This was a question from a friend who’d never stayed in a hostel and who swore he could never do it. I’ve heard this or similar questions from friends time and time again, and it’s one that continues to baffle and amaze me, particularly because I’ve had some of my best travel memories while staying in hostels.
Now, I love a cozy Airbnb or hotel as much as the next gal, and more often than not I crave the privacy that they guarantee me. But that is not to say that hostels don’t have their place in the travel experience. In fact, some of my nearest and dearest friends who I’ve made while traveling are people I encountered while staying in hostels.
So while I’m not deleting my Airbnb account any time soon and err on the side of private accommodation these days, I’m still an advocate of the well-researched hostel stay and its many benefits. Here’s why I still stay in hostels occassionally.
1. Hostels are budget friendly
If you’re on a tight budget (which, let’s face it, most of us are), hostels are a great way to save some money. I’ve been able to find budget options as low as $5 while traveling through Asia, and before you think the thought let me hasten to advise you it was cleaner than some hotels I’ve seen.
2. It’s a great way to meet people
While staying in hotels and Airbnb have their fair share of perks (anyone else enjoys walking around without clothes?) if you’re traveling solo it can be difficult to meet people. Since hostels almost always have a lot of solo travelers it’s an easy way to meet others.
3. Coaxes me out of my comfort zone
I don’t know about anyone else but I have been known to check into a hotel and stay there for 5 days without meeting a single person. And it’s not because I’m antisocial. It’s just that sometimes it’s harder for me to strike up conversations with strangers in a hotel lobby or at breakfast. Hostels on the other hand, generally have lounge areas dedicated to mingling, so it’s that much easier to meet other travelers. This is great for introverts.
4. I get to join pre-planned group activities
Another pain point for solo travelers can be finding activities to engage in that don’t require booking a tour. In my experience, many hostels coordinate activities that are often free for guests to participate in and it’s an added perk I’ve come to enjoy. While staying in Cambodia one hostel (to this day one of my favorites – Lub D) hosted daily activities at minimal to no cost and it was a great way to meet other guests.
5. Possible opportunity to work and save
While this perk is not as common as many of the others, I was able to volunteer at a hostel in Malaysia in exchange for accommodation. While this arrangement was made through the WorkAway platform, some hostels will accept random requests from guests for help. There’s generally a minimum requirement of a week or so though, so you should be prepared to earn your keep. But two to four hours at a front desk checking in guests is not a bad way to earn a meal and accommodation for a night while meeting some awesome folks!
What was your experience like if you’ve ever stayed in a hostel? If you’ve never stayed in a hostel what’s your biggest fear? I’d love to hear it! Let’s chat in the comments.