Do you stay in hostels? I do, and I love it! I’m going to tell you why, but first a disclaimer: purchasing a TEFL course through the link here will result in us receiving compensation. We appreciate you trusting our opinion on the products that will help you teach and travel in 2020!
America doesn’t really have hostels. Instead, the country is littered with hotels, motels, and Air BnBs. So when I first tell people back home that I’m staying in hostels on my trips abroad, they’re skeptical. Aren’t hostels dirty? Dangerous? Full of people who want to kidnap and murder you like in that weird horror film?
To which I always answer no.
I love staying in hostels when I travel. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way, but I love it. Sure, sometimes it is nice to have a room to yourself, but when traveling alone, hostels are the way to go. Some of the reasons you should consider staying in hostels are your next trip abroad are cost, proximity to sites, and socialization.
The Price of Hostels
Hostels are cheap, especially in Southeast Asia, where I tend to do most of my traveling. Even when they are more expensive, they are still a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
Paying a little for a place to sleep means you have more money to spend on food, drinks, tourist attractions, or whatever it is you want to spend money on. It also means that you can save money, especially if you are traveling on a budget.
On every trip I’ve taken I’ve spent less than $100 USD on accommodation. This is because I stayed in hostels exclusively. It’s incredible to spend so much money on a room, especially since when I worked in admissions my hotel stays would be around $100 a night. I stayed in hotels four nights a week when I worked in admissions. That’s $1,200 in one month on hotels! Even though I was not paying for the hotels, it’s still a lot of money!
Another great thing about hostels that help cut down on costs is that they often have free breakfast. Not all do, but you can typically find ones on Hostel World listing free breakfast. In fact, one hostel I stayed at in Bali had 24 hour pancakes. Additionally, the staff would often cook food and share it with the guests. On my last day in Bali, the only meal I purchased was one in the airport before flying to Kuala Lumpur.
If you want a hotel right in the center of a city, you’re looking at spending a lot of money. The same cannot be said for hostels.
When I went to Hong Kong, I stayed in Tsim Sha Tsui right across from Kowloon Park. This area of Hong Kong is full of shopping malls, night clubs, restaurants, and cultural attractions. I was a five minute walk from the Bay where I could watch the Symphony of Lights every night. It was an incredible place to stay. One that would have been un-affordable in a hotel.
But I stayed in a hostel that was less than $10 a night. Considering Hong Kong is one of the most expensive cities in the world, this was a steal. I had access to a park, two subway stations, and the ferry, all within walking distance.
Now my only disclaimer here is that this hostel was not nice by any stretch of the imagination. I spent as little time there as possible. The rooms were tiny and cramped with poor lighting. There was no common area to socialize with others. But I was in Hong Kong! With a place to sleep for next to nothing.
Other places I’ve stayed have been just as conveniently located, like my hostel in Bangkok one street over from Khao San Road. Since I wasn’t actually on Khao San Road, I could sleep at night and walk there each evening. In Taiwan I was a 10 minute walk from the central metro station and a two blocks away from a beautiful park. Singapore landed me smack dab in Little India, where the food was amazing and cheap.
The Social Atmosphere in Hostels
The final reason you should consider staying in hostels on your next trip abroad is the social atmosphere you can find in hostels.
Since I do most of my traveling alone, staying in hostels is necessary since I don’t want to spend my entire trip alone. While I prefer exploring cities on my own during the day, I like to sit down and exchange stories with other travelers at night.
Not every place I stayed was social, but the majority were. When I stayed in Hanoi the pool was crowded with travelers and expats alike, making for a loud and social atmosphere. My hostel in Taipei had a bar in the communal space, so travelers could leave the quiet of their room and sit around the tables sharing stories over a drink.
Even when I traveled with Molly to Bali, we stayed in hostels. Not only did this allow us to make friends that ultimately resulted in us saving money, but it also kept us from getting fed up with each other. Spending eight straight days with another person can be difficult, but when you factor in a group dynamic, it becomes much easier to do. You make friends and have conversations that wouldn’t take place with just two people.
So while staying in a hostel for the first time can seem daunting or intimidating, I highly recommend moving past the fear of sharing a room with strangers and booking a hostel for your next trip abroad.