WHY I STILL STAY IN HOSTELS WHEN I TRAVEL
People are always shocked when they find out I that I still stay in hostels.
“Aren’t you too old for that?”
“Why would you still want to do that?”
“Don’t you actually make money? Are you still too broke for an Airbnb?”
“How do you even sleep?”
And what’s even more shocking to people is that while I often stay in a hostel private room, I also still stay in dorms!
(If anyone has followed on Twitter while I’ve been in Colombia, you’ll know my dorm room pains!)
Why do I do this to myself? Why do I still stay in hostels?
The first: I’m cheap. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I started out — and stayed — a budget traveler because I just don’t like to spend money.
Especially on rooms I’ll just be in for a few hours.
I look at prices for hotels and private rooms and think, “Well, a dorm is only $10, so why not?!”
True, I often regret that decision, since I also don’t sleep well, but money is money — and hostels are cheap!
The second is that they provide me with on-the-ground information about what budget travelers and backpackers are doing. (First came the backpackers, then everyone else, I like to say.) Backpackers and hostel staff know where to find things to do on a budget. They have lots of hacks and are a good source of information and resources I might not know about. I can learn about new apps, get hot tips, and discover places or events to check out.
They know the best markets, cheap places to eat, and off-beat destinations.
Hostels are where I get the information I can use to unlock the mystery of how to see a destination on a budget.
Hostels are my source of travel trends.
In fact, I think hostels, their staff, and the backpacker crowd are an underutilized resource – regardless of your age or travel style. You don’t get travelers swapping tips at a hotel bar the way you do a hostel bar. So, if you’re looking for information — a hot new attraction, a cool local tour, new restaurants, a great dive bar, tips on getting around cheaper — go to a hostel bar. Most hostels have bars open to the public until a certain hour. Meet some backpackers. Make some friends. Learn something new!
Additionally, even if you aren’t staying at a hostel, you can go in and ask the staff questions. They field more inquiries about “unique, weird, and local” things to do than your Airbnb host or a hotel concierge.
And, finally, and most important, reason: I like the social vibe.
I think hotels are boring, and I don’t want to stay in an Airbnb by myself. Hostels are full of friendly travelers. I can swap tips, have a few conversations, get some travel buddies, and generally socialize! (Yes, you can do that with locals too, but you know what I mean.)
Hostels are just fun. I miss them when I’m not staying at them.
There’s usually a bar, events going on, activities, people hanging out, a pool table – there are lots of ways to connect with other travelers in a hostel.
The common areas are meant for people to interact. Even if I’m not looking for a rager, it’s still nice to head down, grab a beer, and chat with people for a bit.
How could I ever leave that? It’s way better than watching Netflix!
While I may not be the most “budget” traveler these days as I don’t often cook when I travel (if I’m not in an expensive country like Switzerland), I destroy my $50-per-day budget on nice food when I travel, and I would rather take the quickest — not the cheapest — transportation, I still am cheap as hell (see reason number #1 above), and I like writing about budget travel.