Every year, roughly 80,000 travelers from at least ninety countries pass through the doors of HI New York City, the largest hostel in the Americas. Here are just some of their stories.

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Hostel People #11: I Could Feel Myself Getting Older. Something Had to Be Done.

An English engineer with a midlife crisis drives 6,500 miles through the American heartland—and sticks it out as the only old guy at the hostel.

Hostel People #10: The World’s Second-Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Card Player Is Hungry for Revenge

A would-be Kingslayer on finding a safe space in a crowded city for one extremely competitive and quirky new pastime.

Hostel People #9: Growing Up We Had Nothing and War Was Everywhere. Now I Travel the World and Have It All.

A small-town Serbian boy on dreaming big and living large…and eavesdropping on loud-talking New Yorkers.

Hostel People #8: The Skyscrapers Tried to Expel Me

An architecture student from Shanghai on why the buildings of New York have thoughts and feelings—and how that can be truly terrifying.

Hostel People #7: How This Botox Belle Became a Yogi Goddess of Liberation

A blissed-out divorcee on the joys of “Conscious Uncoupling,” learning to be selfish, and mother-daughter bonding on the NYC subway.

Hostel People #6: How the Vietnam War Prepared Me for the Appalachian Trail

A determined thru hiker on dodging bears and battling Lyme disease—and trekking across NYC.

Hostel People #5: The Lovely Luck of Being Pooped on by a Pigeon

A big-talking Spanish señora on the kindness of strangers, what it’s like to be the loudest snorer in a roomful of men, and how a fly-by bird-bombing made her day.

Hostel People #4: Oh, That Scar On My Forehead? Just a Little Run-in with a Livid Leopard.

A safari-guide-turned-world-traveler on brushes with beasts, and how the real New York compares to the Big Apple of the movies.

Hostel People #3: The First Time That Times Square Has Ever Stopped an Anxiety Attack

An Aussie post-grad on circling the globe, getting lost in New York, and the unexpected comfort of walking shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of strangers.