The only thing better than getting to know a new city when traveling 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 Nadine and Tamara, two friends from Switzerland waiting for their airport shuttle after a week’s stay at HI San Francisco City Center hostel.
What brings you to San Francisco?
Tamara: I always wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. We went on the only sunny day last week and it was perfect – there were nice views from the bridge and from Alcatraz.
Nadine: It was really fantastic and impressive.
How often do you travel?
N: As often as we can!
What is your favorite place that you’ve traveled to?
N: That’s hard. I loved Rome the most. There’s just something special about being there, I can’t really describe it. The old buildings, there’s so much to see and do, and there’s lots of good food and good coffee!
T: My favorite was a very small town in Vietnam because it kind of felt that the world was small and problems didn’t really matter. The people were really friendly and everywhere you went there was just a relaxed feeling.
Why do you think travel is important?
T: Because it keeps me open minded. It’s important because we expect others to do the same as us and we don’t understand where they are coming from, which is the reason for conflict. If you don’t travel, you don’t see other sides and beliefs – but when you travel you might not always agree with someone, but you’ll be able to understand them and be more tolerant.
What advice do you have for travelers?
T: I only started traveling properly last year. A friend of mine said to me, “Give yourself three weeks.” First I thought it was weird advice, but when I was traveling there was so much to see and do I realized that I needed three weeks to just get used to everything. It was perfect advice, so that’s what I’d say to someone else.
What’s it like traveling with your friend?
N: It’s like you can see with other eyes. You get to share experiences and have something that’s just for the two of you.
T: You get to create memories together. It is more challenging to travel by yourself and there are things to love and hate about that. If you’re alone you can do whatever you feel like, but you can also get lonely. It’s a different way to travel, not better or worse, just different.
Why do you choose hostels?
N: This is actually my first time staying at a hostel! We picked this one because the price was really good and it seemed clean and that’s important. I like it, and I’m surprised that it’s quiet and that we had a bathroom in our room – that’s really nice!
T: I’ve stayed in hotels and hostels, and all the people who like to really travel stay in hostels. It’s easier to meet people especially because at hotels it’s usually couples and older people.
So what would you say to someone who was skeptical about staying at a hostel?
N: If you want to connect it’s extremely easy to meet people.
T: The main reason to stay is to meet people, and also the good price. I also feel if you’re in a hostel, you connect better to the locals because you’re not in the same places as hotels, so you get a better local experience.
What do you wish people knew about Switzerland?
T: Not all the people are narrow minded.
N: We’re nice!
T: And if you have time and the money go skiing.
N: Visitors come just for the skiing and hiking and then leave to another country, there’s more to it than just the mountains!
What are three things you can’t travel without?
N: Your passport, and I’d say good shoes are important…
T: And my Gameboy, that’s a good one. And we have some playing cards.
Hang out with travelers like Nadine and Tamara and book your stay at HI San Francisco City Center hostel on this site and save!