It blows my mind when people tell me they have never stayed in a hostel before! Some people don’t even know that they are a viable option. To me, it’s one of the best parts of traveling. I remember my first solo trip; I was in Bali, alone, and had NO IDEA how I was supposed to meet people. I would go out to dinner, sit at a table and just get lost in my phone…praying nobody (or maybe somebody) would approach me. I was so incredibly shy, I don’t even know what I would have said if someone tried to start a conversation! The anxiety was overwhelming. Luckily I was able to ease myself into my surroundings thanks to Girls Love Travel and handy dandy Tinder. (Yes, you can actually meet travelers on Tinder that don’t have an “agenda”…but we’ll get into that another day). Had I known about hostels before my trip to Bali, I would have made friends much easier and saved a significant amount of money!
- So, what exactly is a hostel? Think of it like a dorm. There are male and female only rooms, as well as co-ed and private rooms; depending on what you’re looking for. There’s shared bathrooms and communal living spaces, usually with a shared fridge/kitchen space, too, so be sure to write your name on your food! It’s basically like having built in roommates…in another country! Rooms can have anywhere from one bed (private) to as many as 10 beds, if not more. It all depends on the hostel and how much you are willing to spend!
- Isn’t it dirty? Just like hotels, some hostels can be dirty. Yes, sometimes I have shared rooms with people who have been outside sweating all day and didn’t think to take a shower. (The smell of sunscreen, sweat, and saltwater is very distinct). Sure, sometimes people will eat in the room and leave their dirty dishes laying around like they are at home, but 9 times out of 10, people are very aware and respectful of others in their surroundings. The common areas and bathrooms are almost never a problem, but always wear shower sandals just to be safe. Oh, and of course, do your research! If it was a bad experience, other travelers will definitely let you know!
3. Aren’t hostels for young people? What if I’m not into partying? Hey – I hear ya! Especially if you’re just getting in from a day of traveling, the last thing you want to do is be kept awake until 4 AM with music and drinking. Again, this boils down to DO YOUR RESEARCH! There are party hostels, some that even have a bar attached. But there are also hostels that cater to an older crowd. Ones that require quiet time beginning at 11 PM – beauty rest, anyone? It’s all about knowing where to look. Even if you book yourself into a “traditional” party hostel, they usually have earplugs available at no cost. (You never know when you’re going to be sleeping next to someone who snores, so it’s good to snag a pair just in case!) You can also request to be in a “quieter” room, if that’s your preference. Hostels are always willing to do what they can to accommodate you.
4. What should I expect upon checking in? Most hostels are manned 24/7, just like hotels, in order to accommodate guests arriving at all hours. You will usually be assigned to a room, get a key, and be given a rundown of the area. Linens are always changed after each guest, so rest assured that you’ll be sleeping in a clean bed. Depending on the hostel, you may have to pay a small deposit for a towel for the shower (some hostels give it for free) and a lock for your belongings.
5. Will my things be safe? Hostels always try to keep your belongings protected, but it’s your responsibility more than theirs. With so many travelers in and out of an area, yes, things can tend to get swiped when you’re not looking. As most travelers know, there can be shady characters anywhere. Take full advantage of any lockers that may be offered on the premises, and of course, always keep an eye on your belongings. Don’t leave anything valuable lying around in the common areas, or it may not be there when you come back! It’s always a good idea to have a small travel lock on your luggage as well.
Running low on money? Hostels are a great alternative! Some hostels even offer work exchange programs! A few hours of work per day/week in exchange for accommodation. Usually it’s something simple like cleaning, making beds, or bartending. It isn’t always advertised, though (of course they would rather have people pay!) but shoot them an email to ask if that is something they might offer. Check out the hostels that I’ve done work exchange for here:
– Globetrotters Hostel (Cairns, Australia)
– Hostel Fish (Denver, Colorado)
What are some of the best hostels you’ve ever stayed in? Leave a comment below or message me, I’d love to check them out in my travels!
Be sure to check HostelWorld now to find great hostels within your travel dates!