Staying Realistic

Even though hostels seem to be improving as a whole and in general, I want everyone who is reading this to have realistic expectations before booking their next trip. They are definitely nothing like hotels and if you are someone who needs their privacy and the luxury feel of a hotel then a hostel most likely isn’t for you.

Not Like A Hotel

hoyA few posts ago I talked about one of the more run down hostels that I have stayed at and it had a pretty bad leak in the roof which ruined a lot of the other guests experience. Many of them were asking the employees of the hostel what they were going to do about the problem and, not to my surprise, they thought they were crazy for even asking.

Now for anyone who is used to staying at hotels, something like this would definitely be grounds for a refund or at least a change to another room. The thing that people have to realize is that hostels are dirt cheap for a reason. There generally aren’t going to be any general contractor professionals like this on hand to take care of or fix any issues.

This is a luxury that hostels unfortunately do not have the means or resources to provide for their guests. As the other guests found out, fixing a damaged roof is not exactly their top priority and if the building is still standing, there will usually not be many things that they will go out of their way to fix.

Don’t Overthink It!

For passionate world travelers like myself, these little problems aren’t high on my priority list either and actually kind of enjoy the vintage and classic feel that they give. As long as there is a roof over my head and some good quality building ventilation I am good to go and you won’t hear any complaints from me.

If there is anything I want anyone to take from all of this, it would be to just let go and don’t overthink your stay too much. Just sit back, meet some amazing people, and absorb as much of the culture as you can.

Hostels Are Stepping Up

Over the years I have been to many hostels. As time goes on, I have noticed that hostels in general have been getting better and better as far as their cleanliness and overall quality goes. There are definitely still some run down ones out there so be a little wary with this post, but as a whole I have seen them greatly improving.

hotelIf saving money isn’t enough to get you to try a hostel out then maybe the ways that they are improving will be. There have been hostels that I have stayed at where there was a line of up to 10 or 15 people waiting to use the shower and by the time that it got to my turn most of the hot water was gone and it was not a very pleasurable experience. This has only happened to me once or twice and all hostels do have shared bathrooms, but some have more than others.

I have also noticed that hostels have been getting cleaner and more comfortable to stay at as well. Back in the day bed bugs were a real issue and they were a nightmare if you fell victim to them. Even though it is still possible, it isn’t something that you have to be too concerned about these days. Take a look here for some more general info on hostels to give you a clearer idea of them.

Make Up With Your Vacation

If any of the cons or downsides I have mentioned so far is enough to keep you away then this post is for you.

You Will Always Save Cash

No matter what hostel you stay at, even if you find the most expensive fancy (alright maybe not quite “fancy”) one that you can find, you will always be saving a ton of cash by not staying at a hotel. Any way around it, you really shouldn’t be spending much time in the actual hostel or hotel anyways so why not use some of that extra cash to make your vacation or traveling that much more enjoyable and memorable?

cashAlthough I genuinely do love staying in any hostel, I am obviously not traveling for the sole purpose of doing so. I am doing it to explore the vast planet that we live on and experience life from an outsiders point of view. I like to take full and complete advantage of all the time that I have wherever I am staying and I really don’t like to give myself any sort of budget while I am doing so. So the money that I save by staying in a hostel is always used directly for my trip and to add a few more experiences on the list.

Plus if you are spending hundreds of dollars on a hotel, you might feel a sort of obligation to spend more time inside which defeats the whole purpose of traveling abroad!

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

I hope that I didn’t talk anyone out of supporting hostels with my last 2 posts but again, I want to keep everyone’s expectations at a realistic level and don’t want to paint a picture that isn’t true. There are definitely a few risks and downsides when you choose to stay in a hostel but I really don’t want them to be enough to scare anyone away.

It’s Good For Anyone!

dormOne of the most mature and self-growth promoting things that anyone can do is to step outside of their comfort zone and force themselves into situations that they wouldn’t normally do. Let’s face it, there are very few out there who would consider sleeping in a room with 10 other people as something they would consider “comfortable,” including myself. But once you get past the initial introduction and “hellos,” any anxiety will usually immediately wash away.

Trying Something New!

I mentioned a few posts earlier that there was really only one occasion where I stayed at a hostel and the conditions were a little less than what even I was used to because of a pretty bad leak that the roof had. Now I could have been like the others who thought this was unacceptable and gross, but instead I just chalked it up as another experience and something new. That is the attitude you have to have when you are staying in places like this.

Most of you are probably used to hotels that are equipped with contractors and maintenance workers like this who are there to keep everything in check but you will not be seeing anything like them walking around fixing any leaks or damage so keep that in mind.

One More

Privacy issues is definitely among the most common reasons people will avoid staying at hostels but there are a few more reasons that aren’t as prevalent but are worth mentioning.

