Since I’m a “starving student” that loves to travel I often have to save money and cut corners on insignificant things when I travel like accommodation. I also travel solo most of the time so staying in hostels instead of hotels works the best for me; it not only saves me money but I’ve met some life long friends by staying in hostels. I’ve put together a few tips to help you find the right hostel based on your preferences. I know, especially when you’re a rookie traveler, finding the right hostel can be a bit of a daunting task especially if you’ve never even stayed in one. Hopefully my tips come in handy and you can definitely trust me, I’ve stayed in good and bad hostels but after several years of traveling I think I have the process figured out.
1. Pull up a map online of the city you will be staying in and find either the city center, the nightlife area (if that’s what you’re into) or the most central area to most attractions or transportation.
2. Once you’ve located on a map the area you want to stay in log on to a hostel booking website. My two favorite are:
3. Once you’ve typed in where you want to stay and your dates you’ll see a list of places that are available and the price per night. Usually you can filter the list by price, area or rating. I usually filter by area first. Then I narrow my choices down based on the rating and price. As far as a good price goes, you can get an idea of what’s average, what’s cheap and what’s expensive based off the list you’re given. Never go with the cheapest (usually far from main areas) and never go with the most expensive (often you can get a hotel for cheaper).
4. Rating is the most important aspect to look at when booking a hostel. I never stay somewhere that has below an 80% rating. The whole point is not just to save money but to meet interesting people and have a good experience.
5. Narrow it down to 3-4 choices then read good and bad reviews about the hostel. I tend to look for things like “I had a great time, the staff is friendly and it’s a great social atmosphere and close to (insert desired attraction here).” ( Also a good review of the showers is a bonus, you would be surprised how much a good hot shower makes you feel after a night of partying.) If it’s rated 80% or higher take the bad reviews with a grain of salt, sometimes people are very picky and sometimes they just get that rare bad experience.
6. Once you’ve read the reviews look at where the hostel is located and make sure it’s close to public transportation if needed. The only exceptions to public transport would be if you have a car or if the place you’re traveling to is a resort/beach town. Obviously you would rather be by the beach if that’s the case.
7. Decide on one of the hostels based on your budget and preferences. Sometimes you have to compromise, like maybe a hostel is a few dollars less per night but you have to walk 10 minutes to get to the main city area. Decide what you will and won’t sacrifice and then decide from there.
8. BOOK IT! Make sure you get a confirmation email and ALWAYS print this out and take it with you when you go on your trip. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to get my confirmation out because they couldn’t find me on the reservation. Did I say print out the confirmation? PRINT OUT THE CONFIRMATION!
BONUS: I like to also print a map of where my hostel is just in case I get lost or I need help finding it. A lot of the times, especially in Europe, the hostels are upstairs or kind of hidden so a map always helps.