This is what happens when you book a last-minute flight to London and meet up with strangers from the internet
What's the first word that comes to mind when you hear the word "Hostel"?
Nasty? Dirty? Scary? Sketchy? Most likely one of these words.
Understandable. Hostels haven't been depicted very well in the media. Especially in the US, since there aren't as prevalent here. Hostels have come a long way within recent years. There are soooo many clean & safe hostels that provide one-of-a-kind experiences for an exceptionally low price - allowing you to put that money towards more travel in the future.
What is a Hostel?
According to Dictionary.com, a Hostel is an establishment that provides inexpensive food and lodging for a specific group of people, such as students, workers, or travelers.
Basically, a Hostel is a budget accommodation option for travelers. You could be sharing a 'dorm' and bathroom with a number of people. I stayed in a hostel for the first time with EF College Break. I honestly didn't know what a hostel was before that I signed up for that trip. When I told a friend that we'd be staying in hostels, she asked me if I was scared. I didn't know if I should be, but I knew I was going on that trip either way! I didn't care where I ended up sleeping. I wanted to travel that bad.
On the trip, we stayed in a variety of hostels & hotels. To my surprise, I liked the hostels much more than the hotels we stayed in. A few places were decent at best, but most places really impressed me. Despite sharing a room with 6 other people, I loved the atmosphere & it was clear that they catered to young travelers. I've intentionally stayed in a number of hostels since because of that atmosphere and the affordability. You'll give up privacy, but you shouldn't rule hostels out when you're planning where to stay on your next trip.
Here are 7 reasons why:
1. They are Cheap
Seriously, cheap. There are parts of the world that have hostels for as low as $1. Yes, ONE DOLLAR! If you're on a budget, hostels are the best lodging option. You can spend your money on excursions and local food instead of a hotel room that you only plan to sleep in. Keep in mind, you're sacrificing privacy and space for a place this cheap. Some people are not willing to give up their privacy, and that's understandable. However, you can save a ton of money if you're willing to make that sacrifice.
2. Your Options are Endless
There are so many options to consider when booking a hostel. Do you want to share a room with 2 people or 20 people? Do you prefer staying in a female/male only dorm or a mixed dorm? Do you want to stay at a party hostel or a quiet hostel? Do you want to stay in the city center or off the beaten path? Do you want to stay in a luxury hostel or a yoga hostel? There are a ton of options to meet your wants & needs. Just be sure to read reviews before booking.
It's important to know what you're looking for so that you can have the best experience. I've used Hostelworld & Booking to search hostels and I always read plenty of reviews so I'm not disappointed when I arrive. Cleanliness & safety are a MUST. All hostels are NOT good hostels, so you should definitely read the reviews to avoid being in a sketchy or dirty place.
3. They're a Lot of Fun
Hostels can be really fun. Some of the best hostels will offer free walking tours, theme nights, events, parties & more. Heck, many of the most recent hostels have provided welcome shots upon arrival. The idea is to create a sociable space for travelers. If you're open to meeting others and joining in on the events, you're bound to have a really good time. And this brings me to my next point....
3. You'll Make Friends from Around the World
You'll meet the friendliest people in hostels. All it takes is a "hello! where are you from?" to get the conversation going. There are so many opportunities to meet people your age - in the lobby, in the kitchen, in the bar, in the hallways, and in your room! Most hostels hold community dinners and events so that you can get to know others. If you're traveling alone but still want the option of making friends, hostels are your best bet! They are perfect for solo travelers who both enjoy being alone and meeting other people.
In Costa Rica, I ended up hanging out with two Isreali girls from my room simply because they started a conversation with me. I decided to hike Cerro Chato Volcano with them and I had so much fun! It's the best way to meet other like-minded travelers.
5. They Have the Best Local Staff
If it feels like the person checking you in could be your best friend? You've chosen a good hostel.
Most hostels have multi-lingual staff on call 24/7. Staff members are usually fun, young, & informed. They're locals that know the best places to eat & play. They know what crowd they're catering to. Sure, they'll provide you usual must-see sights, but they also know about that underground concert or market that you can't find in a guidebook.
6. Unique Accommodations
Every hostel is unique. Each has its own design and atmosphere. Often times, you're staying in a repurposed or renovated building. You could be staying in a 200-year-old Arab Mansion , a Turkish Treehouse , or a Cappadocia Cave.
My hostel in Berlin used to be a school for fashion design and was declared a Berlin monument, surviving 2 world wars and 40 years of communism.
