In the travel world hostels are commonly known especially in Europe. Every time I travel out of the country I stay in a hostel because they are inexpensive and you get to meet other people. When visiting places like Paris or Florence I would not be able to afford to stay in a hotel. I can't even afford to stay in a hotel down the street where I live let alone in some of the most expensive cities in the world. Hostels are a fabulous alternative for those still wanting to ball on a budget.
How Do I Pick?
I use hostelworld.com to find which hostel I want to stay at. You can choose your city and dates you plan on being there. On the site there are reviews and the site will tell you how close the hostel is from transportation, the city center, and other attractions. Hostel world also has ratings for location, staff friendless, and cleanliness from guest who have stayed there. My friend, Katie, and I never book a hostel with a rating lower than and 8. You want to make sure the place you are staying is clean, and people are very honest and eager to share their unfiltered opinion, so read the comments.
How It Works?
Hostels are like summer camp. You share a room and bunk with other people. Yes strangers, but it's not scary at all. The majority of these people are also travelers. On my last trip to Paris I met a girl from Australia who was finishing up her year of travel before heading back home, and I met another girl in Copenhagen who was celebrating finishing her Master's degree. You can choose between private rooms, 4 bunk, 6 bunk, 8 bunk, and 10 bunk rooms. When traveling with one other person I stick between 4 and 6 bunk rooms just so there aren't too many other people I don't know. If there is a group of 6 of us traveling then we book an 8 or 10 bunk because, think, you'll already know over half the people in the room. The more bunks the cheaper the price. I've even seen up to 30 bunks, but I would not suggest that. Those are usually for large school groups. You can all choose between all girls, all boys, or mixed dorms.
Why not a Hotel?
I have stayed at many hostels and most of them are just as nice, usually nicer, as hotels. Some look like IKEA showrooms and the staff are great. Most hostels also include breakfast and lockers for you to keep personal belongings. I always travel with a lock to lock my suitcase when I leave it behind. All your doing is sleeping there. The rest of the time you are out exploring the city! In all the places I've stayed I have never had anything taken from me in a hostel and neither has anyone else I know. I don't want to think about what a hotel would cost in the city center of Paris with a view and transportation just down the block. The hostel I stayed in (pictured above) was beautiful. It was like stepping back in time and I paid less than $200 for four nights. If you are a frequent traveler you'll soon find out this is the way to go.
What You Need
If you decide to live the hostel life for your next trip here are some things you'll need to remember to bring.
- Shower Shoes
- Towel (you can rent/ or buy one if you forget or don't have the luggage space)
- Lock for your suitcase ( I recommend one with a code so you don't have to keep track of a key)
- Sleep Mask ( Only if you're sensitive to light, but people are usually considerate when in these places)
- Headphones ( It helps just to drown out some noise if you're a light sleeper)
Do Your Research
I've only had one bad hostel experience and that was because I didn't do the right amount of research. Actually I did no research. Remember some Hostels are amazing and look like showrooms while others look like your great grandmas basement. To avoid a bad experience be sure you look at a few things before booking.
- READ the ratings and comments
- Check to see how far the hostel is from the airport, public transportation (if you're not driving), attractions, etc.
- Is it a Youth Hostel? (they tend to be a little louder so I avoid them)
- What's included (lockers, breakfast, free tours)
- Cleanliness, always check the cleanliness rating
Overall, until I'm making bank, or just too old to think they're fun anymore, I will continue to stay in hostels when I do international travel. There is always a new place to be discovered and I can guarantee a hostel waiting there for you.