I’m a budget traveler and don’t see the point or the value in spending a lot of money on accommodation while on the road. Throughout my travels, I’ve stayed in 50+ different hostels all over the world. It always bothers me when I mention something about a hostel and the person I’m talking to’s face cringes up. Their usual response is “Is it like the movie where people get tortured?” My response is usually, “yes…last time I got chopped in half.” Trust me, they’re nothing like the Hostel movies. Because of this, I wanted to share my top reasons to stay in a hostel while traveling and try to change people’s perception a bit.
1) You Meet New Friends From All Over The World
My favorite part of staying in a hostel is all the friends I’ve made from all over the world, whether from Norway, Germany, Australia, Costa Rica, etc. A hostel will almost always have a common area where everyone hangs out and gets to know each other. Whether it’s sharing a couple beers and swapping travel stories or playing some games before going out on a pub crawl organized by the hostel (more on this later), a hostel is a great way to make new friends. They’re especially great when you’re traveling by yourself as everyone is typically very outgoing and wants to have a good time as well. Staying in a dorm-style room is also a good way to meet people.
2) A Cheap Bed To Sleep In
My travel philosophy has always been that the less I spend on each trip, the more trips I can go on. Staying in a hostel is a great way to accomplish this. For example, in Costa Rica all my hostels were between $5 and $10 a night right on the beach! In Europe, I think I averaged about 20 euros a night or less (except for Paris). Some people might not like the dorm-style accommodations, but for the small amount of time I spend in a bed sleeping I think it’s worth it. Most people don’t know this, but usually hostels have single or double private rooms. They cost a little bit more, but are usually still significantly cheaper than a hotel.
3) Free / Discounted Meals & Happy Hours
Free breakfasts, cheap dinners, and happy hours at the hostel will save a ton of money while traveling and keep your trip going that much longer. I’m a big fan of bagels or toast with nutella and a bowl of cereal first thing in morning before I head out for the day. A couple hostels I’ve stayed at have even had a full breakfast buffet for only a couple bucks extra. If you can find a hostel with its own bar inside, they’re probably going to have drink specials at different times of the day.
4) Budget Tours and Pub Crawls from the Hostel
Most hostels I’ve stayed in have offered city tours and / or tours of local attractions priced for budget travelers. For example, when I was in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, my hostel organized a rafting trip for us that was a lot cheaper than anything we could have found on our own. They usually have special rates set up with tour guides in exchange for sending the business. I’m also a huge fan of Sandeman’s New Europe free tours (the people in the red shirts) in most of the big European cities.
Hostels typically organize pub crawls several nights a week. A lot of times you will pay 10 dollars / euros / pounds and receive a free drink at each bar, free beer for the first hour, free shots, etc. These have been some of the best times of my trips because, while the sites are great, you can only see so many cathedrals and museums before they all start to look the same. Pub crawls are a fun way to get out and meet other travelers, and who doesn’t like cheap drinks?
5) Location Usually Near City Center
Hotels in or near the center of a big city (think Paris or London) will cost you a fortune to stay in. All the hostels are generally within walking distance or within easy public transportation of all the major sites of a city.
All this isn’t to say there aren’t some shady hostels out there, because there definitely are. Fortunately, I’ve had pretty good luck with all the hostels I’ve stayed in. Make sure you go on sites like Hostelworld or Hostelbookers and read the reviews before making any bookings. You’ll definitely be glad you did.
So save some money, have some fun, and check out a hostel on your next trip!