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8 People You're Guaranteed To Meet While Travelling Or Backpacking In Europe

The 8 People You'reTo Meet In Europe
Tom Merton via Getty Images

Meeting people in Europe is like stepping into a Wes Anderson film: everyone’s a little bit crazy, but with great shoes and rapier wit.

If you’re fortunate enough to meet such a motley crew, you’ll find you’re a different person around them, too. That's because when you meet the right friends abroad, you do things you wouldn’t do at home in a million years – like dance on a beer-streaked table to “Whistle,” which you specifically requested – and that's okay.

What you might notice as you make your way around Europe is that you’ll run into similar folks. Not to say you won’t meet incredibly unique individuals who might change your life forever, but depending on how long you’re gone, the quirky traits of your fellow travellers eventually become hilarious and mildly offensive stereotypes. To help prepare, here are some popular characters that have been known to crop up in Europe:

The Writer
It’s inevitable you’ll meet at least one insufferable writer on your trip. They’ll be the ones keeping you up at night in the hostel with the glow of their iPad, updating a travel blog only their parents read. They'll sit quietly next to you at dinner, scribbling away in a grubby notebook.

They’ll ask you a million questions about yourself and when you try to get away, they’ll insist on tagging along, for the sole purpose of adding “colour” to their novella. Don’t even think about asking them out to dinner: you can’t have a single meal with them without every dish being tweeted about.

Why you should be friends: You could get a special shoutout in their e-book.
The Grandparents
Europe isn’t just for millennials, you know. It’s host to tourists of all ages, including adorable grandparents (and some cantankerous ones, too). You’ll generally find them with a larger tour group, but if you end up next to them in line somewhere, they’re usually the friendliest people to chat with. And after spending so much time with backpackers your age, sometimes it’s nice to talk with people in sensible shoes, who don’t know what "YOLO" stands for.

Why you should be friends: You can bet they’re having a totally different experience of Europe than you are, and it’s important to get another perspective of a city. Plus, when they say they’ll look after your stuff while you go swimming, they won’t rob you.
The Career Backpacker
You may think you’ve got street cred as a backpacker, but you haven’t made it until you've met someone who can’t remember what their parents look like. The career backpacker has made a life out of travelling.

This group of vagabonds has been on the road forever and has the bulging bag with mud-caked shoes and sleeping pads hanging off the sides to prove it. (Not to mention a battered copy of Emerson’s Nature somewhere in there.) Man, do they make unemployment look glamorous.

Why you should be friends: They always know where to find cheap eats, and share genuinely interesting travel stories. Just be warned: they will surely crash on your couch for two weeks if you say “come visit.”
The Free Spirit
If you get a whiff of patchouli and a face-full of dreadlock, you’ve officially met the Free Spirit. Rocking the Mumbai-imported harem pant and drug rug combo, this easy-going soul is there to spend as little money as possible – five Euros a day, max. They’re there to just, you know, take it all in. I mean, why join a queue for a world-class art gallery when you can chill in a piazza strumming a ukulele?

Why you should be friends: Throw away your Lonely Planet, man. Let love be your guide. The universe has your back.
The Hot Europeans
Europeans know pasty North Americans have nothing on them – it’s hard to get a tan in a polar vortex. So be prepared because they’ll lay on the charm, run a hand through a perfectly coiffed hairstyle (assiduously blown-out for two hours) and say all the sweet, incomprehensible words the sullen hipsters back home won’t ever touch. Before you know it, you’ll be quitting your job and buying property in Sardinia.

Why you should (just) be friends: Because even though they may look like model for Louis Vuitton, you would still miss beards, plaid and irony way too much.
The North American
If you hear loud and impassioned complaints about how a menu isn’t in English, the source will usually be either Canadian or American. While some of us do everything humanly possible to distance ourselves from the “ignoramus” label, you’ll meet others – the brand new Birkenstocks and a beige vest with a million pockets are dead giveaways – who refuse to speak a word of the native language or make friends with anyone who’s not chowing down on a cheeseburger.

Why you should be friends: If you look past the egos, North Americans are polite and friendly, and if you ever need a helping hand, they’ll be the first to offer.
The Graduate
After maintaining a 90 per cent average through high school while holding down a part-time job at A&W to save for a Euro trip, this fresh-faced grad is going buck wild. Waking up at 3 p.m. every day, weary from last night’s bender, the graduate sees one tourist attraction (if they’re lucky) before bee-lining to the bar. Don't judge: they worked extremely hard to do exactly what they do at home in Europe.

Why you should be friends: They will inevitably lose their passport and get robed a few times, but if you’ve met your limit of Caravaggio for the day, they’ll happily help drink away that Renaissance fatigue.
The Australian On Walk-About
The problem with being down under is that you’re bloody far from, well, everything. To save time and money, many Australians save up and go on epic, months-long journeys around the globe. Wherever you happen to be, you really can’t miss them. In their deep V-necks and neon Ray-Bans, they’re invariably the life of the party (and the seven others that'll follow afterwards).

Within five minutes of meeting, even the shyest Australian (is there such a thing?) will Facebook friend you and send over the plan for the evening, which usually involves getting black-out drunk.

Why you should be friends: Everyone needs a friendly Australian BFF.

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