To many people, the main purpose of traveling is to experience a new place, see a landmark that you’ve been dreaming of ever since you were little, check something off your bucket list. But sometimes the most memorable part of traveling isn’t even the scenery itself, but the people you meet. By far, the best way to meet people is to stay in a hostel.
For a long time, I never understood what a hostel actually was. Is it a hotel? Is it a dingy room with beds all over the place where people are crammed in like sardines? Can anyone walk in? Is it safe? Well, a lot of these questions depend on where you stay, but a hostel is essentially like a more laid-back version of a hotel. You get to stay in a room with your own bed, usually bunks, but there can be anywhere from 1 to 8 (sometimes even more) other people in your room.
This may sound overwhelming and like a complete invasion of privacy, but the bedrooms are typically quiet, as there are other common rooms and areas where guests hang out. There are also usually safes and storage rooms to keep larger or more valuable items. And, a major bonus for the young traveler, is that hostels are usually way way WAY cheaper than a hotel.
When researching for a hostel to stay in, you can usually get a feel for the place based on the reviews. I typically use hostelworld.com for all of my research. They provide information regarding location, cost, facilities, pictures, reviews, and more.
Whether you’re looking for a “party hostel” or something a little more laid back, there is a place out there that will suit your needs. Keep in mind how long you will be staying for, as well as the location. As a traveler without a car, I always look for a hostel that is close to the city center or to public transport. Also keep in mind your sleeping habits. Do you want to be at a hostel where the protocol is to pub crawl every night, or somewhere that offers a more relaxed vibe? Center city or city edges? Eight beds per room or four? How much are you looking to spend? There are just a few questions to consider.
Aside from the ever-looming money concept, hostels are such a beautiful creation because they are breeding grounds for conversation. With people from all over the world who are traveling for different reasons, it’s so easy to spark up a conversation. Many people in hostels are young travelers on their own or in small groups, often looking to meet other people as well. Once you get chatting, it’s frequently the case that you end up going out somewhere or adventuring together, and that’s when the real fun begins.
Sometimes others have plans and you tag along, sometimes you have no idea what to do and side with a spontaneous decision. Those are always my favorite memories. The stories you hear and the friendships you make can last a lifetime. Not to mention, more connections around the globe only give you more reason to travel. So the next time you’re planning a trip, consider a hostel instead of a hotel.