Hostel Life is something that everyone should try since it teaches you how to manage money, how to deal with jerks, how to deal with difficult circumstances, and so on. A hostel is a low-cost accommodation shared by travelers. When a tourist plans a night’s stay at a hostel, he or she usually books a bed, not a room.
I have to tell you, as a world traveler for many years…Whether you are traveling alone, as a couple, in a group, or any combination, you must stay in a hostel at least once. Hostel life is unquestionably one of the best ways to visit the world on a budget. There isn’t even a competition, and here’s why.
Hostels allow you to have the two most vital things a traveler could want: food and a place to sleep.
You may save a lot of money by staying at a hostel.
Hostels also enable you to meet other amazing, like-minded travelers.
These two major reasons (along with a slew of minor ones) make staying in a hostel a must-do for any type of traveler. And this hostel guide will show you just why.
In this epic guide to the hostel life – the definitive 102 on all things backpacker accommodation – I’ll explain why staying and living in hostels is a must-do for all sorts of travelers. By the conclusion of this post, you’ll understand what a hostel is, why they’re so amazing, and how to go on your hostel trip across the world!
Finally, I’ll share some of my most critical tricks and advice for enjoying hostel life in 2022!
Table of Contents
What is a Hostel?
Or, to put it another way, what does hostel mean?
A hostel is a kind of company that offers cheap accommodation. As easy as that. Hostels are often able to provide reduced costs due to one factor – dormitories!
Dorms are precise as they sound. Consider college life, but with larger bags. Hostels may considerably cut their rates by cramming 16 people into a room; they’re an important weapon in the armory of tactics for budget travelers to save money. As simple as that!
But here’s the thing: every hostel is unique. The size, quality, and general feel of hostels vary greatly. No two hostels are the same, and each one caters to a certain group of travelers.
This implies that the ‘hostel life’ differs drastically depending on the kind of hostel you stay at!
Different Types of Hostels
This is a vast subject on which I could spend an entire post. Different sorts of hostels all have their distinct moods and purposes that appeal to different types of travelers. But as this is a hostel guide, allow me to include a couple of the major ones.
I’ve also included a few selections of my favorite hostels from across the world. They’re only a taste of the massive assortment you’ll discover in our article about the best hostels in the world!
1. Party Hostels:
So, of course, I had to add ‘party hostels.’ These bad guys are designed to attract and appeal to a party demographic. Partygoers float in, become exceedingly drunk, and then float out (when their tepid head allows). Expect these hostels to be large, boisterous, and jam-packed with alcohol-related events. It’s essentially a large party in another nation — but with a lot of travelers!
Most Off-the-Hook Party Hostels in Europe: Flying Pig Chain, Amsterdam
While Europe is plenty with fantastic party hostels, the Flying Pig chain in Amsterdam is always at the top of our rankings. There’s an Uptown, a Downtown, and a By-the-Beach option, all of which are very Amsterdam!
2. Chiller Hostels
That isn’t the official name, but it suits me. In contrast to party hostels, chiller hostels are considerably more laid-back and cater to travelers looking for a good homely ambiance as well as a comfortable and peaceful place to sleep.
These are more ‘living hostels’ aimed towards long-term travelers. They’re generally tastefully furnished, with extremely cozy sensations, and will request that everyone turn off the lights and stay quiet after a certain hour. They also, coincidentally, attract more smokers than party hostels.
We like our hostels’ chill.
A Bucket List Hostel in Peru: Wolf Totem Guesthouse
Wolf Totem Guesthouse is a lovely hostel in Peru for long-term travelers. I discovered this treasure when researching hostels in South America, and it’s become somewhat of a fantasy stay if I ever return to Peru. It’s a haven designed for aspiring digital nomads and long-term travelers who are tired of jumping between hostels and places.
It’s a place to calm down for whenever long seems appropriate, with stunningly contemporary BoHo stylings, luxurious embellishments (the sauna is a firm favorite), and a gorgeous location in the Peruvian countryside.
