6 Reasons Why I Love Staying at Backpacker Hostels
Backpacker hostels are found in nearly every city and tourist destination around the world and, apart from camping and couchsurfing, are often the cheapest forms of accommodation but there’s so much more to the backpacker hostel experience than just a cheap place to crash!
I’ve been traveling around the world staying in backpacker hostels for years now, but I don’t just stay at hostels only because I want to save money, there’s a whole heap of other benefits, things that make hostels unique, and reasons to love staying at backpacker hostels, rather than just wanting a cheap bed.
Especially if I’m traveling solo – I wouldn’t really want to stay anywhere else – not even in a 5 star resort – I’d rather stay in a hostel than be lonely in a posh hotel on my own!
6 Reasons you should stay in backpacker hostels
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#1 Backpacker hostels allow you to save alot of money on accommodation
Let’s start with the obvious. After flights, the biggest expense of traveling is often accommodation. If you are planning to backpack on a budget then you’ve probably already heard that staying in youth hostels or backpacker hostels is one of the best ways to save money, meaning you can see the world without breaking the bank and of course; the more money you save the longer you can travel!
Mad Monkey Hostels are some of my favourite hostels – always clean, sociable and alot of fun. They have an amazing offer with their flexible and great value Golden Tickets! Choose from 30, 60 or 90 days and stay at ANY Mad Monkey Hostel in Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, or Laos for a super low, fixed, one-time fee. Prices start at only £77 (about USD $108) for 30 days flexible mix and match dorm accommodation. All you need to do is buy your Golden Ticket and that’s your accommodation sorted! Click here for more details and to get your Golden Ticket!
#2 Backpacker hostels are great places to meet like minded travelers and make friends
If you want to take a solo trip but are worried about feeling lonely then finding the coolest, most sociable backpacker hostels should be an important part of your trip planning. Staying in a backpacker hostel is also a great to meet people if you are traveling solo as they tend to be sociable places. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can form a bond and make new friends at hostels and how easy it is to find someone to travel onwards with.
Hostels often have a sociable atmosphere, many have a bar or common area where you can meet others and, chances are, you will find some one with the same interests as you or someone who is planning on heading the same way. Meeting new people and being immersed in an international community of like minded travellers is one of the best things about backpacking.
#3 Hostels often include some Freebies!
I’m shocked when I heer fancy hotels charging for wifi after the high prices for the room but luckily most backpacker hostels offer free wifi and loads more freebies thrown in for the price of a dorm bed. Sometimes there is a free walking tour, perhaps free entertainment or free meals (eg. BBQ or Pizza nights and pancakes on Sundays) Some hostels offer a free pickup, free books, travel guides or maps, free luggage storage or free movie nights, free bicycle, snorkel or surfboard hire, many have a free breakfast, coffee and tea (often you fix it yourself and its basic but still – it’s free!) and sometimes even free meals or free drinks at the bar! They know that backpackers are drawn to a freebie!
#4 The best backpacker hostels have loads of facilities
Backpacker hostels come in all shapes and sizes and there are even hostel awards. Many backpacker hostels now are funky, modern and clean, a far cry from the dingy backpacker hovels of 10 years ago. The best backpacker hostels often have privacy curtains around each bed and each bed has a personal power point to plug in your electronics, reading light and lockers. Some hostels are purpose built, others in historic buildings with heaps of character, some are quirky – take the increasing number of prison themed hostels!
Many backpacker hostels have all the facilities that you would expect from a resort or hotel but for a fraction of the price and with a more sociable and inclusive atmosphere. Many backpacker hostels in Australia even have swimming pools and a young and friendly resort atmosphere. You can also expect to find computers, internet and wifi to keep in touch with everyone back home and often books and games, travel info and help with tour and transport booking. I often go for hostels that have a kitchen too so I can save even more money by cooking my own food.
#5 Hostel staff often have local knowledge and give great travel tips
There are some chain backpacker hostels but most are small, independent operations. By staying in these hostels you are putting your money somewhere that will directly go to the local community, rather than the CEO of a fancy international hotel chain. Plus hostel staff are usually really friendly and happy to help you with sightseeing and local insider knowledge and travel tips. Don’t be shy to ask advice from hostel staff about where to go and what to do, I’ve found that often the hostel staff know loads about the local area and have all the best money saving tips. In some places they will even take you out on the town, for example, in Kuala Lumpur the hostel staff showed us to an awesome roof top bar that we would never have found on our own.
#6 You could even stay for Free!
If you are really skint, or really keen to save money, there are even ways to get accommodation for free. Some hostels will operate a work for accommodation scheme where you help out by working in the hostel for a few hours a day in exchange for a free bed and often also something to eat and drink too, I don’t see many hotels offering this. You can often find these kind of opportunities on websites like Workaway and Helpx. Also see more ways to Travel for Free.
I use Hostelworld.com to find, check reviews and book hostels all over the world. But not all backpacker hostels are equal though, and where you stay, especially if traveling solo and looking to make friends, can make or break your trip so always check out the reviews properly, for example if you want to get an early night don’t stay at a party hostel even if it’s the most popular in town and has great reviews.
I’ve lost count of how many backpacker hostels I’ve stayed in after 5 years of full time travel plus a European interrailing adventure. To help you pick a great backpacker hostel I’ve put my recommendations, tips from other travel bloggers and friends and research into some posts about the best backpacker hostels in popular cities I’ve visited.