Everything You Need to Know about Staying in a Hostel

January 30, 2014

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Traveling abroad is always exciting but can also be quite unnerving. As you prepare for your trip, you are likely to hear all kinds of stories (both good and bad) from the people you talk to. In the months before my trip to Central/South America, I talked to many people about my travel plans. One of the questions people most frequently asked me about my upcoming trip was, “Where will you stay?” I told people that most of the time I would be staying in hostels, which got me mixed reactions.

Staying In a Hostel
Staying In a Hostel

Some people had no idea what a hostel was, while others looked terrified and asked if I had ever seen the scary movie, Hostel. For someone who travels often, hostels are my go-to choice for where to stay. However, for those who don’t travel, hostels are a foreign concept. Below I’ve addressed some of the most frequent questions I get about hostels:

Where are hostels located?

Hostels are everywhere. In pretty much any country you choose to visit, you will have multiple options of hostels to stay in. Despite the fact that many Americans do not realize it, there are tons of them in cities all over the United States. I live close to Miami and I have gone down to South Beach to hang out with people who were traveling and staying in the hostel there. It can be easy to forget that your hometown may be a travel destination for people from other countries.

How much do they cost?

Hostel prices vary depending on where you are. I have found that many hostels in Europe cost around 20-25 euros. Hostels in South America, however, are cheaper–closer to 10 dollars a night. It also depends on the room you select. If you do not care about how many people you share a room with, you will pay less. Yet, if you want a single or double room, you will pay more. I generally opt to pay for the cheapest dorm because I don’t mind sharing a room with a lot of people. It just makes it easier to meet new friends!

Who stays in hostels?

Travelers from just about everywhere stay in hostels. The great thing about staying in hostels is that you can meet so many people from all over the world so easily! I have shared dorms with people from Germany, Australia, Canada, China, Switzerland, and so many other countries. In fact, I am currently traveling with someone I met at my hostel in Maui a year and a half ago! You never know who you will meet at your hostel.

While people of all ages stay in hostels, it is more common to find young people in hostels. It is nice to be surrounded by like-minded, young individuals who are usually open-minded, friendly, and ready to see something new.

Are hostels safe?

I have never felt unsafe in a hostel. However, I think it is important to choose the right hostel, especially as a woman. If you book your hostel on a site like hostelbookers.com or hostelworld.com, you will not only be able to see all of the hostels located in your travel destination, but you will also see how people rated them. I always book hostels that have an above average rating. Most hostels provide a safe so that you can store and lock your valuables, and many hostels will even pick you up and drop you off at the airport.

If you are nervous about whom you will be sharing a room with, book a single dorm. If you are a girl who feels uncomfortable with boys in the room, many hostels will offer all-girl dorms. I have stayed in both all-girl dorms as well as mixed dorms and have never had any problems. But it is important to do whatever feels best for you.

Overall, hostels are just as safe as anywhere else you might stay. While every hostel is slightly different, they all provide a place for travelers from all over the world to come together. Your experiences in hostels will vary. Some stays may be better than other stays. However, I guarantee you that during your travels, there will be certain hostels that end up feeling like home. The people that you meet, whether they are your roommates or the staff, will be so understanding and friendly that you won’t want to leave.

The memories you make at hostels will be just as good as those you make while exploring the town or hiking through the forests. My favorite thing about hostels is the fact that they are always changing. People are always coming and going, sharing their travel stories with you, and giving you tips. The positive energy of all of the travelers around you will inspire you and reassure you that the world is still filled with curious, kindhearted people from all over the world.

About Alanna Murphy

Alana Murphy is a curious person who takes an interest in many things. For her, traveling is one of the best ways to learn not only about yourself, but also about others and this amazing world we live in. The excitement of meeting new people, exploring an unknown area, and the challenge of being out of your comfort zone are all part of the appeal of traveling.

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