Ever since we started traveling, hostels have been our preferred accommodations for several reasons. As young backpackers traveling to see the world, the cheap accommodation and social atmosphere of a hostel is exactly what we look for.
WHERE TO BOOK
We always book our hostels using HostelWorld.com because it’s easy and convenient. There are other benefits to using HostelWorld – free cancelation within 7 days, they only require a 10% deposit when you book, and they provide a ton of information, including helpful reviews, on the hostels available so you can make the best decision for your trip.
If you are more of a spontaneous traveler, you can always arrive at a hostel and book at the front desk too.
THE ROOM OPTIONS
There are usually several different room options to choose from when booking a hostel.
The cheapest option will be a mixed dorm style room. These rooms will be bunkbeds that sleep males and females with a shared bathroom. Usually there will be a bathroom for males and one for females. The next cheapest option is often a dorm style room divided by male and female. In both dorm style rooms, you will have a locker available to lock up your valuables.
With these dorm style rooms, they specify the number of beds in the room, so the cheapest options will be the mixed dorm room with the most amount of beds.
The nicest option – still more affordable than a hotel room – will be the Private Room options. If we have the budget to spend, we typically opt for a 2 person private room. It may have a private bath, but often it is shared.
A private room is nice because you don’t have to worry about putting your things in a locker when you leave or disturbing anyone when you arrive late or leave early. You still get the benefits of staying in a hostel, such as group tours and events and the common areas where you are able to meet and socialize with fellow like minded travelers.
WHAT TO EXPECT
The social scene is what draws most travelers to staying in hostels. We have met some of our best friends from staying in hostels!
Hostels will always have a common area, sometimes this includes a restaurant, bar, games, couches, and work areas. Most hostels also organize group tours or events which is great for exploring the new city and making new friends. Don’t be shy! If you step out of your comfort zone to do a group activity or hang out in the common area to meet people, it will change your entire experience.
Hostels sometimes also have a shared kitchen available to use during your stay. This is really convenient, especially if you are staying for a long period of time. Making your own food is a huge money saver and also provides the comfort of being able to cook meals for yourself instead of eating out for every meal.
If you are staying in a shared room, you should be considerate of other people in the room. This means being quiet when coming in late or getting up early. We’ve had situations where we had to leave as early as 4:00 AM to catch a flight, so we let the other girls in our room know the night before and had everything ready to go so we weren’t turning on lights and shuffling around at that hour.
If you are worried about leaving your things in a room where other people are staying, just treat other people’s things like you would want yours treated. Keep your bed and and belongings tidy and only in your space and you won’t have a problem. We never have.
All hostels will have lockers in your room. They won’t be large enough to fit your entire backpack or suitcase, so you’ll want to just put your valuables in the locker, such as: passport, laptop, camera, money, and anything else that is of value to you.
Be smart about what you take with you when you go sightseeing or adventuring. You don’t want to take too much with you in case you happen to lose your bag or have something stolen. If you are traveling with a large amount of cash, leave half in your locker and bring only what you need for the day.
Location is key when it comes to hostels. A good central location will not only be extremely convenient when it comes to exploring the new city, but you will also feel more safe. HostelWorld is very clear about the location of hostels and provides directions, so be sure to read all the information before booking.
WHAT TO BRING
Padlocks: For your locker in your room as well as your luggage.
Ear plugs: Snoring is a real issue if you are staying in a shared room. Better to come prepared than lose sleep.
Towel: We always travel with a small, fast drying towel (you can buy one for $10-$15 on amazon.com). Hostels may provide a towel, have towels for rent, or expect you to bring your own. Make sure you read up on what your hostel provides before arriving.
Flip Flops: for the shared shower.
Headphones: If you want to listen to music or watch a movie in the room, you will want to use headphones.
Toiletries: Hostels don’t provide the same things as hotels so be sure to bring shampoo, soap, toothpaste, hairdryer, etc.