Sometimes, you just have to get a little comfortable being uncomfortable.
My friends and I booked a hostel called The Tent for our three days in Munich, and I just figured it would be the typical hostel experience. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I went there with three friends and left with dozens more from across the world. From New Zealand to Bulgaria to Canada to Missouri, unique people from unique worlds all converged around a campfire, beers in hand with endless stories to tell.
My first night at The Tent was a Friday night. I got there late, around 10:45 PM and immediately chugged a liter of beer. The 4.40 euro beers here are definitely among the cheapest you’ll find in all of Munich, and they serve food until 11:00 PM, so it’s an amazing place to pregame. Not even an hour later, myself and about twenty other people who we managed to gather from around the campsite were on our way to a club together. We were all strangers to each other literally a few minutes ago.
You will be surrounded with young travelers who all have similar mindsets: laid-back, enthusiastic and with a reckless hunger to see the world. Every conversation starts out the same. “Oh where are you from? How long are you here? Where are you going next?”
But every conversation is unique and will leave you feeling fulfilled (and slightly more cultured and wiser than you were before). The weekend was a strange series of emotions. From the almost laughable uncertainty at what The Tent is going to bring to you, to the excitement as you speak to dozens of new people, to the emotional goodbyes to the people who were a quick but meaningful flash in a pan in your life. Some of the relationships you form just make you think, “damn, where have you been all my life?” From budding entrepreneurs to expert vagabonds to professional beard growers (seriously), you will meet all sorts of intriguing characters.
If you stay at the tent and keep to yourself, then the dirt-cheap 12 euros you spend to stay there per night are going to waste. You’re not going to enjoy sharing a giant room with 100 people. You’re not going to enjoy having to brave the elements every night when you are in bed. You’re not going to enjoy the communal showers with nonexistent water pressure. But travelers do not go on trips seeking comfort, they seek adventure. Every conversation you have is beyond what money can provide. For all the inconveniences and discomforts that you may have at The Tent, all of them will be overshadowed by even just one conversation. Everyone has a story to tell or advice to offer, whether it is about where to travel next, where to go out that night, or even what to get for dinner.
Socializing while traveling may be hard because you may feel like an outsider in a foreign country, but The Tent basically throws you into a pit of outsiders and forces you to step out of your comfort zone. I mean, you’re sleeping under one tent with up to 100 other people. How much further out of your comfort zone do you need to be?
If someone offered me a free night at Munich’s finest hotel, I would pick The Tent ten times out of ten. As I’ve mentioned again and again, the best part of traveling is not seeing the cool buildings and the cool views. It is the people you meet on your adventures, and no other hostel or lodging has ever given me the opportunity to meet as many people as The Tent has.
Thanks for the memories, The Tent.