When I first started traveling, it was with my family. We stayed in hotels and home rentals, but never a hostel. Once I started traveling on my own and realized I’d have to plan my own accommodation, it was an unpleasant shock to realize how large a spend places to stay were.

Going the hostel route is a great way to meet a lot of new people, and keep your budget under control. I love traveling this way and always consider hostels before any other type of accommodation. Here are 5 things I’ve learned along the way:

1. They’re usually not as uncomfortable as you’d expect.
So, what is a hostel? Over the years, my biggest surprise with hostels has been how comfortable and clean they are. Perhaps there was a time when hostels really were fairly dingy across the board. But today, this stereotype is vastly incorrect.

If you’re still concerned about comfort level, however, you have a lot of options. If you’re willing to pay a little extra, consider a “poshtel”, which is essentially one step between a hostel and a hotel.

2. The common room is your friend.
Most hostels have a common area which is an ideal place to hang out, especially if you’re traveling alone, since it’s a great place to meet fellow travelers! And usually the reception will have lists of events or suggested outings, including affordable places to eat or free activities – if you don’t want to go alone, you’re sure to meet others who will want to go.

Also – age is just a number! Hostels may seem like a purely young traveler sort of space, but often you’ll meet older travelers who have chosen an unconventional retirement and are happily spending their days hostel hopping. They are always down for a conversation and usually have fascinating stories. Never pass up a chance to listen!

3. Bring your own towels and lock
Unless you’re staying in one of the aforementioned “poshtels”, you may be out of luck if you don’t have your own towel and don’t want to rent one. And it’s also a good idea to have water safe shoes or sandals for the shower.

If the hostel provides lockers, definitely take advantage. Nothing puts a damper on a vacation like stolen belongings.

4. Bedbugs are, unfortunately, a thing.

And related to number #1, they have nothing to do with cleanliness, and everything to do with the sheer volume of people who pass through. 5 star hotels are just as likely to have them as hostels.

A tip for getting rid of them: lavender oil. Depending on where you’re traveling, this may or may not be easy to find, so try to get some before you leave for your trip. It might seem like an extravagant spend, but it’s a valuable and effective bed bug deterrent.

If you see one, don’t freak out. Strip your bed, take all your clothes, and throw everything in an extra hot dryer. This should do the trick!

5. Patience and open mindedness
Traveling can be exhausting. In fact, there’s probably no other activity where new opportunities to learn patience and understanding come up every day. Hostels are busy, bustling places, even in off seasons, and an extra smile here and there does wonders to alleviate the stress of travel.

In hostels, you will meet people from all walks of life – everyone has interesting stories and backgrounds. You’ll get to know multiple cultures, learn words in many languages, and be introduced to differing world views. Be open to meeting new people! Always, always join in for excursions, tours, and meals- especially if you’re traveling alone. Not only will going as a group help lessen the cost, but you’re also sure to make new friends very quickly.

 

It may surprise you, but some guided tours stay in hostels too! All part of the experience, and going guided is a way to ensure you won’t miss out on the key sights of the area. Find your perfect guided tour on Stride Travel.

By Samantha Scott

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