “Is that a Timex watch? I had one in college, when I was studying international business. Now I’m a trader, what do you do?”
Reason to hate: You can’t escape the clinger. Once they've got you talking, they will never leave your side. They will assume all activities, cooking, sightseeing, laundering, will be done together.
Redeeming quality: Will ask you to help cash in on their two-for-one meal deals.
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6. The musician
How to identify: Will have an instrument at all times. It will probably be a guitar or, God help us all, a bamboo flute. You will find him in the common room, your room, dining room and bathroom.
Reason to hate: The cringe-inducing, emotional close-eyed singing face. Nothing is more uncomfortable than when a total stranger’s underlying emotion surfaces through song.
Redeeming quality: Can reenact the flute scene in "Anchor Man."
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7. The moocher
How to identify: “You gonna eat the rest of that?” This guy has no shame if it means he can slink his way into a couple of freebies, even if it’s your pizza crust.
Reason to hate: You spend your hard-earned cash on some slices of Canadian back bacon, then this freeloader makes you feel guilty for not wanting to give him “just one slice.” Then he proceeds to call you tight.
Redeeming quality: Presents you with opportunity to feel more altruistic than you actually are.
8. The travel snob
How to identify: Dreadlocks. She’s been to every 10-syllable city you’ve never heard of. Despite the fact that she is a trust fund baby, she only talks about the most dangerous, impoverished cities.
So, what brings her to your ritzy hostel in Melbourne? Only because she’s recovering from a snakebite she got in Tanzania.
Reason to hate: Turns her nose if you mention anything too touristy, like "map" or "showers," then proceeds to brag about the time she smoked Salvia with the Adioukrou tribe on the Ivory Coast.
Redeeming quality: Is so engaged with the locals, is also the one most likely to get robbed.
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9. The couple
How to identify: They eat together, sleep together and launder together, but don’t socialize with anyone else to prevent any jealous fights while traveling.
Reason to hate: They skip social gatherings to stay in their bunk watching YouTube videos of cats.
Redeeming quality: Extra bed to throw your crap, meaning you don’t have to leave your stuff on the floor with all the bugs the one-man eating band has attracted.
10. The switchboard
How to identify: With no regard whatsoever for anyone else in the room, the switchboard will yap and dramatically coo to loved ones over the phone, describing everything from her breakfast to her bowel movements.
Reason to hate: She keeps you up all night. The bags under your eyes make you look like a drug dealer resulting in a full-cavity search at the airport the next day.
Redeeming quality: She lets you use her phone to call home when you’ve run out of cash -- yap away, she’s got an unlimited long-distance plan.
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First published November 2011, updated September 2012