Hostels are well-known for being budget-friendly and filled with backpackers. However, not all hostels are created equal, and choosing the wrong one could put a damper on your trip. Before booking, read this list of tips to help you decide which hostel is your perfect fit.
Create an itinerary
In the city you’re visiting, what are the must-see attractions on your to-do list? Are there any sites or regions that you’ll be going to more than once? Once you have this narrowed down, pull out a map or do a Google search and see which neighborhood(s) you will be spending the most time in. If you want convenience, choose a hostel that will allow you to walk to the places you will be spending the most time in. Now if this area happens to be a major city, you will probably end up paying extra. If you’re more interested in saving money, choose a property in a smaller neighborhood and make sure that there is a metro or bus within walking distance of the hostel that will give you easy access to where you need to go.Know your personality
Like people, hostels also have personalities. Are you a party animal who likes to stay up all night? Look for a property with a bar or club on premises and no curfew. Do you like to meet new people or would you prefer a lot of alone time? Hostels with common areas like game rooms and kitchens tend to be more social in nature than those without. Are you a flashpacker who carries a lot of electronics? Making sure your hostel has security and lockers is a must. Before booking, just make sure to search through the amenities of a hostel to choose the one that offers the features that will make your trip better.
How much are you willing to spend?
Budget is a big factor in what accommodation you will choose. With hostels, there are a few ways to cut costs. As mentioned previously, if you’re willing to stay outside of the major cities and use public transportation regularly you can save quite a bit on your room. Choosing the dorm with the most beds is also cheaper than taking the room with more privacy. Moreover, certain amenities may be free at one hostel but cost money at another. For example, a hostel that includes breakfast can be worth looking into if you’re the type who likes to start their day off with a meal. Checking to see if things like linens, towels, lockers, airport/train pickup, tours, hot showers, and baggage storage are included can also be helpful if you plan on using these services. Bonus: If your hostel has a kitchen, you can save money by cooking meals instead of eating out.
Get a second opinion
Of course, if you’re reading the hostel’s website it is going to look like a luxury resort, with pristine rooms and a friendly staff. This is not always the truth, however, and before booking it is important to do your homework. There is a wealth of resources on the internet to help you get answers. You can try perusing the well-known hostel booking sites that have been around for awhile, like HostelBookers and Hostelworld, that will give you property descriptions and traveler reviews. Newer booking sites, like inBed.me and GoMio, incorporate a social aspect to the booking process by allowing you to connect and interact with other travelers who have been to certain places or will be there in the future. Websites like Ajungo, which is basically a social network for travelers, can allow you to ask other people similar to you what their experiences were at certain hostels and see photos. You can also check out the site’s “Places” feature that allows you to see hostel recommendations made by people in your network.
Before booking a hostel, make sure that you are keeping your safety a priority. Get information on the crime in the neighborhood the property is in, check how close the nearest metro or bus stop is, and see what kinds of security measures the accommodation has in place. Do you need a key or code to get in the front door? Can anyone come into the hostel or only people with a room booked? Is there someone at the front desk 24 hours keeping guard? Are there lockers provided to store your valuables? Keep these questions in mind before booking.