Top 4 Priorities When Picking a Hostel
Hostels all over the globe are an essential part of any shoestring backpacker’s daily life. The quality of these establishments have improved in leaps and bounds in recent years, with some hostels becoming more and more like fabulous hotels. When picking where you want to rest your head, there are certain priorities you must consider in order to make your trip as efficient and unforgettable as possible!
My top priority when deciding on my base camp for a trip is the pricing, I like to view all hostels in a certain area by comparing the cheapest first. Think about what kind of room you would like, whether it be a large dorm, a small dorm or a private room and compare the prices for each with about five of the cheapest hostels in that area.
Remember if you are traveling as a couple, private rooms sometimes work out cheaper or the same price as a dorm! When we are traveling together and the dorms are considerably cheaper than privates, we like to alternate nights between the dorms and privates to save some money while maintaining privacy. Something like 5 nights in dorms and 2 in privates works well.
Once you have your five cheapest hostels in order, it’s time to compare their location for suitability. It can help to open Google maps and plot each of their locations on this, in order to compare their proximity to the city center (or whatever other activity you have planned). What you are looking for here is the hostel that is the most easily accessible both from your initial arrival point and back to where you are going.
If they appear to be located equally as good (or bad), have a look at what the hostel itself offers transport wise. The hostel we stayed in for Amsterdam (The Lucky Lake Hostel) offered free shuttle services to the train station, which in addition to its quiet location and cheap pricing ultimately won our hearts.
Ratings and Reviews
Now it is time to delve into the nightmarish stories that the reviews section holds. Let’s face it, if the hostels are cheap there is going to be a reason for it, its up to you to decide how fussy you are going to be. Make sure you read the bad reviews and don’t just go by the number of stars they give. There are always going to be some ratings left by people who are ridiculously out of touch with the hostel scene, expecting room service and 5 star treatment. Personally, I have never minded a bit of grime on the walls or some grubby toilets, as long as my bed is clean and comfy and my pillow is soft. We’re adventurers for goodness sake, learn to live rough!
Follow your instinct with the reviews as well, one bad review isn’t much but if there are 20 of them all reading the same thing then it’s time for alarm bells. Make sure you are prepared for whatever bad reviews you decide to brave yourself. For example, if there are talk of pickpockets in a certain hostel just make sure you are smart with your belongings and don’t leave them lying about. They can’t steal what they can’t see! If the showers are said to be dirty then take some flip flops. Adapt and survive!
Hostels that offer free breakfast or dinner are a true nomads lifesaver. If you’re smart (and sometimes sneaky) then a free breakfast can turn into a free lunch as well. Get up early and stock up for the day ahead. This massive reduction in food cost can mean a fantastic increase in beer funds!
Other things hostels might offer are arranged bar crawls, tour guides or even activity discounts. These are fantastic ways to meet new people, especially if you are traveling alone, as they are full of like-minded, adventurous people.
So get out there are use hostels! They are a fantastic place to meet new people and excellent for stretching the travel funds for a longer backpacking escapade. Check out our full guide for your next stay in a hostel on our website.
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