7. Other Amenities
Contrary to popular belief, most hostels provide the same amenities as standard hotels - wifi, free breakfast, lounge areas, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, spas, and clubs. Tired of eating out and wearing the same jeans over & over? Use the communal kitchen to cook and the washroom to finally wash your clothes. You may be sacrificing privacy, but you'd be surprised to find out just how much some of these places have to offer.
If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I'm not big on traditional hotels. For the most part, they're just BORING. Once I stayed in a good hostel and saw how great it could be, I was sold. I preferred the friendly & fun atmosphere. I loved being around like-minded travelers from around the world. Hostels are not for everyone. Some people would hate them and that's okay too. But If you're open to the idea, the affordability will give you the opportunity to use your money towards more important aspects of your trip. They're perfect for anyone who is on a budget. If you do the proper research, you're bound to find amazing hostels that impress you in many ways.
Come back next week for a hostel tour VIDEO & a quick hostel guide!
What's your take on hostels? Would you stay in one? Comment Below!
I took my first solo trip abroad to Costa Rica last month. I booked a flight without asking anyone to join me. It was a big decision, but I knew that it was something I truly wanted to do. Traveling alone can be such an adventure and I wanted to have that experience in a foreign country. I wanted to take that leap.
I hardly know the language, I had never been to this country before and I didn’t know anyone who lived there. Other than my research online about Costa Rica, I was wandering blindly into this experience. There was no way for me to be sure that everything would work out and be fine but, I went anyway.
When I arrived at the airport, there were crowds of Costa Rican men yelling spanish at me from every which direction - trying to get me to choose their taxi. In that moment, I was honestly feeling a bit anxious. “What did I just get myself into?”, I thought.
I couldn’t have planned or imagined the experiences that took place during my time in Costa Rica. I couldn’t have predicted what my trip would be like and I didn’t try to. I kept an open mind and remained neutral, trying to fight any self-doubt or fear. As a result, reality far exceeded my expectations.
I spent the next several days buying fruit I’d never seen before at the local market in San Jose, navigating the $5 buses, and trying my best to communicate with my beginner-level spanish. Google Translate saved by butt a number of times. I met the most amazing people, travelers and locals alike. One guy was taking a sabbatical from his high-paying aerospace job, a couple of girls had just completed law school, two friends just fled Venezuela, and so many people were just backpacking throughout central america. I had the opportunity to get to know a woman who lives an off-the-grid lifestyle in the corner of the rainforest. I had the opportunity to ride around town with a local surfer as he told me crazy bull-riding stories. I heard the stories of business owners who relocated to Costa Rica after economic downturn in their home countries. I had the chance to engage with people around the world who live completely different lives than I do. I loved surfing and whitewater rafting, despite priorly convincing myself that I wouldn't enjoy these things. I tried things that I never have before. I trusted my instincts and embraced the unknown. So many great things happened. I would have completely missed out on all of these things had I not gone. And I’m not so sure that these things would have happened in the same way had I not been alone.
My family thought I was crazy. The potential threat of danger in this world exists everywhere. As a female, there is always an underlying fear of being taken. However, I couldn’t allow that to hold me back. I just knew I’d have to be more alert, cautious, and aware in certain situations.
I’m sharing this because I know that some of you want to travel alone. I also know that some are scared to take that leap. Some feel that they might be bored, lonely, unsafe, uncomfortable, weird, incapable, lost, and/or embarrassed. Some don’t understand the appeal of going on a whole trip alone. Fair enough, but I encourage anyone who is remotely interested and able to give it a try. Aside from unique experiences, here’s are a few things I gained my trip alone:
Traveling alone introduced a heightened sense of awareness. Without a companion(or cell service), the only option you have is to focus on yourself(think, reflect, read, write, etc.) and/or your surroundings(people, nature, culture, etc.).
Traveling alone presented immense personal freedom. Go wherever you want. Do whatever you want. Eat whatever you want. Speak to whoever you want. Try whatever you want. Wake up whenever you want. There are no limits or routines. It’s absolute freedom to allow yourself to just go, do, and be.
Traveling alone created a strong sense of self-empowerment. When everything is your responsibility, and you actually pull it off? You end up feeling pretty dang good about yourself. When you step out of your comfort zone and realize that everything turned out okay, you then feel empowered to push the envelope even further. It’s such a thrill, especially as a female.
“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”
– Thomas A Edison
This only scratches the surface, but there are so many rewards that come with solo travel. It’s an experience that I’d recommend to everyone. And, don’t get me wrong, I’ve had amazing trips with great friends and I know that solo trips aren’t for everyone. Travel is travel. At the same time, there is something very special about traveling alone. It’s completely enriching. It gives you the chance to not only explore the world, but yourself. Sounds cheesy, but it’s the ultimate adventure.