Upon turning 30 today, travel blogger Nicholas Johnson-Winkerberg has reluctantly accepted the mantle of being that creepy older guy at every hostel he visits from now on.
Despite having spent the past decade feeling sorry for such travellers, Johnson-Winkerberg has now entered that awkward age when he’s too young to stop travelling, but far too old to be spending his Tuesday nights in a 12-bed dorm with drunk teenagers on their gap years. As a result, his unsettling presence brings the mood down wherever he goes.
Johnson-Winkerberg, though, doesn’t realise this. He continues to try and connect with a generation of travellers who increasingly see him as a pathetic has-been.
“I remember the days of travelling before free Wi-Fi,” Johnson-Winkerberg told a common room full of 19-year-olds who were glued to their smartphones and could not give a single fuck. “We used to sit around the table playing card games and chatting all night long. It was such great fun!”
“Back in those days, all we needed to entertain ourselves was a few low-carb beers, a good Hi-Fi sound system, and an iPod shuffle loaded with plenty of Panic! At The Disco and Vampire Weekend,” he added, embarrassing himself. “And before we moved on to the next destination in our Lonely Planet guidebook, we’d make sure to friend each other on MySpace.”
When an overly confident Dutch teenager wearing an unironic moustache and glasses with no lenses asked why a grandpa like him was still hanging out at hostels, Johnson-Winkerberg got oddly defensive.
“I choose to stay at hostels because it’s a fun way to meet people. The fact that it costs one-fifth as much as a hotel room is just a bonus,” he lied, dramatically downplaying the dire state of his bank balance.
Shortly afterwards, Johnson-Winkerberg accidentally smiled at one of the hostel’s female guests. The blonde, who was born in the year 2000, immediately burst into laughter. She then retreated to her room and sent 12 Insta DMs to her bestie in Austria describing how gross it was that the creepy older guy was hitting on her.