Okay, so you might have heard the horror stories about staying in a hostel: the stolen backpacks, the bedbugs, the bed that was supposed to be available but then, for whatever reason, once you get there, is suddenly and mysteriously no longer available and you’re out of luck, with nowhere to stay…
Ahem…negative experiences aside, staying in a hostel is great nearly all of the time. Really. Sure, if you’re looking to be pampered, staying in a hostel might not be the ideal. But for the budget traveler, staying in a hostel can be a truly wonderful experience. Of course, the best way to ensure that you don’t experience any of the above traumas is to do a bit of research beforehand.
Here’s some more information about staying in a hostel during your next trip.
What is a hostel? And why should I stay in one?
If you’re like some people I know, you read the above paragraph asking yourself “So what is a hostel, anyway? Aside from the inclusion of the letter ‘s’ how is it any different from a hotel?” A hostel is different from a hotel in, well–a lot of ways. For one thing, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper, sometimes running as cheap as $10 a night.
For another, a hostel typically has dorm rooms with several beds as opposed to private rooms, as in a hotel. While this might not appeal to some people, for the adventurous and social travelers, this is actually a benefit!
Hostels allow you to get to know other travelers–especially appealing if you’re traveling solo. And hey, you might even be exposed to new and exciting hobbies. One time when I stayed in a hostel, I met a man who was a fire breather!
Picking a hostel & making a reservation
When picking a hostel make sure you consider price, location, and what you want to get out of your stay. Some hostels are known for being “party hostels,” so if partying late into the night isn’t your thing, stay away! Check online at places like HostelWorld for reviews to see whether or not the hostel you’re considering might be a place you’d like to stay.
You can reserve a hostel online in advance, or you can be daring and just show up, hoping there’s a bed available. In big cities, there are tons of hostels, so it’s common to wander around until you find a room. However, keep in mind that some of the best hostels will be booked ahead of time, so you might want to make reservations as soon as you can.
-Make sure to lock up your belongings. Never, ever leave your valuables laying around.
-When you check in, the kind people at the front desk will likely ask to hold onto your passport as a form of deposit. Don’t deny–this is a common practice!
-Bring a sleep sheet. While most hostels have clean bedding, a lot of people feel more comfortable bringing their own.
-Last but not least, whatever you do, do NOT watch the movie “Hostel” before you go! It’s not at all like the real thing!