As we all know, finding accommodations when you don’t know anyone in your travel destination can be wallet-crushingly expensive. That being said, it continues to blow my mind that it is still a common thought that one can’t travel unless they turn their pockets inside out and stay in a hotel. In this 2016 world that we live in, the opportunities for finding a place to stay are plentiful. Between staying at luxury resorts to couch-surfing, there is a place for everyone; and for those that like a happy medium, there are hostels.
But isn’t staying in a hostel dangerous?
Not if you do your homework.
There are plenty of misconceptions about staying in hostels, partially from the media, and partially from lack of experience. I’m not saying that any of the below NEVER happen, I’m just saying stuff your anecdotal evidence in a sack while reading on.
Misconception: You will be brutally murdered under the direction of Eli Roth
If a disproportionate number of you have indeed left your hostel stay with most of your friends dead and your eyeball hanging on your cheek, then please let me know (after seeking counselling) and I will revise this statement. The last time I heard of someone being murdered in a hostel was never ago, and I intend to keep it that way.
The hostel community, for the most part, is made up of wanderers looking for a budget-friendly way to see the world, not sadists looking to get their next kick. However, f you ever feel uncomfortable with another hostel-goer or staff member, let somebody know. You can always switch rooms, have another person stand on guard for you, or change hostels. Remember, your well-being and peace of mind come first.
Misconception: Hostels are only for young backpackers looking to have sex
Okay so maybe this isn’t entirely a misconception, as I can not speak for everyone and I have indeed heard stories of bunk beds a rockin’. However, more often than not, hostel-goers are respectful humans who wouldn’t blatantly have an orgasm in a room of eleven strangers whom they would have to face the next morning.
I have met all kinds of people in hostels – people who have found their lust for travel later in life, young people looking for quiet adventure, business types, party goers, and the list goes on. That being said, make sure you read the fine print upon booking as some hostels brand themselves as “youth hostels” (meaning you must be under the age of 35 to stay there), and some are all ages.
Misconception: Your belongings will get stolen from under your nose
That is, you’ll lessen the chance of theft if you’re smart and proactive. It is standard practice that most hostels come equipped with lockers of some sort; whether they are under the bed, stacked by the door, or even in the hostel lobby. Whenever I’m staying in a hostel the first thing I do is take my passport, keys, and back-up credit cards and stash them away hidden deep inside a bag in a locker, as I don’t want to be carrying those things around with me sightseeing.
Worried that your unlocked luggage will get taken while you are out of your room or sleeping? Ask yourself this question, who in the world would want your old rolled up jeans and dirty underwear? Okay maybe don’t answer that question. On that note, always bring a padlock and leave any unnecessary valuables at home.
Misconception: Hostels are run-down and gross
Sure, there are varying degrees of hostels, just as there are hotels and any other kind of accommodation, but a quick internet search will tell you whether you want to stay at a particular place or not. In this opinion-heavy information age that we live in, hostel reviews are abundant, and my advice is to trust them. Go on Yelp! and Hostelworld.com, for there is nobody better than people who have stayed at a place prior to you to give you the inside scoop.
Just like hotels, hostels live and die by customer experience, and it just is not good business practice to try and rip you off or not wash your sheets. Oh, and if anywhere you see the word “bedbugs”, abandon all hope and run for your life.
Misconception: There are only dorm-rooms available
Just because you have decided to stay in a hostel does not mean that you have to share a room with 20 other travelers. In fact, there are hostel options that offer varying degrees of comfort. There are co-ed dorms, female-only dorms, private family rooms, and private single-bed rooms. All options may either have an en suite or a shared bathroom. Do some digging and you’ll absolutely be able to find hostel accommodation that fits your specific needs.
Keep in mind that experience is the best killer of misconception, and first-time hostel jitters are normal. However, the truth is I simply would not have been able to afford to travel as much as I have without hostels being my main squeeze. When it comes to getting bang for your buck, hostels are one of my favorite options!
Have any other worries about staying in a hostel? Let’s get those cleared up for you!