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Don’t Knock It Till You Try It: Hostels

Person: How do you afford to travel? Particularly like how do you afford to stay in hotels?

Me: Who said I stay in hotels? Hostels all day, every day!

Person: What? Aren’t they dangerous, dirty, and nasty???

Me: Let me rebunk that for you…

“In a nutshell, a hostel is a budget-friendly type of accommodation that focuses on a shared social experience” – HostelWorld.com

There’s this huge misconception that hostels are like a hole in the wall dorms where there are drunk people partying 24/7, having sloppy sex in the corner, and cockroaches flying everywhere. That definitely can be true for some, but not all. And I have stayed in well over 20+ hostels and for the most part, I have had nothing but great experiences. From traveling alone, meeting the best people, exchanging ideas and experiences along with just having great hospitality, accommodation, and simply just good vibes, I have no complaints. Just like going to a new restaurant (minus the overnight stay), its all about reading the reviews. The pictures of the spot and the food can look amazing, but the reviews give away the real deal. When it comes down to choosing a hostel, I like to look at these four things: Understanding where its located (whether its by like a busy touristy area or a residential area?), the type of hostel (party hostel? coding hostel? (yes, they’re legit) or a chill hostel?), the type of amenities they provide (free breakfast? wifi? transportation to the airport?, ok now) and most importantly, cost.

Since I began traveling abroad in 2015, 95% of my stays have been in all but hostels. And let me tell you, they are simply amazing. As a fresh college grad with no job and little to no money, but loves to travel, hostels are the way to go. They are much cheaper than hotels and Airbnbs a lot of times and can be just as accommodating and great for many. In Asia, I can spend as little as $6 to $20 per night at a hostel and really enjoy my stay. We’re talking about free breakfast, comfy beds, air-conditioned rooms, a rooftop bar with a happy hour of $2 per mixed drink, TV to myself with Netflix, etc. You can’t beat that! All for a fraction of the price.

Like hotels, hostels do operate just like hotels where the beds are remade everyday, bathrooms are cleaned, checkout at noon etc. Some even give you free towels and toiletries and some may have their own free breakfast where you make your own pancakes or like free hostel tours. You can’t beat that.

Hostels are really good with solo travelers for it gives people the chance to meet others easily opening up the conversation to travel and be out there. and even introverts. Maybe you don’t like starting the conversation, but someone else will eventually and it goes from there. The opportunities are endless.

And there’s a variety of options too! If women are traveling alone and don’t feel comfortable, there are all female dorms. There’s also a choice to stay in a smaller room of people, sometimes mixed, sometimes male, and even private! Yes, private and a lot of times, even cheaper than a hotel or Airbnb.

And yes, most hostels do have dorm styled rooms, which I don’t mind. But hostels also aren’t for everyone. For people love their personal space like myself, hostels maybe a bit inclusive of your own space. But this is one thing I don’t mind giving up while traveling. Here’s how I see it: While I am out walking about all day, going on tours, sightseeing, eating, having a good time etc. When I come back, all I want to do is take a shower, charge my devices and crash into a bed. I can sleep literally under just about any circumstance and not have to worry. I don’t have nor don’t want to splurge money on places to stay knowing I plan to be there for 10% of my travels. So until the money starts rolling in or feels like I need a change of scenery, hostels it is.

Hey, but don’t people steal your stuff? Hostels have this unspoken culture where most people who stay in them are traveling with very little on my back. And with that, many travelers are very conscious about their items but also respect others and their belongings as well. Many people are there to travel and make lasting memories. The last thing people are thinking about is stealing, or maybe not? Lots of hostels do have lockers. The best way to avoid theft is to have valuables locked and/or stored in an obscure place at all times. Worse case scenario, if they don’t have one, carry it with you. Better safe than sorry if otherwise 🙂

If you’ve read to this point and still aren’t convinced, here is a list of some hostels I’ve personally stayed in:

China

Zhuo Ma’s Jiuzhaigou Home-Stay

This was booked through Hostelworld. The listing is no longer up but they do have a hotel. This home was actually a homestay where I stayed in a traditional Tibetan family home. I was able to learn more about their life, how they lived in Jiuzhaigou and their future aspirations as Tibetans. It was honestly a really neat experience and encourage people to take part in a homestay at some point in their lifetime. You really get to learn and understand about people by living in their own home. We paid roughly $40 each for the 4 days/3 nights stay.

Hong Kong

For only $25/night for the 2015 New Year Weekend, I stayed in the bustling area of Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island. Great location to get anywhere around Hong Kong and also a great place to go shopping and grab a bite to eat. For Hong Kong, our hostel was surprisingly very spacious. There was tons of room to change, and hang out. For a 10 person bedroom, they had 4 bathrooms (very generous amount) and comfy beds. Hong Kong is like the New York City of Asia and after this one visit, I could definitely find myself living here for at least 2 years. If only I could tell you the name of the place I stayed…

Thailand

Box Hostel N Cafe

One of my more recent visits, I chose this hostel solely for the aesthetics. Along with that, it was located right outside Chiang Mai’s gates and in a quiet area. For only $10/night I enjoyed a free breakfast and a very comfy bed and a ton of space to lock my items. The staff here was really nice and they helped me in finding the best tours for while I was staying here.

The US

Hi San Francisco City Center Hostel

Your girl has also stayed in multiple hostels while traveling in the US as well. I stayed here a week before I started my summer internship in San Francisco hunting for sublets and it was right in Little Saigon AKA cheap $3 Banh Mi Sandwiches and $7 Pho bowls for days. I stayed here for 4 nights for around $45/night, which is a bit more than what you would pay for a hostel in other continents like Asia and Europe, but still cheaper than a hotel. This hostel has really cool decor and it looked like each item was hand-picked from an antique shop.

Now that you’ve seen a glimpse of some of the places I have stayed in around the world, keep an open mind and reconsider staying in a hostel. You’ll be in for an adventure.

Yes, there are those people that are not as considerate, the ones that make crazy noise at the crack of dawn, the ones that would keep the light on, maybe open the window, or have their stuff out everywhere, but I promise you that these kinds of people are not always seen in every hostel. Each experience is different. Some could be one of a lifetime, some can be ok and that’s just all apart of the experience. If you are open, traveling solo, wanting to meet new people, and on a budget, hostels are the place to stay.

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