The Unexpected Perks of Staying in a Hostel
For many first time travelers, the idea of staying in a hostel can seem a little intimidating. Many feel uneasy with the idea of sharing a dorm room, bathroom, or other facilities. They question the safety, cleanliness, or basic common sense of bunking with strangers. Every first-time backpacker has had these concerns, but more times than not, these same skeptics come to love the hostel experience.
The obvious perk of staying in a hostel is the price. Most hostels are budget-friendly, particularly for people traveling alone who don’t want to pay for a full room by themselves. The cost savings alone are what drive many people to stay in a hostel. But once they arrive, the perks can be surprising. The experience becomes more than just convenient – it’s enjoyable.
So what exactly can you gain from staying in a hostel?
Meet Diverse Travelers
Travel is about meeting new people and exposing yourself to different cultures. You do this not only with the places you visit but also with the people met while on the road. For many first time backpackers, their biggest apprehension – rooming with strangers – actually becomes a highlight of their trip. Admittedly, it can feel strange at first to share a room with people you don’t know, some of whom may not even speak your language. But in the end, you’ll likely have a great time getting to know the culturally diverse group that’s staying at the same hostel. People come from all over the world and have many different backgrounds. They travel for various reasons and have many different stories to tell. While most backpackers are younger, there is often a wider age range among backpackers staying at hostels than one might expect. You may even find the occasional family taking advantage of a hostel setting – families can often share one room, which is usually harder to do in a hotel.
A big part of the travel experience is meeting other travelers, and there is no better setting for this than a hostel.
In many major cities, you’ll find the most expensive hotels in the most convenient locations near the city center. Real estate in these areas can be expensive and the fanciest and finest hotels are often in the most coveted locations. Surprisingly, many hostels are also located in these prime areas. You’ll find many hostels around Prague’s Old Town Square, near Budapest’s Danube River, and in the heart of London. The convenience of these prime locations not only offers easy access to many of the city’s top sights and attractions, but also saves you money by cutting down on the subway, taxi, or bus fares that you might have to pay by staying further away.
If you stay in a traditional hotel, you’ll find the most affordable options on the outskirts of town and out in the suburbs. Hostels, however, are usually located right in the middle of the action. Whether you’re in town for just a day or two or have a week to explore, you’ll find that a central location improves your experience and lets you see the city on a more in-depth level.
There are as many types of hostels as there are types of travelers. The cliche of shoestring budget travelers crashing in dirty student hostels is a thing of the past. Whether you’re traveling in Europe, Asia, or Australia, you’ll find a wide variety of high-quality hostels that offer a fantastic atmosphere for visitors. Many hostels specifically employ travelers who enjoy hanging out with guests and providing their own insight into the city. Some hostels have bars and nightclubs that appeal to travelers and locals alike. Other hostels have hammocks, oversized sofas, or bean bag chairs that are perfect for lounging around, reading a book, or planning your day.
If you’re looking for a party, you’ll find some of the world’s best party hostels in cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, or Rome. If you want a quiet beach retreat, there are plenty of mellow, laid-back hostels in Costa Rica or Australia. Whatever your style, you’ll find a hostel that meets your needs.
Organized Activities and Events
Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash
Many hostels go out of their way to make sure guests have fun during their stay. It’s not uncommon for hostels to organize any number of events throughout the week. These events can include everything from pub crawls to barbeques or dinner nights. Some hostels offer events that are centered around nightlife and partying, like beer pong tournaments or pool parties. Other hostels have events that are more focused on adventure or cultural activities. There may be city walking tours, surfing lessons, or rock climbing expeditions depending on where you’re visiting and where you’re staying. Regardless of what type of events the hostel offers, these activities provide the perfect opportunity to meet other travelers and make some new friends.
Another unique part of staying at a hostel is the community space they usually offer. While most hotels have a guest lobby and a restaurant or bar, hostels typically have common rooms with televisions and sofas. Additionally, hostels often have pool tables, board games, or foosball for guests to enjoy. Unlike hotels, it’s not uncommon to find people hanging out and socializing in these areas.
Another added perk to staying in a hostel is the kitchen. While not all hostels have kitchens available to guests, many do. If you’re on the road for a long time, you’ll enjoy having the occasional home-cooked meal. If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll benefit from the cost savings of cooking your own food. Kitchen quality can vary widely from hostel to hostel. Some kitchens are well equipped with pots, pans, dishes, and basic seasonings, while others offer little more than a stove and refrigerator. Make sure you inquire about the quality of the kitchen if this is important to you. And donít forget that kitchens can be social, too.
Space For Groups
Some hostels are designed specifically to house larger groups. Whether you’re traveling with a school group or group of friends, the convenience of a hostel can’t be beat. Small groups can share one dorm room making the experience all the more fun and rewarding. On the contrary, it can be difficult for traditional hotels to accommodate larger groups and ensure that everyone is in the same area. Hostels frequently work with larger groups, and some even provide a designated coordinator for school groups.
Whatever your reason for staying in a hostel, you’ll likely be impressed and surprised by the experience. Hostels have become more than just a cheap place to spend the night, and you’ll quickly find you’ve made friends and memories to last a lifetime.