Staying in hostels for the first time can be quite daunting, especially if you are on your own in a foreign country, but unfortunately for those of us who love to travel and want more than just a two-week holiday per year, staying in a hostel is the only viable option to make it all affordable.
The good news is that most modern-day hostels are nothing like what you might have heard and certainly nothing like you might have seen in certain horror films! In fact, many are much like hotels with the same facilities. The only difference is that you share a room with strangers.
Everyone else who is staying in a hostel are in the same boat as you, they are on holiday or an overnight stay and looking for somewhere cheap and clean to sleep. If that’s all you want, and you don’t particularly want to make any friends then that’s fine, but if you do want to make new friends, perhaps in the hope of having a companion to explore the city with, then hostels provide the best environment to do just that.
When booking you’ll know how many other beds are in your room, the more beds the cheaper your night will generally be, so book what makes you feel most comfortable. You’ll generally find that everyone in your room will be quiet and respectful. Even if you don’t wish to make friends, it can be nice just to see a couple of familiar faces at the start and end of each day.
For those that want to make friends but are too shy to approach people, try asking some basic questions as an icebreaker. Even if it’s just asking someone what time breakfast is or if they know which way the nearest showers are.
Whilst everyone in your room is in the same boat, you still need to remember that they are strangers. Keep your wits about you and your belongings safe. When you leave the room always keep your bags and belongings locked up. Most hostels either provide you with a draw under your bed or a locker in the room. But when booking your hostel, it’s important to know the setup and what you’ll get before you go!
It’s important to bear in mind that in most hostels (in fact pretty much all of them) you’ll be sharing a bathroom and, in some cases, especially across Europe, many have communal showers. So, if this is going to be a deal breaker, check out that facilities before you book. Generally, the shared bathroom and showing facilities are not that much different to going to your local gym.
Some hostels have kitchen areas for you to prepare your own food and others provide a cafe/restaurant area instead.
WiFi and clothes washing facilities are generally standard in all hostels, but again, check this out before booking.
Most hostels provide some sort of communal area for its guests, like a lounge area or games room. Work out what you need out of the hostel before booking and find somewhere that suits you.
Most website like booking.com will show you customer reviews of each hostel or hotel. Especially when booking a hostel, read them before you go. You’ll generally find that if there are any complaints or areas that fall below standard, that most customers will be saying the same thing.