Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How To Stay In A Hostel

     So this article is particularly for the American audience, we don't really have very many hostels in America, which kind of sucks for tourists. I'm not quite sure why they never caught on, but when traveling aboard, especially solo or in smaller groups hostels are a great option! You will be spending $7 to $20 a night instead of $100 to $200 a night, you will have a bed to crash for the night, you will meet people, and you will not get abducted into a prostitution ring!!!

     Here's some basics to booking a hostel, and do's and do nots:

  • Booking online is easy, if your trip is pre-planned and dates are not flexible the days of looking up a hostel when you get there is no longer necessary, almost all major search engines now include hostels under their hotel links, it will say hostel instead of hotel and be about 80% cheaper.
  • Checking in is just like checking into a hotel, but once you are in the room you typically choose an available bed. Keep your stuff by your bed. When you use the bathroom don't take 2 hours to get ready, other people may be waiting.
  • Learn the act of being quiet at night, but social by day. I'm in the fire department full time, so I sort of stay in a hostel every time I go to work. You share a room and a bathroom with say 3 to 49 other people (usually 3-6 if it's a huge hostel it's a huge discount)... And you will know this beforehand! For Fiji my first night I was supposed to stay in the Pirates Dorm at Smugglers in Nadi, which was a 50 bed hostel, but got upgraded. I should also mention financially I would not have been able to do Fiji without going the hostel route, all hotels on all islands were way too expensive. Anyway, during the day you come in throw your stuff on your bed, and at night if you are stumbling in late remember other people are sleeping so just be quiet. I like to warn my flatmates ahead of time if I am leaving early, "Sorry guys but I've got to be up at 5am for a flight to the next country on my journey." No one cares. It's a hostel.
  • Safety: Ok so while it is not likely to be sold into prostitution you are staying with a few random strangers, your number one concern for crime is property crimes. I always bring a lock, and always try to book a hostel that has a locker, it will likely only be a small locker big enough for your day bag. I also never travel to hostels with lap tops or my iPad, I find internet cafes fun if I do need to look something up quick, and also don't like the extra baggage, I'm there to see another country, not browse facebook. Most hostels will also have some type of computer you can get on anyway. If I'm going to a pool or beach or something, my digital camera, and books may stay in the locker. The other major thing I do is sleep with my passport in my pocket. My clothes, large bag, and toiletries stay out of a locker under my bunk, they've never been stolen, theoretically I guess you could lock the bag to the bed, but honestly, no one wants to steal your dirty clothes.
  • Females: if you don't like the idea of sleeping in the same room with a bunch of guys you don't know, many hostels have female only dorms, you will know this before booking so be sure to make certain it is an option if it's something you want.

  • Always read reviews, this goes back to basics from How to Choose Your Hotel etc. Remember for a single traveler, a party hostel with bad reviews may be your best bet! But if you are going with your boyfriend/girlfriend and just want to save a few bucks The Crazy Train Rehab Sucks Hostel with attached bar and night club may not be the best bet.
  • Remember that when you take a shower and go, "Oh my God this is gross, someone else has used this shower today!!!!" Yeah, it's pretty likely that in the $300/night hotel just next door that someone else used that shower before you checked in. 
  • Make friends!!! Especially if you are traveling solo, the hostel is the mixer of international travel. Now you won't have to feel weird going to the bar that night by yourself, or you will have a mate to go check out the museum the next day with you. 
  • 3 or more people... consider the hotel route... Ok so while hostels are a great way to go, budget it out, once you start having larger groups, the hostel may no longer be the cheapest option (although for Fiji if I would have had a group of 15 the hostel would have still been the cheapest!). If you have 3 extremely social people that will not wake everyone up when you are all done partying then hostels may still be a good option. But generally, soley based on price, when you start having 3 or more, check hotel prices as well.
  • Out of personal preference, my last night I hotel it up. So for my next journey that will be Russia and western Europe, we've planned on some hotels, some hostels, but the last two nights in France will be a hotel. My last night I am typically up late, be it partying the last night or reflecting on what an awesome trip, I may have my sketch pad out or a note pad writing for this blog, or a ton of beer on board, so I prefer the hotel, or of course, you never know who else is staying there if you just wanted to go to sleep early, so consider a hotel for your last night, but by all means do not disregard the hostels!!!
Hope this info helps! Plus one the article or follow the blog if you enjoyed reading!


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