Last Updated: 3/20/21 | March 20th, 2021 (Original post: 1/31/2019)
People are always shocked when they find out I that I still stay in hostels.
“Aren’t you too old for that?”
“Why would you still want to do that?”
“Don’t you actually make money? Are you still too broke for an Airbnb?”
“How do you even sleep?”
And what’s even more shocking to people is that while I often stay in private rooms in hostels, I also still stay in dorms!
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I still stay in hostels? I usually have plenty of hotel points from travel hacking. Why don’t I just stay in nice hotels?
Well, three reasons:
1. I’m cheap. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I started out — and stayed — a budget traveler because I just don’t like to spend money.
Especially on rooms I’ll only be in for a few hours.
I look at prices for hotels and private rooms and think, “Well, a dorm is only $10, so why not?!”
True, I often regret that decision since I also don’t get a good night’s rest but money is money — and hostels are cheap!
2. They provide me with on-the-ground information about what budget travelers and backpackers are doing. (First came the backpackers, then everyone else, I like to say.) Backpackers and hostel staff know where to find things to do on a budget. They have lots of hacks and are a good source of information and resources I might not know about.
I can learn about new apps, get hot tips, and discover places or events to check out. They know the best markets, cheap places to eat, and off-beat destinations.
Hostels are where I get the information I can use to unlock the mystery of how to see a destination on a budget. They are my source of travel trends and insider tips.
In fact, I think hostels, their staff, and the backpacker crowd are an underutilized resource – regardless of your age or travel style. You don’t get travelers swapping tips at a hotel bar the way you do a hostel bar. So, if you’re looking for information — a hot new attraction, a cool local tour, new restaurants, a great dive bar, tips on getting around cheaper — go to a hostel.
Most hostels have bars or cafes open to the public until a certain hour. Meet some backpackers. Make some friends. Learn something new!
Additionally, even if you aren’t staying at a hostel, you can still go inside and ask the staff questions. They field more inquiries about “unique, weird, and local” things to do than your Airbnb host or a hotel concierge. Take advantage of their insight!
3. I like the social vibe of hostels. While hotels do offer better sleep, they are also boring. And while Airbnbs are a decent middle ground, they’ve been inching up in price over the years (and contributing to overtourism along the way).
Hostels, on the other hand, are full of friendly travelers. I can swap tips, have a few conversations, get some travel buddies, and generally socialize. They are perfect if I want to find people to join me as I hit the museum, the bar, and everything in between
Hostels are just fun. I miss them when I’m not staying at them.
There’s usually a bar, events going on, activities, people hanging out, a pool table – there are lots of ways to connect with other travelers in a hostel.
The common areas are meant for people to interact. Even if I’m not looking for a rager, it’s still nice to head down, grab a beer, and chat with people for a bit.
How could I ever leave that? It’s way better than watching Netflix!
Of course, there are days when I need to catch up on work or just want to relax after a few busy days of socializing. For those occasions, I might get an Airbnb or hotel. But for every other day? Hostels are my favorite.
I may not be the most hardcore “budget” traveler these days but I don’t ever see myself not staying in hostels for at least part of my travels.
For me, they are home. You should make them your home too.
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Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation. They are what keep me traveling so much for so little. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.