How to Hostel Hop

"You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. 
That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place."


As an international travel virgin, one might ask oneself where am I going to stay? Those hotel bills add up extremely fast, and can take a huge chunk out of your travel budget. You might have heard someone mention the word 'hostel', but the first thing that comes to mind is that old horror flick where the backpacker are slaughtered by serial killers, not a cosy place to use as your base camp. I am here to dispel your fears, and let you know what hosteling is really about. For those whose passports list USA, Canada, or Austrailia, your exposure to hosteling is probably little to none, as the industry didn't catch on too well in these parts of the world. However in places like South America, Euroupe, and Asia the hostel is the highly used recourse by budget backpackers. Basically it's like a college dorm for travelers, without the overbearing RA and an expectation of some level of responsibility.

  The way this works is you go online (hostelworld.com) and search for the date and area you shall be visiting. From there you will have a list of hostels that have vacancies for your dates, and you can see guest reviews on cleanliness, location, safety, ect. These reviews are your lifeline and will help you determine what's best for you! Make sure to read carefully because there is a huge difference between a hostel that hosts parties every night and one that has quiet hours after 10pm! Some hostels also have an age limit, usually around 30-35yr, so check first! Now what are the sleeping conditions you might ask? Dorm style! You will have a choice between different dorm types that vary on how many beds, and wether it is co-ed or girls only. Private rooms can also be booked, but expect 2-3X the price. Next you make an online reservation, pay a deposit and download your directions. Easy-Peasy!

  So now you might ask why you would give up a private hotel room for a dorm room? Well first off you will be saving buckets of money per night! Hostel prices differ based on location, with Europe being a bit more expensive ($10-25) and South America and Asia being dirt cheap ($5-15)! Compare that with hotels that are almost always over $50 a night! Also be careful of trips during the national holidays (New Years) and special events (World Cup), because both hotel and hostel prices skyrocket in major cities! The second reson to choose a hostel is for the wealth of travel info you can get from the staff! Backpacker are constantly coming through, so the staff have the best maps and info for what to do in the city and how to get there! Last, and biggest reason is for the companionship! In a hotel, the only people you are likely to converse with are the wait staff and the doorman. In a hostel, you are constantly surrounded with fellow travelers from the most diverse backgrounds, who have the best stories! Think of this as a giant info exchange group, as these people have been to places you might be thinking of going, or you didn't even have on your list until now! It's also a great way for solo travelers to make dinner buddies or find people to go out and explore the city with! Here's my secret technique for i steering yourself into these groups: Eavesdropping! Usually you will see hear some other people in the hostel talking about going to get food, or go see an attraction that you wanted to, or just are talking about a topic you enjoy. Go up to these people and just instead yourself into the conversation, or as their walking out the door run up and ask "I heard you guys are going out for food, mind if I tag along?" Everybody else in the hostel is in the same boat, so don't be shy! It's a fast way to make friends, and new connections around the globe! 

  Here are a few things you should make sure to bring with you for hostels:
-Towel (the quick dry portable kind). Hostel also almost always rent towels for a buck or two. 
-Padlock, because hostels usually have personal lockers you can use for valuables (ie:passport, PC)
-Flip Flips for the showers. 
-Earplugs or IPod, because there is a good chance there is going to be someone snoring 
-Eyemask, because inevitably someone is going to come in drunk at 3am and turn on the lights. You will hate them a lot less with this. 

 Here are a few rules that all travelers should keep in mind at hostels. 
-Don't be an ass. It seems a given but you would be surprised. 
-Don't make a ruckus after 10pm
-The dorm is for sleeping, not partying 
-If you snore obnoxiously, consider a private room. Otherwise you may have others spending the night plotting your murder. 
-Dont leave gross stuff in the shower. 
-Do not treat the staff like your servants. 
-Talking, even quietly, while others are sleeping, not cool. 
-No drugs. Seriously, not okay. 
*These don't always happen, but when they do just remind others that this isn't a party palace. Or just yell at them to shut up. That works too. 


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