Traveling is one of life’s great joys, but it can come at a steep cost once you factor in airfare or fuel, sights to see, and lodging. If you can be more flexible about your lodging, you may find that hostels are a great way to go while meeting others and saving money at the same time.
A hostel is like a hotel in that you pay to stay in pre-established accommodations, but instead of paying for an entire room to yourself, you pay for a bed. That means you’re likely to share space with others you don’t know, sort of like a dormitory, with the intention of socializing and cost-sharing.
Probably the biggest reason to stay at a hostel versus a hotel is the price. A bed in a hostel typically runs between $10 and $60 U.S. dollars per night, depending on where you go, according to World Trips. While prices vary, you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll pay less than you would for a traditional hotel.
Cost Sharing for Small Groups
Hostels can also be a great way for a small group traveling together to share costs and keep the trip affordable, according to Money Crashers. You can all grab a bed in a shared sleeping space and take advantage of other amenities the facilities have to offer.
Great for Solo Travelers
One of the biggest benefits to hostels outside of cost is that it’s a great way to meet people if you’re traveling solo. Hostels lend themselves toward socializing, often having common dining and leisure areas as well as bedrooms.
Shared Kitchen Space
Many hostels have a kitchen available to visitors, which means you can save money by skipping expensive eating out and prepare affordable meals yourself instead, often with the help of other travelers.
Similarly, you can seek out hostels that offer a free breakfast, according to Money Crashers, or consider offering to split the cost of breakfast ingredients to make with other guests.
Washer and Dryer
Another awesome amenity that you can often find in a hostel is a washer and dryer. This especially comes in handy for those who packed light and have to re-wear the same clothes over and over. While you may have to pay to use the laundry facilities, the convenience likely outweighs the cost.
When you’re traveling, especially abroad, Wi-Fi may be hard to find everywhere you go, and hostels know this. According to Sojournies, most hostels will offer free Wi-Fi as they know that most people like to remain connected.
Some hostels go the extra mile and offer just as many cool extras as a hotel, including bars, pools, and other luxuries. You can be as selective of your hostels as you would a hotel when booking.
Keep in mind that in a hostel you’re sharing space, which includes space to store your belongings. Staying in a hostel can encourage you to downsize your luggage — since you’re just not going to have a lot of space to store it — which in turn can help you save on airline bag check fees.
Again, whether you are traveling solo or with a companion, hostels offer the possibility of making new friends, meeting interesting people, or simply learning new information or getting travel trips from your fellow tourists.
A Note About Safety
While most hostels are safe and secure places — and you should feel pretty safe at the majority of them — World Trips does acknowledge there is always the risk of theft and other safety issues when you are staying with people you don’t know. So, it is recommended that you read reviews at places such as HostelWorld.com or The Hostel Girl to get a sense of any safety issues that have been reported, and choose hostels in major cities, not rural areas.
Additionally, you can look for hostels with fewer beds, to share a space with the least number of people, and even look for ones that organize their accommodations by gender. Keeping valuables either on your person under clothes or in your pillowcase might be a good idea, too, and take them with you when you’re out sightseeing during the day. Most importantly, you don’t have to stay where you don’t feel safe; it’s okay to leave and find other lodging.