3. Nature-y Hostels
There are also several different types of hostels. Hostels come in many shapes and sizes, from affordable to boutique!
Some hostels are open to everyone, while others are exclusive to women. Some are geared at digital nomads and professional types, while others are geared toward partygoers and surfers.
Some hostels are part of large chains, while others are privately operated.
Others hostels offer bars, some have pools, some have private rooms, hammocks, free walking tours, and kitchens – it all depends on the facility!
I’ve stayed in places that transcend classification and have a magical sticky aspect about them.
Often, it is the people who create the pad.
This is why hostels (and hostel living in general) are so great! There are hundreds of hostels for you and your way of travel, no matter what sort of hostel feel you’re searching for.
There’s One More Type of Hostel
I’ve been traveling for quite some time. After around many years give or take you stop counting.
And somewhere along the way, possibly on a cold, lonely night while sleeping beneath a bridge, I had a spark. A fantasy. A desire… a want to construct my hostel. Tribal Bali arrives!
It’s a goal I’m working on right now while enjoying my business lifestyle in idyllic Bali. We’re now officially open, and it’s going to knock your socks off! It’s a haven for travelers worldwide, and you’re all welcome to stay.
I want it to be everything I wished for all those years of doggin’ it dirtbag-style. A paradise for digital nomads where they can get some work done, but also a haven for the young and stupid where the gloves can come off as the sun goes down!
It’s a haven of welcome, love, and pillows as soft as marshmallows. A meeting point for seasoned vagabonds and brand-new travelers alike. And, most importantly, a location where I can finally see all of your gorgeous faces!
While working in the TREMENDOUSLY FUCKING HUGE co-working area and playing a game of pool on Tribal’s bright pink billiards table, mingle, exchange ideas, and discover your tribe. There’s also a massive pool, so there’s always time for a refreshing plunge to break up the day’s hustling, brainstorming, work, and games…
With enormous food, famous coffee, and fantastic drinks (Tribal Tonics are the finest signature cocktails you’ve ever tasted in a hostel — I promise it!) This is the place to be while visiting Bali, with a dedicated co-working space.
I hope to see you there. I’m fucking down for a drink, a joint, or just a talk.
Are Hostels Safe?
I’m assuming you’ve heard that hostels are risky. You may have heard that hostels are where machete-wielding maniacs slaughter young travelers or sell them into slavery by East European mafia syndicates.
Sorry to burst your bubble, Liam Neeson… but the reality of dorm life is significantly less exciting.
The reality is that hostels are incredibly secure places to stay.
Hostels are without a doubt one of the safest ways to travel. Most hostels include lockers where you may store your belongings, and many have late-night security as well.
Hostels are safer because of their communal nature: they tend to have all positive feelings. It’s quite simple to make new acquaintances and travel companions while living in hostels, and because of their social character, you’re constantly surrounded by other people. The more people there are, the more individuals will be aware of their surroundings, and the less probable unpleasant things will happen.
Having been in hundreds of hostels and met hundreds of other travelers who have stayed in hundreds more, I can safely state that hostels are highly safe. The hottest pickle I’ve ever seen occurred when my 18-year-old sister’s iPod was taken at a hostel in Barcelona. But it was her fault; for God’s sake, she had left it on her dorm-bed pillow all day.
Finally, hostels are one of the safest methods of travel. You will not only enjoy the time of your life if you use your wits and keep your possessions secure, but you will also be doing it in a very safe setting. That’s it.
Staying Safe in Hostels All the Same
So, I just told you that sleeping in hostels is very secure and that nothing ever goes wrong (except for my dumbhead sister’s), but you’re still a traveler. Things continue to go wrong, and sometimes, they also hit the fan.
So, what is the best course of action you can take? Prepare for the worst by learning how to travel safely! Obtain insurance for your a$$.
Have a great time on your hiking trip, but please acquire insurance. Take it from someone who has spent tens of thousands of dollars on an insurance claim: you need it.
Traveling without insurance is dangerous, and it’s also a bad idea for your mother. Don’t put her off: get insured.
