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frugal travel accomodation: the joys of hostelling

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hostel signWhen I travel abroad, I nearly always stay in a Youth Hostel. The first reason that I stay there is because they are inexpensive, ranging in price from say $5 to $50 a night, depending on your location,  anywhere  in the world.

the benefits

For that money you’ll get a bed in a dorm, and a shared bathroom. You’ll also get to meet other like-minded budget travellers. They are generally an entertaining bunch of people who have just come from where you are going next, and can be keen to enjoy a chat.

Hostels are great places to find all the information you need to enjoy a budget trip. There are details on cheaper excursions, and day trips. Staff are used to travellers without a lot of cash and can get them in on the best deals. On my trips, my friends and I have saved money on Maori cultural trips in New Zealand, buses to Niagara Falls in Canada, surfing lessons in Australia, and boat trips in Slovakia.

Other advantages often include a place to do laundry (helpful if you are packing light), a kitchen so that you could save money on food, and free or inexpensive internet access. Some places have had bars, comfortable shared living rooms with TVs, bikes to borrow and free food. I’ve stayed at a hostel with a hot tub, one with a goth club downstairs, and even one with a pet 2m long crocodile.

you may not know

These days, not all hostels have bunk beds, chores and curfews. In fact, hardly any have chores, although you’re likely to be expected to make your own bed, and clean up after yourself in the kitchen. Some hostels still have curfews - you may be locked out during the day and shut in at night - but these are less frequent, especially with an independent hotel. Although many hostels do have bunk beds, I spent 3 weeks in New Zealand only using hostels with proper beds, and they’re becoming more common elsewhere.

If you don’t want to share a room with strangers, many hostels have smaller rooms that can be booked out for small groups of friends, family rooms, and also regular doubles and singles. These may or may not be en suite, but they are generally inexpensive, and you have the same access to the great facilities and easy to make friends as people in dorms.

what do you think?

As you can tell, I’m a hostel fan. The first one I ever stayed in was in New York in 2000, and the last one was in Washington DC when I was over there last November/December.

Whether you’ve stayed in hostels, or you haven’t considered it before, let me know what you think in the comments. 

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11 comments for “frugal travel accomodation: the joys of hostelling”

  1. Never stayed in a hostel however I’ve had friends who have stayed in them. The found it a pleasant and met some new “friends”. I saw “friends” because one of them stole one of my friends cameras while she slept. But theres sour apples everywhere you go.
    I have learn’t to be very frugal when it came to accommodation’s in foreign destinations. One great idea is to hit a boardwalk or some friendly pubs/bars and try and meet someone and befriend them (a local) and sometimes you can get a free stay in a home, which ain’t bad at all and usually free. <—– Cooking experience is a great bonus for you as you can offer to make a dish for supper for your host which is great for both of you.

    Posted by Save Money | April 2, 2008, 1:01 pm
  2. I’ve had good and bad hostel experiences. We stayed in a great one in Naples and did indeed make some friends but some items went astray from the room and the tension between everyone cooled considerably. Years ago I stayed in a fabulous old hostel near St. Malo where every morning we were served bowls of hot chocolate and pain au chocolat, best start to the day ever.

    Posted by Looby | April 2, 2008, 3:14 pm
  3. Oh you crazy Brits…most people in the U.S. would never consider such a thing - it’s a shame really!

    Posted by David | April 2, 2008, 3:56 pm
  4. @Save Money:
    I can honestly say that I’d be more scared of staying in someone’s home than in a hostel, but I bet it’s generally safe, and a great way to meet locals.

    I’ve always wanted to go to St Malo, now I know where to stay. Just to confirm that you do need to use some common sense in a hostel, but if you are willing to go with it, you can have great experiences, and if you don’t like it, then it’s usually time to move on.

    Americans have a lot to learn about possibly the greatest thing since sliced bread in that case :)

    Posted by plonkee | April 2, 2008, 6:47 pm
  5. Despite what David says, I have a few friends who did the whole travel in Europe by staying at hostels thing. I was always with family…but it seems like an appealing concept. Even bunk beds would be ok for a few days.

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | April 2, 2008, 7:43 pm
  6. Oh yeah it’s an absolutely great way to get to know the culture first hand, that is if they make the meal for you haha. I’m more used to finding deals in top resorts and hotels rather then using locals, but they help when there are no deals available and even if you can’t get a bed that night you can just get in on a hostel anyway.

    Posted by Save Money | April 2, 2008, 8:30 pm
  7. I love hostels. If you’re traveling alone, they’re a great way to meet people to hang out with/share a cab to the airport with.

    In case anyone’s still confused by the name, they’re not just for the under-26 set–age restrictions are a thing of the past.

    Posted by Working Rachel | April 3, 2008, 1:48 am
  8. Hostels are great deals. I stayed at one during my Cancun trip earlier this year. It was $38 for four nights. I couldn’t have gotten one night at a hotel for that first price.

    Posted by Tight Fisted Miser | April 6, 2008, 1:16 am
  9. I stayed in hostels when I backpacked through Europe in college. I wouldn’t have been able to afford the trip if we didn’t stay in hostels. We usually paid a little bit more for a private room…but it was great!

    Posted by SavingDiva | April 7, 2008, 2:50 pm
  10. I’ve stayed at hostels in western countries with private rooms for 2. We’re a retired couple in late 60s and early 70s. They are terrific places with very simple and small rooms mostly with shared bathrooms –perfectly OK and the lounges and shared bathrooms are clean and well stocked. The locations are generally very central. In Southeast Asia the lodgings available on hostelbookers and like websites include budget hotels with ensuite bathrooms. You meet interesting people and have access to a lot of good budget information. They are safe, fun and inexpensive. Also look into the keyword hospitality exchange. We use this frequently & find we meet great people, share adventures and stay for FREE. We also host people in our home in NYC. We especially like hospitalityclub.org and globalfreeloaders.com.

    Posted by Pat T | April 27, 2008, 4:57 pm

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