If you’re young and travelling on a budget, the chances are you won’t be staying in 5* hotels everywhere you go. Youth hostels are your best bet; they’re cheap, they’re cheerful, and there are no curfews. In fact, some of my ultimately favourite memories from travelling happened inside the hostel. So, how come people still shudder at the thought of staying in hostels? Get rid of the idea that they’re all bed-bug ridden and unsafe and figure out how to have the best time ever.
- Chat to EVERYONE. And I mean, everyone. Most of the people in traveller’s hostels, from the guy who checks you in to the person you bump into cleaning your teeth, have some really great stories. There’s a reason why by the end of your trip you’ll roll your eyes at hearing another ‘Yeah, so I came to stay here for a few nights and never left…’ Hostels are full of people from all over the world, so open your mind (and your mouth) and learn something completely random from someone you’ll never see again.
- Take advantage of the free breakfast! Say you’re travelling Italy on a budget…would you rather spend 10 euro on a minuscule coffee (without milk, too) and a croissant, or would you rather suck it up, eat the dry cornflakes provided by your hostel, and spend that money on beer? Duuuh…
- Get involved in the activities they have to offer. When I stayed in Rome and Krakow my friends and I took full advantage of the bar crawls/tram parties/bus parties that the hostels had to offer, and had the coolest time ever. This is such a great way to meet people, plus if you’re travelling alone it gives you the option to party without worrying about having to get back to your accommodation alone 🙂
- Be cool with communal cooking. Chat to people in the kitchen, share your food, ask for the recipe of whatever amazing meal they’ve just made, and make plans to cook together the following day. You’ll be amazed at the things you can learn if you open your mind to cooking and eating with strangers.
- Relaaax. Don’t be that person who sighs loudly and shoots daggers when someone comes in at 5am, lugging a suitcase behind them and tripping over every item left on the floor. You’re all part of the traveller’s community, and it’s nice to be nice. If you know you’re super grumpy after a night of broken sleep then fork out for a private room. If you choose to share a room with 10 other people, it’s inevitable that someone will wake you up. You can choose to hate them, or you can introduce yourself and have a 3am natter about their flight from Brazil.
My main point here is lighten up. How often do you get to have these experiences? Yes, some hostels can be gross. Granted. But if you do your research and choose one with good reviews, chances are it’ll contribute to your experience massively.