One of the most memorable experiences you can have while travelling on a budget is staying at a youth hostel. For a few dollars a night you get to bunk down with 4-15 of your fellow travelers from all over the world. Hostels can be a fantastic way to see the world and meet new people, but staying at one that doesn’t fit with what you wanted can put a damper on your whole trip. Below are some tips on where to find your perfect hostel, and what to look for before you book.
Use booking websites with ratings and reviews
There are lots of hostel search tools that include ratings from fellow travelers (including hostelbookers.com and hostelworld.com). No matter how nice a place looks in pictures, it’s important to know what people actually experienced while staying there. Past reviewers sometimes also leave tips on nearby restaurants or bars that you can visit. Reading reviews is also important for understanding the “vibe” of the hostel you’re going to be staying at. Some places are notorious for partying, and others have a quieter, more relaxing environment. Doing your research ahead of time will ensure that you’re not booked into a place that doesn’t fit with what you want.
What kind of room is it?
If you’re not used to staying in dorm-style accommodation, it might be easier to start out with a room that has fewer beds. For people who want to meet lots of others or are travelling in a group, hostels also have rooms for 10-15 people at a time. Many hostels also offer female or male only dorms. Another important thing to consider is where the bathroom is located, and how many others you will have to share it with. If you’re a very private person, traipsing through the lobby in your towel to the communal shower might be a bit embarrassing, and you should make sure your dorm has an en-suite instead.
Look into location
There is nothing worse than lugging all of your bags for miles uphill because there are no good transport options to the hostel of your choice. Make sure that you check the hostel’s website or a maps service to make sure it’s easy to get to from the airport, bus or train station. You should also figure out how far the hostel is from local sights, museums and restaurants, so that you don’t end up in one that is too far away from all the action.
Some hostels include things like wifi, breakfast and a shuttle to the airport, but others make you pay for these extras. If you absolutely can’t live without the internet for a few days, this is something to consider. The hostel’s website and booking websites should have information about what’s included, and if not, how much these services will cost you.
With these tips, you should be on your way to booking a great hostel, in a great location, in time for your next budget vacation!