Proclaiming backpacking plans to everyone while sharing a daily countdown until you jet off has to be one of the most exhilarating feelings. Then come the questions covering who, what, where, when, why, and how? Followed by very confused looks after uttering the phrase ‘I’ll be staying in hostels.’ Budget accommodation dreams come true for backpackers but an unknown mystery to those whose only knowledge stems from the horror movie series.
Closing in on 60 hostels across 3 continents and I have yet to be scared away or stop recommending hostels to others when backpacking. They are the ideal zero commitment accommodation option where less than 24 hour notices before moving out is expected. Plus, they’re cheap, and when it comes to backpacking that’s the name of the game.
Hostel accommodation and room types vary from country to country and mostly depend on the size of the hostel. Small hostels house no more than 20-30 people while large ones can accommodate well over 100. They have all living necessities that any house would have; kitchens, laundry machines, common rooms, lounges and TV areas. Bathroom and shower areas can be communal stalls or stand alone en-suite styles attached to each room. Most come outfitted with extra perks such as free all-day tea and coffee, BBQ areas and weekly dinners. Free breakfasts are common and include everything from toast with jams, cereal, all you can eat pancakes and fruit platters. When staying in warmer climate countries some will even have swimming pools. Larger hostels commonly have their own pubs or restaurants attached offering discounts and/or longer happy hours for those staying as well.
Hostel prices very much depend on which country you are in or continent you are on. From 5$ a night in Nicaragua to 42$ a night in Paris and 25$ a night in Australia, prices per night vary across the globe. Shopping around for hostels is no different from shopping around for a hotel room and weekly rates rather than nightly ones come with added discounts. Generally, there are four room types within hostels.
The cheapest options that will bring you back to your youth of sleeping on bunk beds. Dorm rooms will most commonly range from 4 to 16 people each and tend to get less expensive the more beds in the room. On the off-chance you’ll be lucky enough to experience 50 person or even 150 person dorm rooms. Rare, but I’ve been lucky enough to experience both.
Female Dorm Rooms
Female dorms are exactly the same as standard dorm rooms, with the exception that no boys are allowed. Not all hostels will have a female only dorm option but when given they tend to fill up quickly. Most times female dorms will be the same cost but occasionally are slightly more than mixed dorms.
Double / Triple / Quad Rooms
Perfect for smaller groups travelling together for the added security and privacy of not having to share a room with strangers. These rooms are a mix of single and bunk beds for no more than 4 people. They tend to be more expensive than dorm rooms but cheaper than private room options.
The hostel life luxury living experience and most expensive option. Private rooms are home to the only double or queen size beds you will find in a hostel. They will occasionally include perks such as mini fridges and en-suite bathrooms. Price differences between dorms and privates can vary greatly, mostly depending where you are travelling. It’s always best to check prices just incase. Throughout Central America private rooms were just dollars more per night while in Australia they are double that of a dorm bed.
Hostels, similar to any other type of accommodation, are all very different. Doing research, browsing reviews and taking recommendations from other travellers is always the best option. You will stay in hostels you love and ones you hate, no two are exactly the same and that’s the best part. Nearly 60 hostels down and so many more to go as the country hopping and travels continue!