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Barcelona! I stayed in a hostel here. PHOTO: Sarah Lofgren

Why you should stay in a hostel

No, you probably won’t die

In 2006 a little movie called Hostel came out and the word “hostel” suddenly became synonymous with “super creepy place where various parts of my body will be cut off and I will probably die”. This is not fair to 86% of hostels.

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Not actually me or my husband. Photo by arvin febry on Unsplash

More moolah in your pocket (or wallet, or purse, or whatever)

Staying in hostels makes travel way more affordable. While some hostels are surprisingly expensive, most are fairly cheap. For my husband and I, this means that we can travel more often, take longer trips and sometimes even have extra cash for things like a good meal or fun experience while we’re on the road.

Free wifi, breakfast and other perks

Granted this isn’t the case for every single hostel ever, but many of them do have good stuff included in the price. Paying for things like wifi can add up fast. (You want to get those instagram posts up as quickly as possible! Otherwise, why travel?)

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This is a photo of the meaning of life. Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Personality aplenty

People who run hostels tend to be a little eccentric and that’s a good thing. While all the hotels belonging to specific chains have the same corporate-dictated look, hostels have personality in spades.

Killer locations

(Killer meaning great, not killer meaning someone will kill you.)

Opportunities to socialize

This is especially true if you’re traveling alone, but it applies to couples and those traveling in groups as well. A weird thing about traveling is that it can become isolating. Ideally you travel to meet people, but that’s easier said than done.

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Duck attempting yoga. Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash

So what are the drawbacks?

Drawbacks can be minimized if you do your research in advance, but hostels aren’t glamorous.

  • The showers can be cold
  • The beds aren’t the most comfortable things you’ll ever experience
  • There probably won’t be a tv in your room
  • At times hostels can be noisy (I bring earplugs with me, so I won’t be kept up by drunken revelers returning at 3am, yelling, slamming doors and puking in the hallway. This has only happened a few times, but it’s good to be prepared.)
  • A sleep mask
  • A padlock for your belongings (dorm rooms usually have lockers) (there’s a bit of a code amongst hostel travelers not to steal each others’ stuff, but it’s still best not to risk it)
  • Earplugs
  • Pajamas (I don’t care if you usually sleep naked; doing it in a dorm environment is rude)
  • Antacids (if you’re a farter)

Why hostels and not airbnb?

Airbnb can be a great option, but it falls short in a few ways:

  • No tours, fun breakfasts, or opportunities to socialize.
  • Surprise cancellations. This has happened to me several times on airbnb, where I’ll book a space, everything will seem cool, but then the host suddenly cancels, leaving me scrambling to find another place to stay (now that all the inexpensive options are already booked).
  • Confusing locations. In general, hostels are a little bigger and easier to find. Airbnb locations can be confusing and, when you don’t speak the local language, that makes them even harder to track down.
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“Hiker takes a photograph of a castle on the top of a lush mountain” by Sylwia Bartyzel on Unsplash

Written by

Engaged in inadvisable wordsmitheries and other creative acts. http://sarahlofgren.com

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