Hostels are a popular choice for budget travelers across the world. Contrary to popular belief, they are not just for youth; you will find all ages and even families. While saving is a big advantage, it isn’t the only reason to choose a hostel; there are many other benefits to choosing a hostel instead of a hotel, even if you have ample funds.
- Different types of rooms –Dorm rooms are the cheapest option if you don’t mind bunking with a group. Some are single-sex, but others are coed. When booking a hostel also check on the availability of private or semi-private rooms, which are still less expensive than a hotel. When I visited East Glacier, I booked a private room at Brownies Hostel cost just over $20 per night. Even better, it was situated on top of a bakery…yum! If you plan to stay in a dorm, be sure to pack a paddle-lock for your locker. Some hostels will provide a lock, but not all.
- Meet people – People who stay in hostels tend to be more social and are often serious travelers. Unlike a hotel where guests hide in their rooms, hostels have common areas where travelers hang out. Not only will you get a chance to meet fun people but also they may provide tips that will make your stay even more enjoyable.
- Hosts know the area – Hostel hosts can be your best source of local beta. They spend their days hearing stories from other travelers and know the area well themselves. Frequently they will have maps and can tell you where to find lesser-known local attractions.
- Common areas and amenities – Common areas frequently include at minimum a living area and kitchen, stocked with all the basics from board games and books to pots and pans. Washers and dryers are typically available but not free. Wi-Fi is also common though be prepared to have to login from the common area.
- Cook in – Having a kitchen means you can eat healthier and cheaper by skipping restaurant dining. Even better, there is often a free food shelf and leftovers up for grabs. Once you get to know a few people team up to prepare a community dinner. Just having a place to prep snacks for the trail is a huge plus.
- Save money – This is the most obvious reason to choose a hostel. Hostels are typically a fraction of the cost of a hotel and I’ll gladly make my own bed if it means I can travel more often.
Next time you plan a trip, consider booking a hostel not just to save a few bucks but also to enjoy the many benefits they offer. They are now my first choice when I travel solo because I really enjoy the company and the ability to cook. However, I do prefer to pay a little extra for a private room.
Have you ever stayed in a hostel? If so, what did you think of the experience?
I have been avoiding hostels like the plague, until I spent three weeks in Australia and needed to stay at them to save money. I was VERY surprised at their cleanliness and higher age group. Not all hostels are dirty, loud and flooded with drunk teenagers. I’d encourage anyone to look into them a bit more deeper on their next trip.
I had a bad first experience with a hostel in N Georgia which was exactly what you feared, drunk kids and dirty. I must confess, I took my tent to the back yard rather than sleep there. I realized later that it could have been avoided if I had just done some research. There were plenty of reviews on that place and other excellent options nearby. I just picked based on the closest location to the trail. I decided to try hostels again and loved it! The important lesson I learned is to read reviews before booking.
I used to stay in hostels on my trips to South America until I discovered Couchsurfing. If I’m not camping I’m Couchsurfing or offering to work a couple hours on a farm in exchange for food and accommodation.
However, hostels in National Parks, especially in North America, are definitely the best option. My wife and I always book a private room of course 🙂
Very good points here Erika. A few more may be: 1) Some Hostels force you out during the middle of the day, so you have to go do something (although, if you are sick……) 2) Some Hostels are in prime locations and have been there for years and pre-date some fancy hotels. In Zermatt, I stayed at one & I had a room with a view of the Matterhorn for 34 SwissFancs a night, which included breakfast. It was also closer to the ski lifts. Whereas, people staying in the village were paying $100 – $400 with a view of the hotel next door 🙂 & were further from the ski lifts.
Thanks for the great points Lane!