It’s okay to be lost now and again, but it’s also important not to get too lost. Others want you to return home safely.
For all of his wildest adventures, Nonstop Asia has one travel insurance provider he can rely on Safety Wings
To receive a quotation for your insurance, click the button below, or read our in-depth assessment of Safety Wings’ coverage. Then the antics may begin.
Hostel Life FAQs
Now that you’ve gotten the essence of the hostel experience, I’m sure you’ve had a few more questions. Fortunately, there is a comprehensive guide to hostel living with all the information you’ll need.
That means I’ll answer all of your burning questions! So cool your beans, settle down with what your mother gave you, and pay attention!
Who can stay in hostels?
Hostels are open to everyone! Or, at the very least, 95% of the time. Some hostels (usually, many of Europe’s prominent hostels) do have age limitations (generally, 40 and under), however, anybody may stay in a hostel.
However, just because anybody may stay in a hostel does not imply that hostels are crowded with individuals of all ages.
Having visited hostels all around the world, I’d guess that 90% of the folks I’ve met in hostels are under the age of 35. This is due to the popularity of hostels among Millenials and Generation Y, therefore the crowds are often made up of young travelers traveling alone or with companions.
This is one of the most exciting aspects of living in hostels! This isn’t some sterile hotel experience, half-filled with families and screaming kids and the other half with seniors lounging by the pool, chatting about cribbage and staring at your tattoos.
Hostel guests are often young, open-minded world travelers, which is ideal since you are likely to be a young, open-minded global traveler as well! The hostel experience enables you to quickly meet like-minded, amazing individuals, allowing you to then relax, frolic, and manufacture friendship bracelets for those life-long connections that will undoubtedly remain after you’ve both been booted from the dorm room.
Just remember to be a nice guest and to ALWAYS follow hostel etiquette.
How much are hostels?
This is a challenging statistic to compute since the cost of everything fluctuates depending on where you go. Some nations are inexpensive to visit, while others are not.
A reasonable rule of thumb is that a night in a nice hostel dorm room will cost you half the price of a night in a decent hotel room.
Some hostels are less costly than others, but it is usually true that staying in hostels will allow you to decrease your lodging expenditures by half.
The cheap cost is by far the most appealing aspect of hostel life! Accommodation is without a doubt one of the most significant financial burdens while traveling, therefore sharing a dorm room with other travelers is one of the finest methods to save a significant amount of money.
And, believe it or not, hostels may be inexpensive! In Siem Reap, Chiang Mai, El Nido, and Mexico City, I spent less than $8 for a dorm bed.
This is not to say that you should always choose the lowest choice. Spending an additional $2-$3 may mean a HUGE improvement in amenities, but we’ll discuss that in more detail later in our advice for staying in hostels.
Can I stay in hostels alone?
Yeah, yes, yes!
I feel that if you’re traveling alone, you should stay in hostels as often as possible.
Hostels, by definition, are the most convenient method to meet other amazing travelers!
It’s hardly even a contest. Hostels should be your first, second, third, and fourth option if you want to meet other people while traveling, even in the nicest destinations to travel alone.
This is due to the way hostels are built.
- First – you’ll have your dorm room. There will be anything from 3 to 30 other travelers in your dorm room. It’s as simple as starting up a conversation with your dorm neighbor.
- Second – there will be a shared space. Every excellent hostel has some kind of lounge space. Perhaps it’s a sophisticated inside lounge-couch space (as seen in European hostels), an outside hammock-grove with picnic tables (as seen in Central America), or even a slick rooftop bar (a staple of Southeast Asia’s backpacking culture). Whatever the common ground is, this is the best spot on the planet to meet other travelers.
- Third – the hostel will very certainly have activities. Whether it’s a noisy bar crawl or a free walking history tour, these are fantastic ways to meet other travelers and interact.
To summarize, traveling to a hostel as a lone traveler is not only fantastic… it’s virtually required. Even though I’m no longer traveling on a shoestring budget, I still like to stay in hostels when I travel alone. The majority of my trip pals I’ve met in hostels, and I constantly like to place myself in situations where I may meet additional travel mates.
