Before this year, I never considered a hostel as an accommodation option when traveling. As pretentious as this is going to sound, I had really only considered hotels as the solitary way to go. Boy was I wrong (and I admit, sheltered). I was naïve to the backpacking scene.
I am now a 100% supporter and firm believer in the brilliance that is hostels.
These are the reasons why:
This is the ‘duh!’ reason. I mean, who doesn’t want to save money where they can? They are made for our (my) limited budgets. Everything you need is there but for a fraction of the price you would pay for a hotel – a bed, sheets (most of the time), power socket, a shower, Wi-Fi. That’s all you really need right? Most of them, of course, are decked out with a number of different facilities and usually have sick interiors to appeal to the younger backpacking crowd (washing facilities, common/chill rooms, bar, smoking room etc).
- Organised tours/activities
If you’re not a natural planner or forward thinker then… you need to re-evaluate your life. But if you’re traveling while this re-evaluation is happening, hostels will have you covered. Most will have a ton of information on what there is to do and see in the city you’re visiting. Most will have daily organised tours (sometimes twice a day) and a range of other activities that you can join like day trips to nearby cities/towns – usually free or at least certainly affordable *cough pub crawl cough*.
- Solo? No worries
This was the main way I met so many amazing people while traveling. Actually, it’s the number one reason why I love hostels altogether. You will never have to worry about being lonely but you also have the freedom of having ‘you’ time as well. Somehow, getting along with others happens so easily when you’re all travellers.
- International networking
Even if you’re traveling with someone else, it’s still a great way to make your trip more interesting. Hostels are filled with fellow travellers just like you from all corners of the world. If you really hit it off, you’ve pretty much got yourself free accom when you visit them in their country (remember the travellers community of trust I spoke about before?). I am by no means implying that you are using people. You are just embracing the world of hospitality.
- ‘Home’ cooked meal
Food is such a major expense when traveling. You’ll be surprised at just how much you spend to satisfy your cravings. I was certainly surprised. But then again, I do eat a lot…
A solid hostel will have a shared kitchen where you can cook for yourself. Do your groceries, cook your meals, hone your inner Masterchef. Can I also mention that ‘free breakfast‘ is a thing.
- More personal
A good hostel will feel like you’re at home. The staff will feel like family. It should feel like a home away from home. And if not, the staff will at least make you feel like you’ve been mates for years. Most of the time, they themselves are travellers who’ve decided to stay a little longer and saw that working at a hostel was the best option to stay. They get you. We’re all in the this together.
Since we’re on the topic, here is a list of my very favourite hostels (so far). Be sure to check them out if you happen to be visiting these cities. I promise they won’t disappoint!
- Yes! Lisbon Hostel *
- Wombats Hostel, Vienna *
- Generator Hostel, London *
- Bahaus Hostel, Istanbul
- Flying Pig Downtown, Amsterdam
- Giovanni’s Home, Naples
* These 3 hostels are part of 3 separate chains. Despite being part of chains, they still have that ‘personal feel’, don’t worry. In saying that, if you’re not visiting any of the cities I’ve mentioned, these chains might be in the cities that you are. Another good chain is St. Christopher’s Inn.
The easiest way I find hostels is through Hostelworld. Prices are readily available, all information is provided, ratings, location, facilities, photos, and of course, trusted reviews. Super easy to navigate.