I asked my 22-year-old niece, just back from summer travels in Europe, to give us the inside scoop on hosteling. Learn her list of myth-busting tips and packing must-haves.
AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO HOSTELING
by Madeleine Clute
My first foray into hosteling was at the end of high school when some friends and I took a road trip to Quebec, Canada, and it’s been my preferred method of seeing new places since. Most recently, my friend Elizabeth and I traveled on students’ budgets for 30-days in Europe, spanning 10 cities and 8 countries, primarily staying in hostels. At this point, while I may not be the world’s greatest hosteling expert, I do feel as if I’ve gotten a good sense of how they work, and what generally to expect.
For me, hosteling has been a lot of fun. But when I talk to friends about it, they seem apprehensive. The resistance I’ve encountered has ranged from the normal “but I’d be sleeping in a room with strangers!” to the absurd ,“but what if they’re after my organs?!” (this was after said friend watched the movie 2005 horror movie, Hostel, one too many times).
These concerns always make me sad, since I feel like hosteling is a great experience for a lot of people once they try it, so first, I’ll try to put your mind at ease about hosteling, and then, if you’re still reading, give you some tips on what to pack so you can enjoy your stay.
GETTING PAST THE COMMON “BUTS”
But I’d have to share a room with strangers!
Yes, this is mostly true, and this is what allows hostels to be vastly cheaper than hotels while still maintaining basic standards of cleanliness and safety. I would argue however, that this is much the same as living in a college dormitory, and while some fellow travelers might snore or come back inebriated at undesirable hours of the early morning, they are largely a harmless bunch and are not looking to kill you in your sleep (you survived college after all!). Every hostel I have encountered offers a “female only” dorm option, for women who would prefer to not share a room with men. If this still isn’t your cup of tea, many hostels feature “private rooms” which are basically like hotel rooms within the hostel, and are great for couples or those travelling with children. While more expensive than the dorm rooms, they are still are cheaper than a traditional hotel room. Most hostel websites will have these options/prices listed.