Usually Older Buildings

eurI briefly mentioned a hostel that I stayed at years ago where the roof was leaking pretty bad and kind of ruined the experience for a couple people staying there. You will rarely find issues as major as a leaky roof in the majority of hostels, but most of them do tend to be in older buildings that have seen better days.

This is why the prices are usually so incredibly cheap however and in my opinion, I think the vintage feel that they give is absolutely worth it and makes the stay even more exciting.

Although Rare, Theft Can Happen

I hate that this has to be said, but unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world. We all wish it weren’t the case, but there are people out there who take advantage of tourists in hostels and will stay for one night for no other reason than to try and steal from the other guests.

Personally, I have never seen or heard of any personal experiences from anyone having this happen but it is something to keep in the back of your mind. This can be said for any vacation that you take though and as long as you have a little bit of common sense you will have nothing to worry about 99% of the time.

A Few Downsides

I don’t really like it when authors or people with strong opinions on a certain topic aren’t as fair and balanced as they ought to be and I don’t want to fall in that category so I am going to talk about some of the things that keep people away from staying at hostels for the next couple.

Keep in mind that I am not doing this to discourage anyone, but I want to keep everyone’s expectations realistic and let you know what you are getting into.

Privacy Issues

europeThe biggest issue that I have found people to have with staying at hostels is that there really is a general lack of privacy that most people are used to from standard and more traditional hotels.

The majority of the time you are sharing a room with multiple other people, sometimes upwards of 15 or more, and you are all in the same room and sleep next to each other. You won’t have to share a bed or anything like that but I know a lot of people who could never imagine having to do something like this and would pay any amount of money to be able to have their own room.

This isn’t an issue for me and personally, I look at this as a positive aspect of staying in a hostel because you are forced to talk to and interact with people from all over the world!

Something Close Here

Although you really won’t find hostels here in America, there has been something that is gaining popularity that is somewhat similar to hostels. This something similar are companies like Air B&B and other people offering condos or homes for rent that are connected to others.

So although you usually won’t be staying and sleeping directly with anyone else during your stay, you are in the same area and as long as you don’t plan on staying in your room for the entire time you should have plenty of opportunities to interact with the others and get a relatively similar experience as you would with a hostel.

hstlMuch More Comfortable

The reasons hostels are so cheap is that they are usually older buildings and you don’t get your own personal room. Air B&B and similar options will cost you more money, but the places are almost always kept up very well and are very often times worth the extra cash.

Building Quality

For example, there was one hostel that I stayed in where the roof was leaking pretty bad and was really upsetting a few of the people staying there. Now something like this doesn’t hinder my opinions of hostels because I really don’t let small things like this bother me and I am going to enjoy myself no matter what.

You really won’t find any issues like this from individually owned properties.

The People Are Great

The single greatest thing about staying at hostels is that you are guaranteed to meet some of the most interesting people that you ever will.

They Are Excited!

hostel1Whenever I visit my home country of Ireland I will often stay at a hostel instead of a friends house just so I can have the experience of seeing people visiting my country for the first time. It is so enjoyable for me because anyone who is visiting from another country is immediately fascinated and are in the greatest mood just to be talking me!

They are genuinely excited to learn about what it’s like to grow up somewhere that is foreign to them and you can tell that they are really taking in the experience.

Don’t Be Shy!

If you aren’t generally a “people person” or are shy then staying in hostels would be a great way to get you out of your comfort zone and trying something new! There are very rarely people who are staying in hostels that don’t like interacting with others and are some of the easiest people to talk to.

The earth is such a huge place and the ways of life from people across the world from each other can so different and really help change your perspective on things. For me personally, I have learned that we here in America focus too much on getting that next promotion or buying the next new hot car that we tend to lose focus on the variety of interesting people that are out there!

The Joy of Hostels

It really is a shame that when the majority of people hear the word “hostel” these days they immediately think of being tortured and killed in a dark room because of the unfortunate movie that was released many years ago.

Tarnished Reputation

hostelI don’t know any of the real statistics or anything, but I can’t imagine that the movie didn’t have a negative impact on hostels around the world in regards to their business and how willing people are to actually stay in one.

It saddens me so much that this is probably true because I have had some of the best memories of my life and met some of the most interesting people while staying at hostels.

For Those Who Don’t Know

Many people who live in America and have never traveled abroad might not even know what a hostel actually is. For anyone out there who might fall into that category, a hostel is sort of like a motel. It’s a place where people can stay overnight for very affordable prices and they are aimed towards specific types of travelers and guests such as students, or people traveling from other countries.

The idea that you usually have to share a room with at least a few other people might turn a lot of people away from every trying them and I want to encourage anyone who is hesitant about it to consider giving them a try.