Does staying in a hostel dorm suck?
Here’s the deal: sleeping in a hostel dorm room may be a nightmare at times. Is it done frequently? No way. Hostel dorm rooms are usually fantastic!
But I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, and I’d be doing myself a disservice if I wasn’t completely honest – hostels, like everything else in life, aren’t ideal.
But you must realize that that is all part of the process! If you live in a dorm, you are doing it too:
- Save money.
- To meet other amazing travelers.
Here’s what you’re probably afraid about…
The Common Fears of Hostel Life:
Getting slaughtered — Apologies to Eli Roth fans. While the film ‘Hostel’ was wildly crazy… it’s just not real.
Theft — Let’s face it, theft can happen everywhere (just ask my oblivious sister – that one’s on you, dude). The odds of stealing at a hostel are minimal if you are clever and observant. The easiest approach to avoid theft at a hostel is to keep your valuables in your bag and your backpack secured with a strong travel padlock.
Bedbugs — I’ve been in over 100 hostels and have only encountered bed bugs ONCE! I’ve noticed more bedbugs in flats than in hotels where I’ve been. You must realize that hostels are not cesspools: they depend on their evaluations just like any other company. What happened when I did find bedbugs in my bed? I informed the front desk, and they relocated me to a new bedbug-free room. I then went swimming, met friends, drank beers, and had the time of my life.
Noise at night — By far the most inconvenient aspect of living in hostels. Noise. If you wake up at 3 a.m. in a 15-person dorm, there’s a high chance you’ll hear a symphony of snores, yawns, music screaming through headphones, and a swarm of intoxicated tourists plowing back from the bar in the adjacent dorm room (or just generally plowing).
But, whatever, buddy! This is all part of the game, and the ‘issue’ has a simple solution: sleek and beautiful travel headphones!
Yes, young padawan, a pair of headphones is one of the basic things you’ll need to bring for a hostel stay. Because, with headphones and earplugs, you’ll be sleeping sweetly while thinking, ‘what noise?’
Can I stay in a private room in a hostel?
This is one of the most exciting aspects of hostel life. You may still enjoy all of the social benefits of living in a hostel while still gaining some solitude.
I’ve stayed in hostel private rooms many times, but generally when I’m traveling with a partner or when I’m sick as crap. Private rooms are ideal for either occasion, or for when you just need to go away, enjoy some alone time, and watch Netflix.
What’s more, to cap it all off? Private rooms at hostels are normally the same price as a low-cost hotel – if not, they’re usually a touch less expensive – so you can still save money and have some social time while still enjoying some much-needed solitude.
Can I eat in hostels?
Another fantastic feature of hostel living is that the majority of them offer kitchens!
Hostel kitchens are a lifesaver for budget travelers, particularly in pricey backpacking destinations such as Western Europe, East Asia, North America, and Australasia. A hostel kitchen allows you to stock up on local products and bulk-cook enough meals for a week. Feeding oneself this manner will save you a massive amount of money that you would not have been able to save otherwise.
Having said that, be sure to eat in the authorized locations (kitchen or communal spaces) and not in places where you clearly should not be (your dorm bed at 3 A.M.). It’s all about basic civility at a hostel!
Isn't hostel life all about drinking and hooking up?
I’m going, to be honest here: some hostels are exactly like that. They are often known as party hostels (as previously said), and if you are looking for some debauchery, look no further. Booze, drugs, and sex in the hostel (and frequently the dorm) are the norm in these hedonistic havens.
However, the advantage of party hostels is that they are plainly labeled as such. This means you can get bent with a lot of other wonderful travelers whenever you want!
I suggest staying at a party hostel for a few nights — it’s a lot of fun. Liquid confidence goes a long way, and I’ve met some of my finest travel companions during party-hosted pub crawls.
And if you don’t want to party too hard, simply make sure it’s not a party hostel! If you are particular about your surroundings, browse the hostel’s web evaluations to get a sense of the general ambiance. The top hostel booking sites can point you on the right path.
