Any savvy traveler will tell you that hostels are a great way to meet new friends and save some money. There are a few things to watch out for when picking one. Here are ten tips for choosing a hostel:
10 Tips for Choosing a Hostel
1. Cheaper is not always better
Everyone wants a bargain, but sometimes saving a little bit of money to sacrifice a LOT of quality is not a wise choice. You may find yourself in horrible conditions like no air conditioning/heat, bedbugs, uncleaned bathrooms, and more. Always make sure to check the reviews!
2. Consider the breakfast offered
Some hostels offer no breakfast. Some offer off-brand toast and coffee that barely qualifies as food. Others have a continental breakfast, coffee, tea – the works. While you may opt to dine out first thing in the morning, having the option to grab breakfast without leaving your hostel is always nice, especially if you’ve had a late night. Before booking, make sure to inquire about what sort of breakfast – if any – is offered and also when it’s offered. Some hostels only cater to the most punctual early birds and stop serving breakfast by 8:00 AM. Unless you genuinely enjoy getting up early, consider a hostel that serves breakfast until 9 AM or 10 AM.
3. Proximity to public transit
If a hostel is close to a subway, bus stop, or train station, it’ll be easier to explore the local area or get to the airport if you haven’t yet reached your final destination.
4. 24-hour check-in + late checkout
You may tell yourself you’ll get up with the alarm and keep some semblance of a schedule on vacation, but let’s be honest: vacation is about taking a break from all that. And sometimes itineraries just don’t align with normal hours. For example: let’s say you arrive at 2:00 AM because your flight got in late. A late checkout will afford you more time to recover the sleep you lost. (And don’t forget how much of a toll jetlag takes!) Using that same example, 24-hour check-in is ALWAYS a good thing. Firstly, it means that someone will be at the desk any time of day or night to help with problems. Secondly, you’ll never have to worry about when you want to arrive. Maybe you want to have a lunch before you check-in. 24-hour check-in gives you that flexibility and is one of the most crucial things to consider when choosing a hostel.
5. WiFi is a must
Having free WiFi to watch Netflix at night, connect to a business meeting, or send an email to your travel agent takes stress off your plate. You won’t have to scour the city looking for a coffee shop! And if you’re traveling abroad, most places aren’t open 24-hours or even past 9:00 PM. If you’re in desperate need of internet, you’ll be royally out of luck.
6. Look at the photos, not just the reviews
Anyone can dash off a positive review, but the pics don’t lie! Sites like Travel Advisor are full of user uploaded photos that showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly of hostels. If the reviews seem positive but the photos give you pause, trust your gut and keep looking!
7. Make sure your room has lockers
This is especially important if you’re sharing a bunk with others. Most hostels will offer some form of cubby to store your luggage, but make sure you have one with a lock and key because you never know. It’s advisable to bring your own combination lock in case the hostel doesn’t have their own. And even if you opt for a private room, it’s best to lock any valuables, like cameras, away if you’re not using them. We’d all like to trust the cleaning staff, but things happen and you don’t want your vacation to be ruined.
8. Hostel atmosphere
Many people shy away from hostels because they assume they’re full of loud, rambunctious teen backpackers. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, some hostels cater to more mature travelers who don’t want a loud atmosphere and simply want an affordable – and quiet – place for the night. On the other hand, if you’re looking to let your extrovert flag fly, there are hostels perfect for you. Some even have age restrictions so that only a younger crowd is there. If in doubt, you can always have your Jaya agent send an inquiry to make sure you won’t be miserable during your stay.
Some hostels offer free shuttle service to and from downtown areas or other popular landmarks. There may even be a designated pick-up point for tour operators. What’s more convenient than simply stepping outside and being picked up for a day of adventure?
10. Multilingual staff
It’s always advisable to learn some basic phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. However, the check-in and check-out process can be complicated if you don’t speak the language. Always check to see which language(s) the hostel staff speak. It will save a lot of stress in the long run.
Ready for a backpacking adventure? Let Jaya find you affordable, comfortable hostels to whichever destination you choose! Get started with a free quote here: