Did you backpack around Europe in your late teens on $10 a day staying in hostels and camp sites? Would you consider staying in hostels now or do you think you are too old?
This was a thought that crossed our minds when we set off in 2013 for our 12-month RTW trip to South America, Europe and Asia. Our travel budget was calculated for stays in hostels wherever possible and would depend on location, time of year and the length of stay.
Arriving into our very first Hostel Ventana Sur in Santiago, Chile, we were nervous. Would we be the only grey-haired oldies? How would other travellers view us? We guessed it was natural to feel this way.
Our taxi dropped us at the gate of the hostel and we nervously rang the bell. The gates opened and very loud music could be heard – classical music. We were met by Jason, a young Englishman who instantly made us welcome. Later we found out that he was the Cupcake King – making the best cupcakes we have ever tasted.
After checking in we met up with travellers of all nationalities and ages seated around a long table under the grape vine covered outside patio area. Out came the beer and the wine and we were welcomed warmly. This was such a positive start for us and one that we always look back on fondly. We did not feel too old or out of place. Lots of tips and tricks and stories were shared that night that you can only get by being with other travellers in this type of environment. Staying in hotels you lose out on this camaraderie.
After such a positive experience, we booked another hostel in the Argentinian town of Mendoza. We arrived very late at Chimbas Hostel, Mendoza and were warmly met by our host, who pointed us to the beer fridge and the honour system which we gratefully enjoyed. Here in the overly large kitchen we cooked our meals with travellers of all ages and nationalities, having another wonderful experience whilst sharing the locally-produced wines Argentina is well known for.
This camaraderie between travellers in hostels continued on throughout our travels. We have met solos, couples and families in Cusco, Peru and in Istanbul, Turkey etc. enjoying the atmosphere of staying in hostels whilst travelling the world.
There are many benefits of hostel stays:
- Good budget accommodation usually in central locations
- We have had some of the best breakfasts which are included in the price
- WiFi is free
- A great source of information on local activities by the owners’ staff and other travellers. Our hostel in Florence, the Archi Rossi, provided free walking tours, microwaveable meals and even free flow ice-cream and water.
- A great way to meet new people especially if you are a solo traveller.
We have put together some tips for you:
- When we stay in a hostel we always book a double room with an ensuite bathroom. You do not have to stay in dormitory-style rooms
- Ensure the WiFi is strong and whether it is available only in common areas or everywhere
- Where possible choose a hostel that includes free breakfast, this can save you $$ on your daily budget
- If you are staying longer than a week check to see if kitchen facilities are available
- We book online to make our reservations. This allows us also to check out travellers’ reviews. When a review states it is a party hostel it is usually the case.
- Ensure it is located in a safe and central area
- Be sure to triangulate reviews – check out TripAdvisor, the accommodation booking engine that you are using and best of all, if you can receive a personal recommendation from a family, friend or fellow traveller, this is a good way of ensuring your expectations are met
Originally published here (with editing)
Where do you stay when you travel? Do you prefer hostels or hotels? Tell us below.