When we travel, we want to experience new things, meet new people, and expand our boundaries. Normally, the simple act of spending time in another country delivers this, but I would like to take a fairly radical step by putting forth the notion that hostels are a great place to accomplish all three things, in addition. Yes, hostels! As you’ll see, I believe I am absolutely justified in making this proposal.
When one tries to put together an itinerary for travel, inevitably the question of lodging pops up. Nowadays, there are three options: hotel, hostel, or AirBnB. I cannot vouch for the last option, but I would like to plead my case here-hostels are where it’s at. Yes, hotels are nice, you get comfort, and undoubtedly you avoid having people yell across the room at 4 in the morning, but is it the real travel experience? Over the last year or two, AirBnB has been full of controversy pertaining to its clientele and hosts, which offers its own unique set of issues. Again, I have never opted to partake in that when booking lodgings, so I freely concede I may be uninformed. But with those choices, there is a bit of a disconnect-you’re in your isolated world. Hostels thrust you into the beating heart of new locations, and that’s precisely why I love them.
Moving over to my entire point of this post, I would like to make the case that hostels should be your first option when doing research into your destination. If you’re like me and want to keep up with a quasi-budget for travel, hostels are your friend. The basic premise of hostels is that you get a bed and showers provided, with extra services such as free wifi, the possibility to book excursions, and key locations in cities, for between $15-20 a night. In paying for $120 (assuming you’re somewhere for a week) for lodging for trips, it frees you up to experience museums, excursions, and culinary tours without the nagging feeling of guilt. Sounds like a good deal, right? To me, it’s an absolute steal! Certainly, there’s a stereotype that hostels attract a variety of riff raff due to cheap prices, and that quality can vary; I concede that this is partially based in some truth, because lord knows I’ve seen some party animals. Sometimes the service(s) provided can be reflected in the prices of rooms, but that being said, these generally are exceptions and not the norm. Nowadays, hostels have evolved to offer the style and luxury of hotels for cheap: Sarajevo’s Franz Ferdinand hostel and Amsterdam’s CocoMama are prime examples of this. I picked these two to demonstrate that the progression and prestige of hostels are serious business, for which I’m eternally thankful for hosteliers treating it as such. Even in the case that issues that arise, you aren’t even losing money if you decide to cut your stay short, and inevitably you’ll discover alternative options, who may even materialize on the same street. Just do some proper research ahead of time, i.e. reading reviews and viewing the pictures provided, and things will work out. (If you’re into partying with like minded individuals, this also is beneficial.) All in all, hostels are the biggest bang for the buck, which summarily allows you to spend more bucks on even more bangs.
However, the crux of my argument comes from finding gems and meeting some amazing people. I’ve lost count of all the fantastic fellow travelers I’ve met in hostels (thanks guys, you know who you are!), and this has definitely contributed to my overall experience whilst traveling. In fact, plenty of us got together for beers as well as other excursions! Had we not stayed at these hostels, I doubt any of us would have met, and our trips wouldn’t have been the same. An anecdote I like to share to reinforce this is my time in Estonia. My excellent hostel, the Red Emperor, was full of great, like-minded travelers, and a few nights we would just get beers from the tap and talk and relax. That was it, but time absolutely flew by, proving the adage correct. Days later, we all (unintentionally) ran into each other in Tallinn, further providing us the opportunity to bond. For what it’s worth, some of my best experiences whilst on the road have come from the late night shenanigans spent with members of my hostel. By all means I’m not trying to marginalize what I did and saw, but if anything, these nights further enhanced the magical wonder. If I stayed in a hotel or an AirBnB, the likelihood of events like this happening would be slim to none. Even to this day, I still talk with the friends I made on those wonderful nights throughout the years!
In conclusion, opt for hostels. They give you an immediate connection to cities thanks to their strategic locations as well as providing a constant stream of friends. So, what are you waiting for? Travel!