Before I began my backpacking trip, my friends listed so many negative hostel myths. Of course, they’d never had any experiences of staying in hostels. However, there are many myths around hostels, which can put people off before they’ve even left the door. I want to put out there, that I recommend hostels over hotels when travelling 100%.
After staying in over 50 different hostel/guesthouses, I want to bust a few of these hostel myths.
Hostels are dirty
This is probably joint top on the list of negative hostel myths. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect, I had only seen pictures on the internet and from that horror movie “Hostel”. After researching, it seemed that there was a wide array of hostels in the well-travelled countries that appeared new and high-spec. From my experience staying in hostels, I’ve found that there is a mix of good and bad. Pictures can be deceiving too, so make sure you read some reviews before hand.
Generally though, hostels are very clean. They have cleaners working through the day, sprucing up the facility on a regular basis. Clearly, it is not going to be like staying at home, where you and your family/friends clean up after themselves. Adjust your expectations, and you won’t have any issues. You would hardly expect your hostel to be as clean and liveable as a 5* hotel. Some of the hostels I have stayed were, in fact cleaner than my place back home.
Sex in Hostel Dorms
This myth is one of those that definitely occurs whilst staying in hostels. I didn’t experience this regularly, but it can happen. The first time I remember being exposed to this annoyance (and exposed is the word), was when I was in Australia. A backpacking Mecca for young people on their gap year, who are incredibly carefree. The chances of this happening will depend on the places you visit and the type of hostel you stay in. If you are in a city popular for partying, or you stay in a party hostel, you might find yourself experiencing this ordeal. However I travelled a year through Asia, and I can’t recall any horrible moments.
Stealing in Hostels
Whether you are backpacking or on a two week break… Staying in hostels or hotels… You should always keep your valuables safe. This is one of those bad hostel myths that I’ve seen happen alot. It bugs me so much to see travellers leave there belongings lying around because they think that the hostel is filled with good and trustworthy people. Most of us are, but if you leave your laptop, wallet, iPhone out on the bed, whilst you head to the common room, you are tempting fate.
Most hostels offer lockers to store valuables. If not put valuables in your rucksack, and lock it up. This way, they will be out of sight and people aren’t going to break into your bag, as most likely all they’ll find are your dirty socks. It’s not always other guests, I have stayed in places where cleaners have stolen valuables from rooms. My advice – lock up valuables, at the least keep them out of site.
Snoring in Hostels
The struggle is real with this one. The more people in your dorm, the higher chance you will be stuck with a dreaded snorer. Simple maths. I don’t know if this is true also, but I found correlation between local Asian tourists in my dorm and the likeliness they were a snorer. Hence, whilst I travelled in Japan, where many of the guests were local, snoring was a nightly occurrence. You can take some ear plugs, or if that doesn’t suit, throw something at the snorer. If that fails just scream, and when everybody wakes up, pretend you were asleep. The snoring can take a brief intermission and no one will know what has woken them. Snoring is an annoyance that you are going to have to deal with sooner or later.
Hostel Parties every night
This will depend on the type you stay at. Party hostels are not my personal preference but many people love them. The problem I found with them was that they were noisy every single night. If you fancy an early night after a long day of exploring, you can forget it. In several hostels I stayed at, a large demographic was made up of people whose sole mission was to drink to oblivion and acquire a stinking hangover the next day.
I prefer staying in hostels that are smaller and more cosy, they feel more like a home full of your friends. In these ones, you can also meet lots of people, but multiple bottles of vodka aren’t a compulsory guest. I have met some amazing friends across several of my favourite hostels and will dedicate a post to my best stays.
You will meet lots of people
This depends largely on you. It can be a daunting feeling, rocking up at the hostel alone and introducing yourself randomly to people you don’t know. But you simply have to. Soon it will just come naturally and you know that this is a really effective way to meet new people. The difference between backpacking and normal life, is that backpackers is like a community. It sounds like a cult, but it’s not. You instantly have something in common with that other person. You can randomly approach and introduce yourself without the person thinking you have an agenda. I always say that building friendships whilst backpacking, happens 20x faster than in normal life. This is what is so amazing about staying in hostels and travelling.
You’ve got to be 18 years old to stay in a hostel
This is absolute myth. I have met such diverse people staaying in hostels from all different ages and backgrounds. My friend even met a man in a hostel so old, the man died in the bed next to him. In my experience, I have found that most people in hostels are in there early to mid-20s, however, I have also met many business people too, journalists and film makers who simply prefer the relaxed vibe of a hostel. There are different types of hostels to suit all people, and with the internet at your fingertips, doing an easy bit of research will help you pick the right on. Hostel World is a fantastic site/app which I use and review on religiously.
Don’t believe all the hostel myths
As you can probably guess, I am really passionate and love staying in hostels and wish someday, that I can open one myself. They are places where you will meet your closest friends whilst travelling, and it’s with these people that you enjoy your experiences with. Travelling alone is brave, but sharing your adventure with others is far more exciting. Don’t listen to what people tell you at home, after all, they probably have never stayed in a hostel and have watched too much TV. Hostels are so much better than hotels. After all, it’s not the luxuries of a comfy bed, or free soaps that make a great trip, it’s the things you do and the people you meet along the way.
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