Hostels are fantastic places for young travelers on a budget. They are friendly and casual establishments where you can book yourself a bed in a shared dorm for much cheaper than a hotel would be. Hostels also often feature communal kitchens so that you survive on cheap pasta and beans from the local supermarket when your dining out budget runs out towards the end of your backpacking trip.
The other advantage of staying in a hostel is that you will get a chance to meet so many other cool travelers! In a hotel, you don’t get much interaction with other guests, but you and your hostel mates will always be chilling in your room, making food in the kitchen, or sitting in the communal room and it is easy to strike up a conversation and make a new friend. When you stay in a hostel, you will get the chance to talk to cool and enthusiastic travelers who are looking for adventure, just like you! This is good news for solo travelers, who are often worried that they will be lonely when traveling the world.
In most popular backpacker destinations, there will be a huge range of hostels to choose from. Selecting a bad hostel can really put a damper on your trip, but choosing an excellent one can make it extra special. Here are some things to consider when looking for a youth hostel:
What to Look for In a Hostel
For most budget backpackers, this will be one of the primary considerations. If you only have a limited amount of money saved up for your travelling experience, every penny that you don’t spend on the hostel can be spent going on a jeep safari, attending a once in a lifetime music festival, or buying another round of drinks for your friends in that awesome local pub. In this case, the cheaper the hostel the better, but be smart and don’t go so cheap that you compromise on basic hygiene or safety. Check out our tips for negotiating a cheaper stay in a hostel.
You can find the cheapest hostel in your destination, but if it takes you two hours in public transit to even reach the attractions of the city center, or it is in a sketchy neighborhood that will give you nightmares it is not worth it. Location should be a major factor when choosing a hostel, and you should look for somewhere that is convenient to the sights you want to visit and in a safe and friendly area.
Does the hostel have free WiFi? If you are a digital nomad or a blogger this will be absolutely essential. You might be wandering around with only one pair of clean underwear left, and so a hostel with laundry facilities becomes a priority. There are many other extras to consider as well, such as bike rental, breakfast, or a swimming pool.
No matter how much you trust your fellow travelers, it is not a good idea to leave your valuables such as your passport, cash, phone, or computer in a dorm room. Even if your hostel room mates seem honest, they might invite friends over and you never know who could have access to your stuff. It is better to be cautious by making sure you choose a hostel that provides secure lockers where you can keep your prized possessions under lock and key.
Make sure that if your hostel has more than one floor, it has an elevator. After a grueling 10 hour international flight, bus transfer to the city, and what seems like an eternity of trudging around with your heavy suitcases to find the hostel, the last thing you will want to do is lug all of your stuff up three flights of stairs. Trust me.
Although not an essential requirement, having a friendly and helpful receptionist to greet you when you arrive at your hostel can really make the different from an OK experience to a travel memory that is really fantastic. It’s hard to judge the friendliness of the staff before you arrive, so ask other travelers for their recommendations and use review websites to get an idea of which places have a welcoming vibe.
Terrible hostel staff can ruin the experience with a snarky attitude and lacklustre service. A great hostel staff member will answer all of your questions, provide you with a map, and do anything else that they can to make your stay more enjoyable.