Travelling Around: One Hostel at a Time

Stay at a nice hostel like this one

Stay at a nice hostel like this one

I was introduced to a friend of a friend the other night and after comparing some study abroad and student travel experiences we reached a stalemate regarding hostels.  I’ve had great hostel experiences – well, as great in hostel terms anyway – while she had some horror stories.  None was dangerous, only uncomfortable or unexpected.  Separately, but also fairly recently, my cousin extolled the virtues of Couchsurfing as an alternative to hostels.  Through, she bummed around France during a few weekends of her study abroad semester.  I wasn’t so sure.  So, I decided to spend a little time putting together some information about hostels on the Gulliver Blog.

A couple things to keep in mind:

  • Most of the time, hostels charge by bed, not by room.  If you want the cheapest bed possible, you’ll often be rooming with upwards of 6 other travelers, men and women.  Privacy and security for your goods isn’t guaranteed.  If you pony up for the more expensive beds, you might get it down to 2 or 4 to a room.
  • You won’t have your own bathroom.  Travelers often share communal bathrooms.  It might be helpful to check out the bathroom before you commit to staying at any hostel.
  • Bring a lock.  All hostels should have lockers for your valuables, but you’ll need your own lock to keep them secure.
  • Book ahead of time.  If a hostel doesn’t have vacancies, you may be turned away.  You can book months in advance, often times online, so don’t hesitate to do so.
  • If you aren’t getting a good vibe from your hostel, leave and go to another one.  Yes, you’ll be taking your chances without a reservation, but it’s much better than staying somewhere you feel uncomfortable.  To that end, write down the addresses of several hostels in your destination so you have some choices.
  • Check your hostel’s guidelines.  Many hostels have curfews of midnight.  If you are out later than that, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be let back in!
  • Bottom Bunks are better.  You can tuck clothing up to create curtains.  Top bunks get hot in the summer.
  • Bring a sleeping back liner in lieu of sheets.  They’re compact, warm, and bed bug free!

Two good websites for finding hostels and reserving beds are and Hostelling International.  With Hostelling International, a $28 yearly membership allows you to stay surcharge-free in hostels around the globe.  It also gets you discounts to hostels and other activities.

Remember, staying at a hostel isn’t always the quietest experience, nor do you have the privacy of a hotel room, but it’s inexpensive and potentially a ton of fun.  For more info about student travel, check out Gulliver’s Prepare to Go section.  Get out there and go abroad.

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Gulliver helps students Study Abroad. Our blog covers: current issues in Study Abroad; featured posts by Study Abroad students; and Gulliver updates, news, and behind-the-scenes peaks. Thanks for reading!

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