One of the ways I’ve saved a lot of money this year when traveling is staying in hostels. Hostels?? Yup, I’ve stayed in hostels in New Orleans, Georgia, and Miami this year, and have arrangements to stay at many more in the trips I have planned for the rest of the year. For some reason people seem to have such a hard time accepting the thought of staying in a hostel, but it has given me the opportunity to take trips in places I would otherwise not be able to afford, and I have had some awesome experiences staying in them. I do understand why they sound so risky, and I also understand why they are not for everybody, but I do think people should be more open minded to them.
The most expensive hostel I've ever stayed in was $30, and that was on Magazine Street in New Orleans the last weekend of Mardi Gras when the nearby hotels were sold out and going for hundreds of dollars a night, so I’d say $30 wasn’t a bad deal. Most of the time the hostels I have found are closer to $20, and a lot of the time even include dinner. As Michael Scott would say, “it’s a win, win, win.”
Con: Sharing a room with a bunch of strangers
This is the biggest turn off to people when it comes to staying in a hostel, and while I do understand that, it’s not as bad as it sounds. If you’re worried about theft worry no more, good hostels offer places to put your bags! There are usually lockers or compartments under the bunk bed you can put a lock on, and just like that your things are safe! Also, most of the time everyone is there for the same reason as you, a place to sleep. That means they are usually pretty respectful to your things and being quiet in the room while people are sleeping, plus hostels always have common areas and places for people to hang out so that’s where most of the socializing happens. Also, a lot of hostels offer very affordable private rooms, this is what I did when I went to New Orleans in August. I was going with a friend and wasn’t sure she would be down for a hostel, but knew she would be down to save some serious money, so I booked us in a private room and it turned out to be just what we needed.
Pro: New friends from all over the world!!!!!
This could possibly be my favorite part of staying in hostels! You meet people from everywhere! People coming from different places with different stories, and usually always open to talking about it! I’ve met people that live within hours of me all the way to people from Australia! Backpackers, people on weekend trips, people road tripping across America, people cross country cycling, I’ve met people doing things I never even thought of doing prior to meeting them at a hostel! It gives you more of a global perspective and inspiration to try new things!
Con: Shared bathrooms?
This never really bothered me, but I can see it being a turn off. I’ve stayed in a hostel with the bathroom being in a separate place down the hall, similar to a locker room style bathroom, and I’ve been in a hostel where it was also similar to locker room style but inside the dorm room. If you’re worried about the conditions of the bathroom check hostels.com or hostelworld.com for hostel reviews to see what other people had to say about it or give the hostel a call and ask them yourself what it’s like.
Pro: Travel Tips You Can’t Get From The Guidebooks
As I mentioned earlier, staying in a hostel gives you an awesome opportunity to make new friends, and one of the many benefits that comes from that is travel tips! You are surrounded by people that most likely just went where you’re going or are are planning on going the same place, and can share with you everything that they have learned about it! Whether it be a place to eat, a way to get there, or something to do when you get where you’re going, they will be able to give you a little more insight on it than you already had, and who would turn that down?
I’m sure that there are plenty of other hostel pros and cons, but hopefully this can give you some insight to the questions you have been asking. If you think it would be fun and are looking for a more affordable way to travel go ahead and give it a shot! If you don’t like it you can always leave, and don’t have to try it again. That being said, if it does not appeal to you at all, and you think it sounds miserable, do yourself and your potential roommates a favor and just get a hotel. Your experience will be what you make it and going in with a negative attitude will leave you with a negative experience.
Much to my mother’s dismay, I love staying in a hostel and I always look forward the unique experience it provides. I wholeheartedly recommend staying in hostels to anyone with an open mind looking for a different experience in travel, and a way to save a few bucks at the same time.
If you’re someone else who stays in hostels leave me a comment about some of the pros and cons of hostel life that you have experienced!