Can you live in a hostel?
That is determined by the hostel. Some hostels set a time limit on how long you may stay.
Some places impose a time limit on how long you may remain. Everything differs from hostel to hostel.
Volunteering at a hostel in exchange for a free bed is a typical practice among travelers. This is common in hostels all around the globe and is a terrific way to save money. These contracts may often lead to long-term paying work and make for wonderful travel jobs.
However, if you are living there for an extended period, it may make more economical sense to stay in an apartment.
Tips and Tricks for Hostel Stays
As every seasoned hostel traveler knows, there are a few things to look out for when reserving a fantastic hostel…
How to Book a Hostel (Excellently): Free Stuff!
Free stuff is awesome, and if you plan ahead of time with your hostel reservations, you can get some freebies that will mount up throughout your trip. Not all hostels provide freebies, but if you keep an eye out for a couple of them, your bank account will be grateful.
- Breakfast — I’d guess approximately 60% of hostels provide free breakfast, and depending on where you’re going, this may be the most significant perk on the list. In pricey nations, free breakfast gets you the biggest bang for your money, saving you $10 or more every day!
- Pro Tip — Read the reviews on Hostelworld – one of the finest hostel booking sites – to learn what breakfast is served at the hostel. Sometimes “free breakfast” signifies a gourmet meal, while other times it involves a slice of toast.
- Beverages — While free coffee and tea aren’t game-changers, they are always appreciated. I’d guess that roughly 75% of hostels give complimentary hot drinks.
- Towels — Getting free towels is usually a great bonus. It is possible to tour the globe without bringing a towel and solely using hostel towels… but I would not encourage it. And if you bring your towel (preferably a quick-dry microfiber travel towel), you may use the complimentary hostel towel without having to bother about drying it.
- Lockers — Thank goodness, free lockers are becoming increasingly common. While hostels are typically secure, having the peace of mind that a locker gives is wonderful.
Pro tip: While I’d guess that 75 percent or more of hostels give free lockers, very few supply a free LOCK. Purchase a padlock as a courtesy to yourself.
Tips for Staying in a Hostel and Booking a Hostel
Aside from the freebies, here are some more critical considerations when renting a hostel.
- Price — For some travelers, the hostel’s price is the ONLY consideration. If this is the case, you may simply select hostels at the lowest price using any booking site (I recommend Hostelworld). A word of caution, however: you typically get what you pay for, so keep an eye out for the hostel’s evaluations.
- Reviews — It is critical to read the hostel reviews, particularly for the cheaper hostels. I will never stay at a hostel with a low rating. I’ve done it before and always ended up regretting it. Spend the additional money to upgrade to a better hostel, or look for a different inexpensive hostel with good reviews.
- Facilities — What do you think about the facilities? Pools, bars, gyms, instruments, mountain vistas, and joints: whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in a hostel.
- Location — Often, cheaper hostels are located away (hence the cheaper price). While the lower hostel pricing is appealing, the savings may be offset by transport expenditures to and from town. Do yourself a favor and consider what you want to do; from there, you can choose where you want to be.
- Property type — Very crucial! Many hostel booking services do not just cater to hostels. This implies that hotels, bed & breakfasts, and other forms of lodging may promote their facility. Check to see whether the facility is a hostel, which is generally indicated by the existence of a dorm.
- Bedside Outlet — These things are so badass. Charging all of your equipment while sleeping in the luxury of your dorm bed is a sure win!
Final Thoughts on Hostel Life
So there you have it. This is all you need to know about hostels and staying in them. With the assistance of this guide, you’ll know all you need to know to book a fantastic hostel, meet wonderful friends, and travel across the world while saving money!
Hostels are fantastic, but it’s critical to select the appropriate one for you. If you choose the wrong hostel, there’s a significant possibility you’ll find yourself with the wrong people doing the wrong thing and trapped in a backpacker trap.
But where should you stay? The appropriate hostel, on the other hand, is a home. And everyone, especially errant travelers, needs a place to stay.