The only thing better than getting to know a new city when you’re travelling is getting to know your fellow wanderers and the different places they are from. The absolute best part though, is discovering that despite whatever differences you may have – language, fashion sense, or taste in music – you almost certainly have a few things in common, like a shared love of adventure and new experiences.
In this edition of Featured Traveler, where we get to know real guests staying at HI USA hostels, we spoke to James from Melbourne, Australia, who had just come from Oregon where he got to experience the magical solar eclipse in August. He was hanging out on the mezzanine level at HI San Francisco City Center hostel on a warm Tuesday afternoon.
What brings you to San Francisco?
Well, I originally came over for the Eclipse Festival in Oregon, and I met a bunch of guys there and we kind of road tripped down through Oregon, through Redding and then came to San Francisco.
What are your plans after this?
Tomorrow I’ve got to fly to Portland, and then I’ll spend a couple of days there. Then I’ll fly to Hawaii, and then from Hawaii I just go back home. So I’ve got another week left.
Do you usually stay at hostels when you travel?
Usually if I’m by myself I’ll come and stay in hostels because it’s a pretty social place to be, so by yourself it’s a lot easier to meet people and that sort of stuff.
What do you like most about traveling or being on the road?
That’s a big question. I don’t know, just seeing all the cool stuff that there is in the world and meeting lots of cool people and just having a wicked time, I guess.
What would be your favorite memory or highlight?
Oh that’s so hard, I’ve been to a lot of cool places. I’ve got to say I really love hitting up festivals, that’s one of my big highlights. I have to say even the eclipse festival that I was just at was just absolutely amazing. We were just in nature just partying for a whole week and then also seeing the totality of the solar eclipse was really special.
If you could give advice to someone who was skeptical about traveling what would you say to them?
You’ve just got to do it. You’ve just got to get out of your head, take the first step and I’d say probably the best resource is just the internet. Like being able to book hostels and stuff and having maps on your phone, because I did my first overseas travel without any internet, and it was challenging to say the least. Not having a phone or anything, so all I had was my Lonely Planet guide and I just used that to navigate my way.
But that must have been an interesting experience all on its own?
Well that’s sort of what I wanted to do, like have an authentic experience, but you know, once you get a taste of the good life with technology, it’s pretty hard to go back.
So then what’s the one thing besides your phone and internet that you can’t travel without?
A really sturdy pair of shoes I reckon, because I’ve done a lot of hiking and stuff, really unprepared, and you can mess yourself up. And just having enough clothes just to fit all sorts of climates because sometimes you think, you know, I’m heading over to Asia and I know it’s going to be stinking hot the whole time, but then you decide that you’re going to climb some mountain or something and you get up there and you’re like “Oh my God, I don’t have any warm clothes!” So just being prepared for all sorts of climates would be good.