Traveling can be a very lonely activity at times. New places feel overwhelming and unfamiliar. Even if traveling with company, it can be challenging to adjust to a new area. You have to figure out the transportation system, places to go, things to do, and sometimes even a new language.
I've found that choosing to stay in hostels over hotels is a great way to quickly adjust to a new place while traveling. Living in a dorm with people who are having similar experiences is a comforting feeling. Everyone is away from home and wanting to explore their new exciting location. Even staying in a private room in a hostel still gives you to same community feel while having more personal space.
Hostels just provide an instant support group of likeminded people.
However, hostels don’t have a great reputation. People think they're cheap, dirty, bed bug-infested closets overflowing with poor backpackers. Perhaps some are like that, but I've never had a bad experience. Quarters can be rather tight but there are many room options when it comes to hostels. That being said, check out travel reviews before booking just as you would for any other form of accommodation.
It's hard to generalize all hostels, but here are my top five reasons to consider staying in a hostel over a hotel the next time you travel.
If you're traveling on a budget, dorms are the way to go. I've stayed in resorts where private rooms are $300 a night and I spent only $17 on a hostel dorm. Even though residents of these private rooms are spending so much more, their money is only paying for the private room. We still shared a bathroom, ate the same food at the restaurant, and got equal access to facilities like the pool, bar, beach, and recreational activities.
Most hostels have a variety of room set ups for different costs so you can choose which one best matches your lifestyle and budget. And by spending less money on where you sleep, you’ll have more money for activities wherever you go.
Hostels generally have bulletin boards covered in local activities, jobs, and events. These are really helpful in getting to know various aspects of an area. The front desk is also typically staffed by knowledgeable locals who know a lot about what to do and see, they can help you with just about anything.
Fellow residents tend to also share their own tips and recommendations which may have been passed on to them by other travelers. And because hostel guests are so diverse, everyone has different interests so you hear about activities you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.
Meeting new people
Hostels are set up for people to meet each other. You share a room, bathroom, kitchen, living spaces, and resources so are constantly encouraged to interact. People who choose to stay in hostels share the same mindset of wanting to meet each other. This creates a sense of community that is not found in hotels. Many hostels even plan movie nights, games, dinners, and outings for residents to socialize.
Eating out is one of the most expensive parts of traveling but most hostels have kitchens which will help you cut that cost. Kitchens are well stocked with pots and pans, dishes, and utensils. I’ve stayed in places that also had blenders, rice cookers, panini presses, coffee makers, and free food bins from people moving out. This allows you to eat healthier and for less.
One of my favorite hostel memories was making a Thanksgiving feast with my floor in a hostel. There were only a few Americans but everyone was excited to help cook and celebrate the holiday for the first time. We were all happy to be in a hostel because we had the space and resources to make an entire feast and the people to celebrate with.
Location, location, location
Hostels are typically in the center of the city, walking distance from restaurants, bars, theatres, shopping . . . you name it. It's easy to get to a variety of activities from your front door step. This varies from hostel to hostel but their websites typically describe the area and what is available close by.
When you're checking into a hostel, just ask the person working the front desk for their recommendations. You’ll learn about the local spots to eat and explore from an insider.
Top 5 Reasons Why Every Traveller Should Try Staying in a Hostel
Whether you're traveling alone or in a group, long or short term, consider staying in a hostel the next time you go. And don't forget to check out websites like Hostelworld and Hostelbookers which give additional discounts for becoming a member.
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Are you a hostel or hotel kind of traveler? What do you think about sharing your living space with others?