6 Essential Questions to Ask Before Staying in a Hostel
The hostel traveler is often one who seeks adventure, has a passion for making new friends, and desires to avoid the corporate world of hotels and resorts (either by choice or due to a collegiate budget). When deciding to go the route of the hostel, it is necessary to examine whether or not it will fit with your level of comfort – while the hosteling world is friendly, it is also a little dirtier, rougher, and less refined then traveling with Hilton.
Here are 6 questions to ask yourself before planning your hostel stay:
Question #1: What does my budget allow?
Many people stay in hostels simply because it is less expensive (although this is not as true in the United States as it is in the rest of the world). If your finances are limited to $50-$100/day in Europe or $25-$50/day in South America and Asia, then the hostel may be your best, and only, financial option.
Question #2: Can I handle roommates?
One of the greatest thrills, and fears, of hostel travel is the fact that you will be sharing a room with 3-20 other travels of either gender. This is great for people interested in meeting others, but this also means that you will have people entering and leaving the room at all hours, whispered conversations throughout the night, and alarms blaring at 5 am.
Question #3: Do I have valuables that I cannot lose?
There is a common respect between hostellers. I accidently left my passport on my bed while showering and it was still there when I returned. I have also seen iPods, phones, and cameras that people have left in the room all day – with no problem. But sadly there are still crooks. If you have large sums of cash, important documents, or equipment worth thousands of dollars, you may prefer the safety of your own room in a hotel.
Question #4: What kinds of attractions do I want to experience?
Hostelling gives you an “in” that is often missed out when staying at a resort. Most hostellers want to get past the traditional touristy activities and will talk with locals and other travellers to find venues and attractions that the family with 2.3 kids from Manhattan will miss out on. Hostels are a great place to get insights from other travelers and locals on the best places to check out in a city.
Question #5: Do I want social interaction with people outside my group?
If you are going on vacation with your family or a “clicky” group of friends, then even if you stay in hostels you may not get the full hostel experience. But if you are traveling alone, with a small group, or an incredibly social group, then hostels are perfect. Breakfast is eaten together, stories are swapped, and you find a new best friend every day.
From my personal experience, while in Rome I travelled to the Vatican with a Frenchman and a Mexican one day, went to the Coliseum with a few girls from Denmark the next day, and then spent my last day at a Mediterranean beach with an Australian and two America girls studying abroad. Hostels are great for making friends and creating stories together.
Question #6: Do I have common sense?
Those who chose to travel by hostel often have little money – which means that you will try to cut costs wherever possible. Be careful. It is common knowledge that all travelers have some money, and in some countries, a broke Westerner is still rich. Be smart, use common sense, and your trip will be memorable and enjoyable.
Hostel travel is a blast - especially for college students. I did my first big trip before Facebook – but several trips since then I have made friends who I still keep in touch with over the internet. In fact, if you’re social enough during your travels, the next trip you go on may be to visit friends you have made through previous travels.
Backpacking Europe or Asia is something that every college student should experience. As you discover the giganticness of the world, the incredible variety of cultures and peoples, you discover the smallness of your previous world. Traveling provides you with perspective – and gaining new perspectives is invaluable in business, relationships, and success in life.