As fun and eye opening as travel is, it isn’t the cheapest thing to do. And this is especially true for accommodation, which is usually your biggest outlay on the average trip (often more than the travel). So this is where hostels come into play.
If you’re planning to travel and want a cheap place to stay, you’ve probably noticed hostels or dorms as an option. Should you get a budget hotel room? Or is enjoying a travel hostel something you might enjoy?
Well, as veterans of a fair few hostel stays in our time, we think we can give some sound advice to surviving hostels – and even enjoying them!
A hostel is a great budget option
A travel hostel is a hotel for budget-minded travelers. They’re usually not as fancy as a hotel, and the rooms are usually shared with other travelers. But.. If you want to save money on your trip, this is a great way to go.
But there are some disadvantages to bear in mind that might influence whether book a hostel.
- The lack of privacy can be uncomfortable for some people
- Sharing space with other travelers can be noisy and distracting – especially as some people don’t have a filter
- Sometimes security is not the best, with some people choosing to use locks to secure their stuff
- At night you get to listen to everyone snoring. If you’re a light sleeper, be prepared!
- If you’re travelling as a couple, you won’t be able to enjoy ‘couple time’ – at least not in the bedroom 😉
But with all that being said, there are benefits to the hostel life too.
- Great for meeting other travelers and the social life. Many people choose hostels just for this option
- Many hostels have shared kitchen facilities and a lounge or rec area, so you can cook and chill out if you like
- Hostels often also have cool extras like cheap bike hire, foosball tables, free wifi, free food nights or party nights
- The most important thing is – they are often the cheapest accommodation option, by far…
Hostels are often well located
Many hostels are located in popular tourist areas, often close to all the major attractions in your destination. As such they are often great for short stays or backpackers.
And because they’re cheap, and well located, you often end up sharing your hostel dorm room with a mixture of travelers from around the world.
And because of their location, hostels can attract long stay travellers too. You will often encounter someone who is staying at a hostel for weeks, months… Sometimes even years. Yes, really!
Hostel dorm life is fun
If you’re looking to meet new people and experience the world in a way that allows you to travel light, then hostels are for you.
Because everyone is in the same situation, traveling to a new place on a budget, there is often a very open and social environment. Even if you are the shy type, you will likely find yourself coming out of your shell in the hostels you visit.
In fact, when travelling for an extended trip, you might come to enjoy the hostels as a destination themselves. The social buzz, the atmosphere and the thrill of meeting new people quickly becomes one of the more memorable aspects of the trip.
And because you’re all mixed up in the same dormitory, the camaraderie is often effortless.
These rooms can be all-males, all-females or mixed gender. They can also be open to all ages or only adults. Some hostels even provide single occupancy dorm rooms as well as double occupancy ones.
Self catering, or kitchen access
You may have heard that hostels offer cheap accommodation and communal kitchens. But what does this mean for you?
To be clear, not every hostel features a kitchen area. But they do almost always have an area to prep food and get water, and do your dishes. At best, the communal kitchen might feature multiple cooking surfaces and prep area, plus sinks, fridges and shared food shelves.
At worst, you might have a small corner with a kettle, microwave and toaster. You will probably be relieved to hear that the former is most common – but it is worth checking first.
Access to a kitchen does of course mean you can keep costs down even more on your travels. By self catering, you can save money on food and stretch your travel budget further.
Also, most hostel hosts offer clean dishes, cups and glasses, dishwashing liquid and sponges at each sink station. Remember to clean up after yourself!
The hostel age limit is usually 18 years old
You can stay in a hostel if you’re 18 years old, but some hostels may accept children when accompanied by an adult. Children usually must be at least 10 years old to stay in a hostel.
Private rooms are often available
Some hostels offer private rooms if you want more privacy than a dorm room, but they’re usually more expensive.
Private rooms might offer more privacy and be quieter than their dorm-mate counterparts. But they don’t necessarily provide the hotel room experience you might be hoping for. While there’s no one in your room, it’s still possible for people to see into your window or hear you through the walls of your room—especially in older buildings that aren’t soundproofed properly.
Some hostel also offer RV parks or camping
In some parts of the world, the hostels also offer RV parks or camping sites where you can stay. Australia, the USA, South Africa and some parts of Europe can be great places to explore camping or van life using hostels. There might also be BBQ facilities too.
Camping at a hostel is a great way to meet other travelers, save money and experience new things.
Cheap and fun
People will often choose hostels primarily based on their budget. But they quickly adjust because hostel life is just so much fun. This is especially true for solo travellers, single female travellers, first time travellers or people who are looking for the security of being around other people.
If you’re travelling in an expensive area, for example travelling in Europe, then it can really bring the cost down. By spending just a few $20-30 a night, vs $60-70 (at least) you’ll have more money to do the fun stuff.
You’ll find hostels as an accommodation option on most booking websites. Simply filter by shared accommodation, hostels or lowest price.
Sites such as booking.com feature hostels.
However the best site to book a travel hostel is HostelWorld. This has been the go to hostel booking site for budget travellers and backpackers for years…
Run a search for your hostel on our widget below.