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Hostels or “Hostiles”?

This section is entirely for those that have never stayed in a Hostel.  Between the two of us, we’ve stayed in hundreds.  If the majority of them weren’t good experiences we wouldn’t be writing this trying to get you to give them a shot.

 Photos on this page taken from Google Images

As much as Kristin would like to stay at Ritz-Carlton’s all around the world for two years, doing so would blow our savings really quickly.  But actually, we have had really good experiences in hostels and would probably still stay in them during our travels even if we were millionaires.  So let’s clear up any negative misconceptions about hostels.  Hostels are basically like dorms for travelers.  There is a huge community of travelers of various ages who frequent them.  You meet interesting people from all nationalities who are traveling for various length of times.

Typical 8 person Dorm Room

Hostel prices vary greatly by country but are a great value.  For example, the cheapest hostels we have stayed in were $5/night per person (Prague and Panama) and the highest has been $45/night per person (Norway). Hostel rooms have various configurations that vary in price.  The larger rooms can sleep as many as 16 people (in bunk beds) and are cheaper.  For a little more, most hostels have private rooms for two or rooms for just a few people; 8 person mixed-sex rooms seem to be the most common. We’ve stayed in some hostels that were exactly like hotels.  They almost always have at least one lounge, a computer lab, free WiFi, security, and a kitchen.  Some even offer breakfast  and other meals.  The front desks offer lots of information for guests and many offer discounts for local places, tours, social outings, etc.  You will also find a wealth of information from swapping stories with fellow travelers; something you rarely get in your own personal hotel room.  We have met some wonderful friends in hostels.

$5 room in Prague

Shared Bathroom at $5 hostel in Prague

Advantages of Hostels

Cost – in almost all cases, cheaper than hotels
Location – they’re everywhere, and almost always in the heart of major cities where all the action’s taking place
Information – you’re not going to find a better place to find information about the surrounding area. Fellow travelers, bulletin boards, and front desks will give you the inside scoop on everything there is to do!
Kitchen – almost all hostels have kitchens. You can cut down on food costs by cooking on your own
Character – unlike most hotels where you pretty much know what to expect in a room, hostels come in all varieties. You might be staying in an old historic castle, nestled in a local’s basement, or in a tin-shack with howler monkeys outside your door. They can be some pretty unique places that you’ll never forget!
 

Hostel Lounge in Croatia

We’ve actually been able to convince quite a few of our U.S. friends to give hostels a chance (they pictured them as smelly, rundown, and noisy accommodations), and in the end they all pretty much agreed that you’re not going to find a better way to go if you’re looking to get the most out of a destination, and on the cheap. Now we’re not saying that hostels don’t come with their downsides. Occasionally you’re going to have the incredibly loud snorer, or the traveler that smells like he hasn’t showered in a month, or the drunk guy that tries to sneak a hooker in from off the street. And every once in a while you’ll run into a place where there’s no A/C and it feels like 100 degrees in the room, showers only have cold water, and a toilet seat is missing from the bathroom stalls. But this is all pretty rare. When you reserve hostels ahead of time you have the chance to read numerous reviews and ratings on your upcoming stay. It’s not hard to pick out the rotten apples from the more respectable places.

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