I get it. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel the thought of doing so can be a little nerve wrecking. I am here to tell you that you have nothing to fear. In fact, I have personally converted a few highly skeptical travelers into hostel lovers. They are a fantastic way to save money and meet new people during your travels. Unless I am traveling with a larger group, I mostly choose to stay in hostels. The right hostels are clean, cheap, and full of other young travelers. I have made friends at hostels that I am still in touch with, found people to grab a quick bite with, and do some sightseeing with.
But is it safe? Will I have my privacy?
Most hostels have a variety of room options depending on your preferred privacy level and they are priced accordingly. You can stay in a room with other people of the same gender, a room with mixed gender, or a private room. During my experience, everyone has been respectful and has minded my privacy. If I shared a room with 10 other people, I’d simply change and get ready for bed in the restroom, I’d take any call in the common area, etc. That being said, always be careful with your valuables. Hostels usually have lockers so that you can securely lock away anything of value. Always have a lock for your suitcase as well. Better safe than sorry!
How to Find the Best Hostel for Your Trip
- Start by doing your research of the area. What area of the city do you want to stay in? Do you want to be close to the nightlife? Do you want to be close to the attractions? If you want to party, for example, search “best party hotels in CITY NAME”, or most central, etc. Be sure to read people’s reviews and check out the ratings
- Once you have completed your preliminary research, search for hostels on a site such as hostelworld.com. It has a great inventory, good search interface, and up to date availability.
- Besides making sure that your hostel is in your desired location, be sure to check the ratings and reviews. The best indication of what the hostel is like is other guests and their experiences. Make sure it is rated high on all factors that are important to you: security, location, cleanliness, etc. I recommend looking beyond the overall rating and checking the individual category ratings as well. I typically only book hostels that are an 8.5 and above overall rating and then I take a look at the individual ratings as well to make sure none of them are too low
- Make sure you know how to get to your hostel. I always print out directions to the hostel I’m staying at in advance to avoid any complications. Use google maps and see what your different options are. Maybe an uber/cab is the best bet or maybe it’s very easy to get to via public transportation, further saving you some money
- A towel – I recommend a fast drying one so that you don’t have to put a wet towel back into your suitcase. If you forget one, most hostels will allow you to rent one for a fee. To avoid the hassle, just pack one of your own
- Flip flops for the shower
- A padlock – some lockers have their own combination system but just in case it is good to bring a lock for yourself
- Locks for your suitcase and any other bags
- Earplugs – you are sharing a room with others so if you are a light sleeper, I highly recommend bringing some earplugs as people will be going in and out of the room at all hours
- Eyemask – using the same logic as above, people may turn on the lights when you are sleeping. This doesn’t always happen but in case it does, bring an eye mask so you aren’t disturbed
Other Tips to Make Sure You Have the Best Hostel Experience
- Hostels have strict check in and check out times but they are very gracious and usually allow you to stow your bags so you can get a head start on exploring. Just make sure your bags are locked up and you are good to go
- Take advantage of the reception desk. They are usually manned by friendly locals or other travelers who are well educated about the city. They can give you great advice about the city and may even have a map with the best sites marked for you. Often, there are free walking tours leaving from or near the hostel. I highly recommend looking into these tours as they are a great way to get an overview of the city.
- It’s important to have your stuff organized. It is not only convenient but also efficient. I usually have out my sleeping clothes and toiletries on top so that I don’t have to go through my things while others are sleeping.
- MAKE FRIENDS! Just do it. Go down to the hostel main area, check out the bar, or simply talk to the other people in your room. You’ll have a group to check out the nightlife with and even go sightseeing with. You never know who you will meet. I met some awesome friends in Bocas del Toro, Panama and by our last night we were making a family dinner together in the kitchen.
- Take advantage of the kitchen. If you are traveling for a long time, you can cut down on your expenses by cooking a few meals for yourself.
- As always, be smart and aware of your surroundings. Just like any other traveling situation, trust your gut instinct!
- Be open minded. Hostels can be a great way to save you some money and help you travel longer. You’ll get to meet like minded people and have a fun time exploring the city!
If you’re looking to save some money or have company on your travels, hostels are for you! Had a great hostel experience? Have some tips to share? Comment below!
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