How to pick a hostel

The majority of you when travelling will probably end up in hostels to stay in - some people even end up staying long term in hostels...

The majority of you when travelling will probably end up in hostels to stay in - some people even end up staying long term in hostels because of jobs there, social situations or even money. There are other options which I can talk about in another post, but for now, here are some tips on what to look for in a hostel:

I know this may sound like an odd one, and I’ve never experienced a lack of it myself, but look for ones that include linen. Now this is your bed sheets, as obviously it’s kind of a big deal. Some hostels have proper duvets and some just have sheets depending on the location's climate, but I’ve heard stories of people not having anything whatsoever so it’s always good to make sure it says it on the booking website.

This is a big one for me as I’m a massive security freak and am constantly afraid of losing my valuable items, so much  that I have my own little hiding places if lockers aren’t available, haha! But lockers are a big plus (you will need to supply your own padlock the majority of the time) to store passports, tickets, electronics, or anything else that you don’t want stolen. To be honest, when travelling I have found the majority of people to be trustworthy and after some time in hostels I’m often fine leaving my electronics charging in a common area, but it’s still something that is a big deal to me nonetheless.

This is a really personal topic, but choose something that is suitable for you and your needs when travelling. Do you want to be by the beach? Are you more of an inner city person? Are you going to need public transport? Choose your hostel on proximity to the things that you want out of your travels.

For a lot of people this is at the top of the list but it really depends on everyone’s budget. I obviously have a budget cause I don’t want to spend $100 a night on a hostel (not that anybody in their right mind would want to do that) but I generally have a rule of thumb that I’m willing to pay anything up to $35 a night with that upper limit being a complete maximum that I do begrudge paying unless absolutely necessary. I don’t tend to go for the cheapest option because a lot of the time they’re not all that great but I’ve found along the way that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time, it all depends on the people that you meet there.

Reviews and Recommendations
This one should be a no brainer. Look at reviews on websites such as hostelbooker and  hostelworld and get an overall impression of the place. Don’t go and read reviews from 2010 when the place was newly built, but maybe a few months before your arrival. When I was in Brisbane, all the reviews were rubbish for all the hostels so I went to Facebook, posted a status asking my travelling friends for recommendations and found an absolutely amazing one which I stayed for 2 months in. 

Book for a small period
Even if there are cheap weekly rates, do NOT book a week straight off the bat. I’ve found that 3 days is enough to gather your opinions on a place and get a feel for the atmosphere. By then you can see if you can book another week at the cheap rates if you feel you like it. I’ve made the mistake before of booking a hostel for a week and absolutely hating it and wanting to leave. Obviously I could have left, but then I would have had to sacrifice the money I had forked out on the place.

Free Stuff
Anybody and everybody loves a good ol’ freebie, so why not add that on to the list of things to look for. This is usually somewhere near the bottom of my list of priorities for hostels but it’s always a bonus when you get some. From wifi to breakfast to a free pool table even, it can really make all the difference. 

Psst, also - in a lot of hostels, if you just turn up, the front reception staff will give you a tour of the hostel. They will often let you know what events are happening or general information on the place itself if you want to get a real feel for the hostel rather than just looking at pictures.

Okay, so there’s a few of the things I look for and do when booking a hostel. I hope this helps and look out for more travel tips soon.

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