What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word “Hostel“?
Nasty? Dirty? Scary? Sketchy? Most likely one of these words.
Understandable. Hostels haven’t been depicted very well in the media. Especially in the US, since there aren’t as prevalent here. Hostels have come a long way within recent years. There are soooo many clean & safe hostels that provide one-of-a-kind experiences for an exceptionally low price – allowing you to put that money towards more travel in the future.
According to Dictionary.com, a Hostel is an establishment that provides inexpensive food and lodging for a specific group of people, such as students, workers, or travelers.
Basically, a Hostel is a budget accommodation option for travelers. You could be sharing a ‘dorm’ and bathroom with a number of people. I stayed in a hostel for the first time with EF College Break. I honestly didn’t know what a hostel was before that I signed up for that trip. When I told a friend that we’d be staying in hostels, she asked me if I was scared. I didn’t know if I should be, but I knew I was going on that trip either way! I didn’t care where I ended up sleeping. I wanted to travel that bad.
On the trip, we stayed in a variety of hostels & hotels. To my surprise, I liked the hostels much more than the hotels we stayed in. A few places were decent at best, but most places really impressed me. Despite sharing a room with 6 other people, I loved the atmosphere & it was clear that they catered to young travelers. I’ve intentionally stayed in a number of hostels since because of that atmosphere and the affordability. You’ll give up privacy, but you shouldn’t rule hostels out when you’re planning where to stay on your next trip.
Seriously, cheap. There are parts of the world that have hostels for as low as $1. Yes, ONE DOLLAR! If you’re on a budget, hostels are the best lodging option. You can spend your money on excursions and local food instead of a hotel room that you only plan to sleep in. Keep in mind, you’re sacrificing privacy and space for a place this cheap. Some people are not willing to give up their privacy, and that’s understandable. However, you can save a ton of money if you’re willing to make that sacrifice.
There are so many options to consider when booking a hostel. Do you want to share a room with 2 people or 20 people? Do you prefer staying in a female/male only dorm or a mixed dorm? Do you want to stay at a party hostel or a quiet hostel? Do you want to stay in the city center or off the beaten path? Do you want to stay in a luxury hostel or a yoga hostel? There are a ton of options to meet your wants & needs. Just be sure to read reviews before booking.
It’s important to know what you’re looking for so that you can have the best experience. I’ve used Hostelworld & Booking to search hostels and I always read plenty of reviews so I’m not disappointed when I arrive. Cleanliness & safety are a MUST. All hostels are NOT good hostels, so you should definitely read the reviews to avoid being in a sketchy or dirty place.
Hostels can be really fun. Some of the best hostels will offer free walking tours, theme nights, events, parties & more. Heck, many of the most recent hostels have provided welcome shots upon arrival. The idea is to create a sociable space for travelers. If you’re open to meeting others and joining in on the events, you’re bound to have a really good time. And this brings me to my next point….
You’ll meet the friendliest people in hostels. All it takes is a “hello! where are you from?” to get the conversation going. There are so many opportunities to meet people your age – in the lobby, in the kitchen, in the bar, in the hallways, and in your room! Most hostels hold community dinners and events so that you can get to know others. If you’re traveling alone but still want the option of making friends, hostels are your best bet! They are perfect for solo travelers who both enjoy being alone and meeting other people.
In Costa Rica, I ended up hanging out with two Isreali girls from my room simply because they started a conversation with me. I decided to hike Cerro Chato Volcano with them and I had so much fun! It’s the best way to meet other like-minded travelers.
If it feels like the person checking you in could be your best friend? You’ve chosen a good hostel.
Most hostels have multi-lingual staff on call 24/7. Staff members are usually fun, young, & informed. They’re locals that know the best places to eat & play. They know what crowd they’re catering to. Sure, they’ll provide you usual must-see sights, but they also know about that underground concert or market that you can’t find in a guidebook.
Every hostel is unique. Each has its own design and atmosphere. Often times, you’re staying in a repurposed or renovated building. You could be staying in a 200-year-old Arab Mansion , a Turkish Treehouse , or a Cappadocia Cave.
My hostel in Berlin used to be a school for fashion design and was declared a Berlin monument, surviving 2 world wars and 40 years of communism.
Contrary to popular belief, most hostels provide the same amenities as standard hotels – wifi, free breakfast, lounge areas, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, spas, and clubs. Tired of eating out and wearing the same jeans over & over? Use the communal kitchen to cook and the washroom to finally wash your clothes. You may be sacrificing privacy, but you’d be surprised to find out just how much some of these places have to offer.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m not big on traditional hotels. For the most part, they’re just BORING. Once I stayed in a good hostel and saw how great it could be, I was sold. I preferred the friendly & fun atmosphere. I loved being around like-minded travelers from around the world. Hostels are not for everyone. Some people would hate them and that’s okay too. But If you’re open to the idea, the affordability will give you the opportunity to use your money towards more important aspects of your trip. They’re perfect for anyone who is on a budget. If you do the proper research, you’re bound to find amazing hostels that impress you in many ways.
Hey, I'm Ciara. I’m a global citizen and lover of travel. Want to know more?
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