A huge fear for first time travellers is the dreaded sound of hostels associated with cheap living. Horrific living environment, dirty beds, and a lack of privacy? Wrong!
Throughout my travels I have stayed in a countless number of hostels. This particularly applies for slightly more expensive countries to live, for instance, Korea, Singapore and Japan.
Hostels will usually consist of 6-10 beds in a single dorm with a common choice of a mixed gendered dorm or a same gender one. Are these hostels a justified nightmare? I think not. Throughout my years travelling I have come to prefer hostels to hotels for many reasons.
1. MONEY MONEY MONEY. The inevitable reason people come to hostels in the first place is because it can be a saviour for your bank account. Starting from £2-3 a night and rarely going above £15 a night. This can make ALL of the difference when you’re living abroad for a long period of time on a limited budget.
2. PEOPLE. Some of the greatest friends worldwide I have come to meet in hostels. The vast majority of the people you share rooms with are travellers like yourself, also eager to make new friends to enjoy their experiences with. This is enhanced by the community lounge areas provided which allow you to interact with fascinating people and make connections you couldn’t easily make elsewhere. This creates a ‘family feel’ which can be an emotional relief when you’re travelling alone because often you don’t realise how much you missed close human contact.
3. FACILITIES. I would be lying if I said that every hostel I have stayed in has been 5* quality. However, generally facilities in hostels are clean, and kept extremely tidy by the people staying there. Kitchens are provided with cookers, microwaves, usually free drinking water.
Once again, they often include shared lounge areas with comfortable furniture and televisions. (Many hostels I have stayed in end the night with a Netflix movie in the lounge). Generally the facilities are easily accessible than those in hotels as they cater for long term travellers.
4. EASY ADVENTURE. Hostels know that their consumers are mostly travellers, therefore they have readily available tours and top tips for exploring the surrounding area. In Vietnam, my backpackers hostel booked my tour to Halong Bay at a discounted price and made my aims and ambitions easy and hassle free.
5. FREE BREAKFAST. 9 out of every 10 hostels I have stayed in always provide a free breakfast. This is more important than it seems at first glance because it sets you up with a filling meal for the day. Saving you time finding somewhere to eat, and again MONEY on buying big meals every day.
So… despite the occasional snorer in the room hostels are the absolute best experiences just in themselves! Particularly when you’re travelling far due to the diverse guests they attract.
To ensure you enjoy this unique experience enhancing your travelling further, I suggest you follow these top 3 tips when booking a hostel..
1. ALWAYS READ REVIEWS. I cannot stress this enough, my hostel experiences have not been completely down to my Irish luck. Put the work in and read recent reviews from a variety of guests before you go ahead and book the cheapest you can find! Trip advisor is good for this, as is booking.com.
2. INTERACT! Be open, and friendly. Make an effort to talk to people and get to know about their interests, travels, country and culture. It forms immediate bonds with people in the same shoes as you and makes your experience of travelling even more unforgettable. Often hostels arrange to go clubbing together or host beer nights in the lounge areas etc. Being able to share your experiences with people is the key to a properly fulfilled time.
3. THINK AHEAD. Every hostel I have stayed in applies extra charges as standard to the borrowing of towels. I learnt very quickly that this can really increase the price of your stay. Therefore, I opted for buying a cheap, small towel from the market which I can wash and reuse for my entire trip. Food is another key factor. Buying a box of cereal and a carton of milk can save you a ton of money whilst travelling which can be spent instead on attr
actions and activities. As can buying a loaf of bread to toast or some packages of noodles. The longer you are travelling the less realistic eating out every day becomes, despite the great feeling it gives. Every hostel with a kitchen provides cups, plates, and all necessary cooking facilities. So make the most of it!
Overall, I would recommend hostels to travellers who want an authentic experience. So exit the safety bubble of costly and secluded hotels and open your mind. Don’t miss out on the hostel experience!