Staying in hostels can be a great way to travel the world, and many backpackers prefer to stay in this kind of accommodation, especially when they’re doing Budget Travel. Not only are they often cheaper, but they can also be more sociable, safer, and practical. However, staying in a hostel is not everyone’s idea of a dream holiday, and they certainly range from the good to the terrible. However, a stay in even the worst of hostels on the surface can easily turn into the trip of a lifetime at just the blink of an eye.

Pssst… did you know that a lot of families also consider staying in hostels during their trips? There is a bunch of good reasons to stay in one. Which ones? Find out here – how to handle the imperfect coupling, Family vacation and hostels.

The Advantages of Staying in Hostels

  • Price: Hostels are often much cheaper than hotels and they can be a great way to enable you to travel without having to spend big bucks.
  • Social: Hostels offer a more sociable environment providing a great opportunity to make new friends as you see the world (no worries, if you are the shy traveler who has some issues making friends. This is the guide for those who struggle to connect with other travelers!)
  • Food: The ability to cook your own food means that you can eat what you like, and save more money in the process.

The Disadvantages of Hostel life

  • Noise: The noise can certainly be an issue, and if you are a light sleeper, you are likely to find this particularly challenging.
  • Privacy: Staying in a hostel can be eye-opening as it is common for bedrooms and bathrooms to be shared. If you need your alone time, it may not be the right choice. Sharing rooms is certainly not for everyone, but many hostels these days do have private rooms available for a few extra bucks.
  • Curfew: Some Hostels have a curfew to ensure the safety and sleep of everyone staying there. Whilst this benefits everyone, it does have the potential to put a dampener on your night out.

However, with the world of travel ever-changing, even if you are put off by the challenges there is still likely to be a hostel for you somewhere. In fact, there are many different types of hostels and the trick is to pick the right one for you!

What do I need to consider when choosing a hostel?

outdoor and indoor picture of a cosy hostel
Find the perfect spot for you and your needs! For example in this amazing brazilian hostel.

Reviews, reviews, reviews: The most important thing to do before making your choice is to read the reviews online. Simply Google the hostel’s name and read their reviews to get an honest overview of what you are likely to expect. Even if there are minimal complaints, these reviews often also contain great nuggets of information regarding local attractions, getting around and even the best places to eat. What’s more, this will ensure that you can choose wisely to pick a hostel that is most suited to your needs.

The price

Obviously, the hostel that you pick will need to fit into your budget as a traveler. However, even if you are on a tight one, the cheapest room rates are not always actually the best deal. Sometimes for just a couple of dollars more, you can find a hostel that provides free breakfast, laundry service or places to cook and it can even work out cheaper in the long run.

If you are doing Budget Travel and your piggy bank is a little on the empty side, you can still have amazing vacations! Where and how? In Europe in these 10 super amazing cities (for example in Kiev!). Just check out our two-piece article series about cheap European holidays.

Aaaand this one on how to save some extra cash in Europe! Maybe you’ll even learn a few hints on the right season to go – or getting there in style *cough Eurail Pass *cough*

The location

Hostels are pretty much ubiquitous in this day and age, and the internet has made it so easy to find the closest and best option. If you are looking for a city break sightseeing, you may prefer a more central location or perhaps one nearer to the coast for a relaxing beach getaway. If you look at hostels on the outskirts of this city, they are often more affordable; even when you include the extra cost of public transport.

Mixed or same-sex dorms

This is a matter of personal preference, with same-sex dorms being increasingly popular. If shared rooms are not for you, many hostels offer single rooms if you are concerned about privacy.

As a female solo traveler on a budget travel mission maybe you feel like sharing a room with other ladies only? Eaaasy, a lot of hostels have same-sex dorms! Get 5 cool and easy tips to become a fabled badass solo female traveler here. Your next travel destination? Right around the corner 🙂

Safety and security

Hostels are particularly great for solo travelers as the social environment provides a lively atmosphere and a sense of safety that a hotel cannot.  At a hostel, you are likely to meet like-minded travelers who are often more than happy to join you as you explore. However, there are some precautions you can take just to be on the safe side. For example, not all hostels will have somewhere you can securely store your luggage and it might be wise to take a padlock for extra security. Another helpful (although impractical) option is a travel safe.

Facilities

You also need to think about the facilities that your hostel has available, and what is included in the room rates. Things like laundry service and a shared kitchen can be invaluable for a traveler on a budget. Remember, bathrooms may not be quite as spotless as what you are used to, take flip flops to wear in the showers.

Type of hostels

There are around 8 common types of hostels including cheap hostels, party hostels, action or adventure hostels, boutique or independent hostels, family hostels, youth hostels, eco-hostels, and 5-star options. The names are pretty self-explanatory, so just check the reviews online to ensure a perfect match.

Making friends

Hostels are a great way to make new friends, and they can provide you with the opportunity to stay in a social environment whilst you are traveling. They are ideal for making friends with other people in a similar situation, all you need to do is just go over and say hi!

What Should I Pack for My Hostel Stay?

Woman with packed backpack on a budget travel trip
Of course, your pack list depends on the destination, activity, duration, etc. But here are some essentials you’d better not forget!

Well, that will depend on your trip but some basic hostel essentials include:

  • Earplugs (believe us, get ’em packed!)
  • Headphones
  • Eye Mask
  • Travel Mug
  • Towel
  • Flip Flops (never forget them)
  • Electrical adaptor (remember to research which adaptor is right)
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Hanging Wash Bag
  • Laundry detergent (it could always come in handy)

Any Other Tips and Tricks on Budget Travel?

Clique playing a game in a hostel
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / GaudiLab

Ask the staff: The staff in hostels are often a font of wealth and knowledge about the local area and are bound to know the answer to your question.

Respect others: If you’re in a shared dorm, it is important to be considerate of the other guests. Making loud noises late into the night or first thing in the morning is not going to help you make friends.

Keep your belongings safe: If you are carrying cash, split up your money and store it in separate areas of your luggage and on your person.

Embrace the nap life: Getting your 40 winks in during the day will help you keep feeling refreshed, and most of the other guests will be out being a tourist at this point anyway.

Our extra tip for anyone who is on a really small travel budget? Why not travel and get paid for it? Find four tips on what could be right up your street (interested in working with photography or language?… here you go!).

Author

Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them then on a postcard?

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