Outside the backpacking nation, the word hostel carries many different misunderstood meanings. I get asked a variety of questions by my friends regarding hostels.
“Are the hostels part of some school or college?”
“What is the curfew time before which you have to return to the hostel?”
“Do we have to eat the meals the hostel provides or we can eat outside?”
To get the answers and learn more about the hostels read along.
Hostels are the heartbeat of backpacking travel. But, it is not solely restricted to backpackers. Anyone can enjoy the joys of hostels.
Q. What is a hostel?
A. Hostel provides economical accommodation to travelers in the form of shared rooms. A hostel room has bunk beds. And, you reserve a bed rather than the entire room. Other beds are occupied by other travelers. So, imagine you are dividing the cost of the room among the number of people staying. That is why hostels are affordable.
Q. Why would I want to share a room with strangers?
A. If you think traveling is more than just checking off the tourist attractions then you would be open to the idea of meeting other travelers, getting travel tips, exchanging stories, and sharing experiences. In our day and age it is becoming harder to meet new people. Hostels provide the perfect platform to socialize with new people.
Besides, a hostel bed costs you 1/8th of a hotel room.
Q. Ok I am on board. Tell me more about hostels.
A. I will give you a lowdown on hostels
1. Rooms: The hostel rooms are actually called dorms. So I will refer to them as dorms. There are different types of dorms:
(i) 4-bed, 6-bed, x-bed: The dorms have different amount of beds. The rule of thumb is that the more the beds the cheaper the bed. The beds are usually bunk beds. So, a 6-bed dorm consists of 3 bunk-beds
(ii) Personal & Shared Bathroom: Some dorms have an in-built bathroom while in others you use a common bathroom. Again, the price follows the natural trend. More luxury = More money
(iii) Boys, Girls, Co-ed dorms: Most hostels almost always have girls-only dorm. Some even have boys-only dorm. A co-ed dorm means a mixed crowd in the dorm
2. Common Area: Usually, hostels have a common area where the travelers sit and sip beer while socializing with other travelers. Many a days can be spent just sitting at the common area in the charm of the conversations. That is why there is no such thing as a boring day in a hostel
3. Kitchen: Majority of the hostels come with a kitchen. The kitchen has the essentials – stove, refrigerator, pots, pans and microwave (sometimes). The people staying at the hostel can utilize the kitchen facility for cooking meals. The kitchen is another area where the worlds converse and cook. Recipes are exchanged, meals shared and smiles spread following the old wise saying ‘the road to the heart passes through the stomach’.
Q. How about cleanliness, noise and other issues that arise from sharing rooms?
A. All the hostels I encountered were very well-maintained by the staff. And, the people staying there take utmost care to not offend anyone. Since they themselves don’t like the mess or the noise. So, it is a retrospective habit. Yes sometimes when someone checks in or departs at weird hours, it can cause a bit of disturbance to the light sleepers.
You can utilize ear-plugs and eye cover for such scenarios.
Q. Who can stay at the hostel? Are there any age restrictions?
A. 18 and older can stay at the hostel. Some hostels even allow younger than 18. It varies from hostel to hostel.
Q. I am 50. And, I feel a bit nervous staying at a hostel with all the young people!
A. During my stay at different hostels I met people of different age groups. And, they were all embraced. I am sure you will make friends in hostels.
Q. What if I don’t like sharing space with strangers but still want the hostel experience?
A. A common myth is that hostels only have dorms. No, modern-day hostels have private rooms as well. You can stay in one and enjoy the hostel experience by socializing with people in the common area or the kitchen.
Q. Are there any curfew rules at the hostel?
A. Contrary to popular belief, hostels aren’t part of any education association. They are private enterprises just like hotels but with more fun and experience. So, no curfew rules.
Q. What about security? How do I protect my camera, laptop, passport etc?
A. Hostel dorms have lockers. So, just carry a good strong lock. You can buy or rent a lock at some hostels too. Your stuff is safe in the lockers. So, put all the priced goods in it.
Q. Where can I book a hostel?
Final Words: If you are interested in sharing more than just a selfie with Jesus of Rio and a 6-second Machu Picchu snap then walk into a hostel next time you are traveling. The hostels are full of people with liberal values, respect for cultures, curiosity for our beautiful world and a tendency to converse and befriend people. These kind of people are hard to find in our world thanks to the ravage spread by the hate-loving media and divisive politics. You will feel happy, very happy. Something that we all search for in our every day lives, you will find every day in these hostels.