I believe the two biggest expenses that scare people from traveling are Airfare and lodging. But there is a way to SAVE BIG!
People see a plane ticket price (higher than anything they have paid before) and immediately in their minds it becomes expensive and unattainable. The same happens with lodging; the mentality is that the beach resorts and city hotels are expensive and therefore making the trips once again, unattainable and undoable.
Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. Luckily, there are hostels and boutique hotels as an option to reduce budget for travel. But unfortunately, there are many skeptics that would not consider hostels as an option due to bad publicity on TV or movies, or because they think Hostels are only for college students, they are uncomfortable, etc.
That’s all overrated and too hyped!
Of course, as a general rule anywhere you go whether at home or abroad; don’t get in taxis or vehicles with strangers, don’t accept offers that are too good to be true, watch out for drinks at bars and clubs, dont walk in dark allyways late at night. Also, always use the certified transportation and do research about safe areas.
But what is it really like to stay in a Hostel?
- First, NO, they don’t kidnap or kill people like the movies portray. Like anywhere in the world, there are good people and bad people, and there are great areas and not so great areas. Do your research, ask locals and stay within those good areas. Also take security measure that you would anywhere you go (avoid lonely dark streets, people that looks suspicious, taking things from strangers, etc).
- It’s all about location, location, location – like anything else in life, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, things can go south. That’s why its important to do research about the ares you are staying.
- They are low budget lodging that offers reasonable services to have a pleasant stay.
- Not every country or town has ultra low budget hostels. Looks ahead of time if that’s the case, so that you can look for alternatives. Some towns only offer “boutique hotels” or the 3 stars hotels. This is important to know because it can increase your budget significantly since, for example, instead of spending $20/night you will be spending $80/night (a huge difference if you are staying 1 week, right?).
- Many options are available, that include suites, single/double/triple bedrooms, and multi-bed dorms (I’ve seen all the way to 20 beds in one room). Again, the more beds in a room, the cheaper it is. So if you don’t mind your neighbor snoring, or people coming in and out of the room at various times, then dorms are not a problem for you.
- You will find that people staying in dorms are respectful of your sleep and your belongings.
- You will meet people that you have lots of things in common and instantly creating a great bonding.
- If booking from major websites (there are tons of them) and read and compare all the reviews before you book. Make sure you are getting what you are looking for (ex: looking for quite room, party scene, place for solo travelers, wifi, free-breakfast, etc..). By booking through major website you avoid scams and disappointments and going to shady locations. You can also contact the hostel directly to avoid the middle man and most likely saving a few bucks.
Different arrays of rooms and bed combinations are available. From single suits with 1-3 beds, to up to 20 bunk beds in a single room. Keep in mind that the more people in your room the least expensive that rooms gets. But that doesn’t mean that a single suite is un-affordable since usually the price usually jumps x2-4 times the price of a multiple-bed room.
Your room wont be made or your bed made everyday like it would on a chain hotel (Hilton, Marriott, etc).
Also, expect the size to be smaller (a bed and a night table) will be pretty much what fits in the room.
Some countries due to their climate, dont have A/C. so keep that in mind.
Services and amenities
Some hostels might include a shuttle to the main attractions (airports, museums, nightlife, etc) for free or for a fee, but its worth asking once you arrive. This is a great way to explore the town at a low cost in a trusting way.
Nowadays, free Wifi is standard, but make sure your hostels has it, must most importantly make sure that the wifi reaches your room. Sometimes free wifi is only included on common areas but not rooms.
Free walking tours are available at certain times of the days. This is great way to meet others and save money.
Depending on the type of room that you chose, it may or may not have a private bathroom, which means that you might have to share the shower with multiple people. This might sound like an inconvenience but this is the way to keep prices low. To beat this you only have to carry your pair of flip flop while showering and bring your own toiletries bag while brushing your teeth and showering. Not as bad as you think.
Bathrooms can be mixed, but they are all have cubicles for showers and toilets so that you are in complete privacy.
Social and Entertainment
You would be surprised how many people you are also staying at hostels for the same exact reason you are (save money, meet people, etc), so that means we all have something in common. It is so easy to start a conversation with someone and share stories, help each other and give suggestions of places you have been or are going, that once you start you wont want to stop. It gets addicting. There will be people that have travel less than you and other that have traveled way more that you and those will be the inspiration to continue traveling.
Read the review for the hostel since some are more social oriented than others. I´ve stayed at hotels where you only saw people in the morning during breakfast and others where there was a party at all times of the day.
Party hostels usually have a bar on site or have connections with a near-by club, which means that evenings will be fun.
Also, most hostels will have a game room and gathering room for everyone to socialize including board games, pools table, fuzzball, among others..
Most places will have a key to lock/unlock the room, or others let you borrow or rent a lock for your room. If staying in a dorm, everyone in the room will get a key. You will find a locker inside to put your belongings. I always advise carrying a personal lock to secure any personal valuables if you feel necessary.
It is on the best interest of everyone in the room to keep their belongings safe, that;s why they respect other’s and always lock the room when leaving.
Kitchen area is also available with fridge and stove to prepare your own meals. Near-by grocery shops are available for your convenience. This is a great way to save money and stay on budget.
Of course, always put your name and keep an eye on your stuff as food could mysteriously disappear 🙂
Most of the Hostels will offer free breakfast (and by that I mean a piece of toast, cheese, juice and coffee), but some might get you eggs, ham, fruits, etc… It really comes down to the price you paid for the room. But also if its not free, they might charge an affordable amount for breakfast which might be cheaper than anywhere else in town and also more convenient and faster. This is a very good option if you want to save time by not going around trying to find food.