Hostels vs. hotels: Hostels for the win

street of london

Street of London. Photo Credit Jenny Cameron

Backpacking across various parts of the world has become an increasingly popular activity. It is officially time to forget about staying in over priced hotels and start staying in overcrowded hostels.

Forget about the obvious price differences between the two, as hotels in Europe average at around $300-$500 a night and hostels in Europe average at around $30-$50 a night. Isabella Cabido, and experienced backpack traveller, says, “Almost everyone travels on a budget, so staying in hostels is necessary while travelling abroad.”

Cabido left for a seven-month long backpacking trip in Europe in summer 2014 and opted to stay in hostels than cheap hotels that were only a little bit more expensive. “I find that hotels don’t give off relaxed vibes that hostels give off,” she says. She likes being able to walk around in pyjamas and with her hair in a mess, which is how many travellers in hostels look like.

In hotels, you rent an entire room, and in hostels you just get a bed in a room full of strangers. This means that the washrooms, kitchen and dining area, the lounge and bedrooms are shared with other guests. You say goodbye to your privacy, but hello to some of the most interesting people you will ever meet from all around the world. Cabido recalled she met an Australian 20-something-year-old travelling by herself, who had been backpacking and working across Europe for eight months. A year later, they still keep in touch through postcards and Facebook.

During a portion of Cabido’s trip, she and her travel buddy decided to part ways for a few weeks, as they both wanted to see different things. Cabido admits she was nervous being alone in Europe, but this fear quickly went away after she met a fellow Canadian who was also travelling alone in a hostel. In hostels, you can sit in a common area, or even the bathroom, and people will come up and start talking to you..

Hostels provide a wide range of activities for guests. Some provide pub crawls, drinking activities such as beer pong, performances, movie nights, and tours of the city. Some hotels provide some of these same activities, but you’ll find that hostels are more prone to do so. In a lot of cases, hostels are in or near the heart of the city, so there is always something to do close by.

There is an obvious fear that many travellers feel before or during their trip and that is safety. Hostels may not seem the safest way to travel, as you are sleeping and keeping all your personal belongings in a room full of strangers, but there are preventative measures that are taken to try and ensure safety.

Many hostels have codes to get into each bedroom and they provide lockers in the room to safely store personal items. Cabido says, “There was only really one time I felt uncertain about my safety and that was in an Amsterdam hostel and we were sharing a room with like eight guys and they all came in drunk and high.” There is no way to tell what type of temporary roommates you will get, but it’s important to keep in mind that there are far more good people than bad people. Most people staying in hostels are in the same boat as you and are travellers trying to experience new things and create new memories.

“After living my dream of backpacking Europe, some of the greatest memories I have are with all the people I met at the hostels I stayed at,” Cabildo says.

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