How to Choose The Best Hostel to Stay at While Backpacking

Hostels are an inevitable part of backpacking and it is important for you to make the best decision for your trip. Depending on the city you are visiting, there will be hundreds of hostels available and a lot of different factors go in to what will make the best choice for your particular trip and personality. From atmosphere to price, there is plenty to think about before you make your booking.

The Price

This is an obvious one, but the price makes a big difference when traveling. Most backpackers are trying to stick to a budget so it is important that you don’t exceed what you can afford. On the flip side, don’t sacrifice comfort and security for a dirt cheap room rate if you can afford something a little better. Prices can easily be compared online but just make sure to check for any hidden fees. Prices also vary by room. A room with more beds will usually be cheaper than a private room, unless you are sharing with another person. In that case, sometimes it will cost just as much to stay in a private room as it will to stay in a dorm.

The Breakfast

Many hostels have restaurants and cafes where you can easily grab breakfast in the mornings. What is even better are hostels that provide a free breakfast for its guests. These hostels actually fall into the majority of ones you will find around Europe and Asia and are perfect for those trying to stick to a budget. One meal will be out of the way and depending on what they are offering, you can snatch a couple apples or muffins to take with you as free snacks for the rest of your travels that day.

The Quality

Quality is important when you are looking for a temporary home away from home. Sure, you can sacrifice quality for a cheaper room rate, but sometimes it really isn’t worth it. There are plenty of run-down hostels out there that are still earning an income by giving cheap rates for moldy rooms, broken down furniture and improperly working plumbing. Taking a risk on your health or security isn’t really worth it just to save a couple of dollars. Make sure you can be comfortable and feel safe, you are a long way from home after all.

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The Security

Security should be a top priority when looking into which hostel to choose. Many places offer safe deposit boxes behind the front desk where you can store your passport and other valuables if you don’t feel comfortable leaving them behind. Inside most of the rooms are lockers where you can keep your things. Many places have lockers that already come equipped with a lock while others have locks that you can rent for a fee.

The Atmosphere

This will all depend on the type of trip you are taking, and your personality. Some hostels are more laid back, have a bohemian vibe and plenty of places to relax and read a book. Others, are places that cater more to the partiers of the bunch. Many hostels will have a large bar and music that plays loudly well into the night. If you plan on getting up early to sightsee everyday and want to go to bed early to get a decent rest, the party hostels may not be your best bet. Make sure you look in to it before you are woken up by a bunch of drunk hostel mates collapsing into their beds at 3:00 AM every morning.

The Location

It is so important to choose a hostel with the proper location. You don’t want to end up miles out of the city when you wanted to be within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. Make sure to check the address on a map so that you can be sure of the exact location of the hostel. Take into consideration the noise level of the location if you are trying to get in lots of sleep for sightseeing and whether or not the neighborhood seems safe enough. The location can also affect your budget if it is so far away that it forces you to take public transportation often.

The Facilities

Most hostels will list what they have to offer on their website. Check to make sure that they have laundry facilities, towel and locker rentals and even a kitchen. Hostels with a kitchen are really helpful to backpackers as you can save money by grocery shopping and cooking using their utensils. Hostels will also offer specialty facilities such as a bar, rooftop access, swimming pools, game rooms, activity nights and lounges.

The WIFI

These days, WIFI is extremely important to the modern traveler. You will need it to look up future sightseeing destinations, directions, admission prices and opening times. You will use it to stay connected with your family back home and to keep track of your banking and paying any monthly loans that you are still responsible for while on the road. Make sure that the hostel has a WIFI connection and also make sure to check the reviews to see if people thought it was good or not. Be careful to check the availability of the WIFI as some hostels have it in their common rooms but not in the bedrooms.

The Tours

If you are planning on taking some tours of the cities or the famous landmarks, you should choose a hostel that provides them. It will be much more convenient than going out and trying to book them on your own. Most of the time, they will add the tour price right on to your bill and the guides will come pick you up and drop you off right in front of the hostel.

The Ability to Trade Work

If you are backpacking for an extensive period of time and are really on a budget, choosing a hostel where you can trade work for room and board is ideal. Most hostels allow this sort of trade and you will need to do jobs such as clean and work the front desk in exchange for a free place to sleep and free food from the onsite café or restaurant.

Choosing the best place to stay may be a bit of task, but as long as you have these guidelines then that shouldn’t be a problem. Choose wisely and make sure to accommodate your needs and budget.

Aaron Bradford
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Aaron Bradford

Aaron Bradford is the leader, mentor and chief geek of HappyTimeblog and BeforeYouBackpack. He put together the crack team of writers known by codename “The Firm“. He's a permanent traveller and a lifestyle hacker.
Aaron Bradford
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