If you are solo backpacker or a budget traveler, then there is no better place than staying in a hostel. A place where you can chill out with other like-minded travelers, exchange stories and make new friends. With so many options out there from sites like HostelWorld and HostelBookers , it is very easy to book a hostel these days. But there are a few things that you need to keep in mind before booking a hostel.
Check the Room Options:
The options range from private rooms to 2 shared to 12 shared rooms (or even more). But what you need to know is that if you are sharing a single room with more than 8 people, it is going to be difficult. In most of the hostels, the rooms may not get any bigger, it will just be many beds cramped together. And if there is only one common bathroom in a 10 shared room….well good luck with that. It may be the cheapest and the worst option in the hostel. If you can, shell a bit more and get into a 4 shared or a 6 shared atleast. Go for cheapest option only if you really need it.
Check for Lockers:
Most of the hostels nowadays have the lockers installed below the bed which I found to be a very good feature. Many people check in and out everyday in a hostel. Before booking a hostel, always filter out the hostels which are having the Locker Facility. You don’t want to leave your valuables and backpack unattended.
Check out this wonderful guide for choosing the best traveling backpack. Also check the detailed reviews for the best travel backpacks out there.
Always read the Bad Reviews:
Always read the reviews. See what other travelers had to say about the hostel. Good reviews are not really important because….well…you know, they are good. But bad reviews will give you an idea of what you need to expect when booking in that hostel. Use your own judgement to find out what is bad for you because I have read some people say that the hostel is too noisy and crowded. Well it is a budget friendly hostel, what do you expect.
Be aware of the Location of the hostel:
Some hostels might say they are beach-side ones or they are located in the heart of the city. But it is always recommended to do a quick recon on the Google Maps to see where it is. Check out the distance from the airport and how far the local attractions are from the hostel. Also check the public transportation in the area. Some hostels are located in shadier places which you would like to avoid at all costs.
Look out for the Special Features:
Some hostels may have really cool features like a swimming pool, dance floors, terrace or quirky and creative common areas. Some even arrange some fun games or cooking classes. See what you find attractive before booking.
Always bring your own Towel:
This is something I learnt from my own mistake. In Goa, After rampaging through my rucksack I found that I did not bring my towel. And the the hostel I stayed in had run out of towels at the last moment. I had to then go to a nearby shop which had only hand towels. I bought three of them and used them together as a single towel. Most of the hostels do have their own towels but are most likely to run out of stock or can be dirty. So lesson learnt there.
Book like a Pro:
You might find that the hostel prices vary in different sites. While I did find the prices in hostelbookers to be reasonable but there are a few hostels which are quoting a lower price in their official site. So before zeroing down on a hostel please do take a quick glance at what the hostel’s official website has to offer.
Know the type of Hostel you want:
Hostels may be cheap but there are different types to choose from if you are willing to look over the cheap options. You can choose the hostel you want based on what kind of experience you are looking for.
Cheap Hostels – For budget travelers
Homely Hostels – Will look more like your own bedroom, just that your sharing this one, much cleaner as well
Boutique Hostels – Expensive, luxurious, well-designed and better facilities
Party Hostels – Attractive, Booze, noisy all night and silent during the day (Hangovers…you know)
Book in Advance:
Once you have gone through all the above tips and decided a hostel to stay in; Book in advance right-away. You don’t want to run out of rooms at the last moment and follow the same tedious process to book another one. You may have to pay the full amount when booking from the official website of the hostel. But if you are booking from sites like HostelWorld or HostelBookers you may just have to may a small reservation amount, usually around 100 INR (2$). Keep an eye on the cancellation policy as well as the refund procedure.
Head over to Let’s Backpack if you are looking for a guide on How to Find the Best Accommodation.
Happy Travels and Merry Christmas !!!
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