I just need to set the record straight about this because when I was telling people back home (in the good ole U.S. of A.) about my travels and plans to stay in hostels, I kept getting the same “OMG aren’t you scared of getting murdered???” response.
Cue eye roll.
No. I am not scared of getting murdered. First of all, no one should live in that kind of fear or ignorance of the unknown. Think of it like summer camp. Or like going to college and being in a dorm with a bunch of random people you’ve never met. But don’t feel too bad, even I didn’t realize exactly what hostels would be like until I started staying in them.
There are many different types, and if you are trying to travel on a budget (or even not), they are a great alternative to staying in hotels. You’ve got your standard dormitory-like hostel, boutique hostels, guesthouse hostels (which are really just like small hotels), hippie-like hostels, party hostels, quiet hostels, all-female hostels, and a range in between. There are many styles to choose from and it all depends on your preferences. Some have private rooms, some have twin-shares, some have ensuites (private in-room bathroom) while others have sets of bathrooms and showers in a separate area. Some cities are really expensive so no matter where you go, you may be paying 50 USD (Like Paris), while other cities are dirt-cheap and you can pay 11 USD a night. What!? Accommodation for $11 a night? Yes, you heard that right.
I’ve learned something about myself on my round-the-world trip so far and that is that I don’t like the big, impersonal dormitory-style hostels, but instead prefer the smaller hostels that have a family feel to them, with cute decor and a nice common room for all to hang out and meet each other in- and a huge draw for me, family dinners every night. This is so key for someone that travels by them self as often I do- that way I can meet people and socialize and not feel truly alone. Most hostels have lockers as well, so you can secure your stuff.
People think traveling to other countries is really expensive, but if you don’t mind staying in a hostel, it really isn’t that expensive. Accommodation can really add up and you can stay in a fun, social atmosphere for really cheap! I really don’t mind sharing a room with 4-8 people (when I have my sleeping mask and ear plugs of course). Also, they aren’t just for young people! At one of the hostels I stayed at, the owners were telling me that a few weeks before, a 70-year old woman was staying there. Some have age limits, but its just a fun and interesting experience if you are open to meeting new people. Of course this is not for everyone, but why not give it a try?
What do you think of hostels? Has anyone had bad experiences?