14 Steps To Book The Best Hostel and Get The Most Out Of It
Are you new to traveling solo and want to ensure you book a clean hostel? You want the perfect balance between being social, but you also want to be able to sleep at night. Traveling solo and staying in hostels can be a great opportunity to meet many new and interesting people, but not all hostels are created equal.
I am always on the hunt to find the perfect hostel and think that I have found a pretty good formula to ensure I always book a clean, but fun hostel.
I’m going to share with you some of the tricks and tips I use when booking a hostel.
Here Is How You Find The Best Hostels
1.Book Female Only Dorms
This is my number one rule when staying in a hostel. I always book a female dorm. This helps me sleep better because there are no loud and obnoxious snoring men to bother me. Females tend to be more respectful about personal space and how much noise they make.
They will usually cost you a few more dollars than the normal dorm so fewer people tend to book them. This gives you better odds of having the room all to yourself. Staying in a female dorm gives you the social aspect of staying in a hostel when you want to meet people, but you also get your personal space when you need it.
2. Using Booking.com
I am in love with Booking. I use it all the time and depend highly on other people’s ratings for the places I book. It is like TripAdvisor, but for hotels and hostels. I am never disappointed. It is easy to sort by price and rating to ensure you are getting the best value for your money.
They also tend to have better rates than Hostelworld, which charges you a commission between 10% and 25%. Something I love about Booking is the more you use it, the more you save. I have been using it so much that I was actually getting better rates through their app than I could get just showing up at the hostel. It is a great app and a must-have when you are traveling.
Check out my other travel apps that I can’t live without.
3. Always Look For An Ensuite Bathroom
I always try to find a female-only dorm with an ensuite bathroom attached to it. This will help you from heading down the hallway in the middle of the night to use the toilet. It is also nice to leave your toothbrush and face wash in the bathroom and not have to carry it back and forth.
It also beats walking down the hallway in your towel. Most female dorms these days will have the ensuite bathroom. It helps you to feel like you are not staying in a hostel when you have your own bathroom attached. It is worth the couple extra dollars to book this one as well. Trust me!
4. Stay In Pods
Next to booking only female dorms with ensuite bathrooms, I always try to find a hostel that has pods or at least a curtain. After traveling for long periods of time, sometimes you just need your space and staying in pods is the best way to get it.
Not only that, but it also ensures that I sleep better and I am not distracted when someone stumbles in at 3 am or has to wake up at 5 am to catch their next train. Staying in pods has changed my life and it is the only way I am still able to stay in hostels. The more money I am able to save on accommodation, the longer I am able to travel and the more money I am able to spend doing the things I love.
5. Compare Prices
It is always a good idea to compare prices to ensure you are getting the best deal. I always compare Booking with Hostelworld, and 99% of the time Booking wins. I also like to check on Airbnb and even do a walk-in rate if I notice there are a ton of free rooms and it is low season.
Once you know what hostel you want to stay in, you can shop around that location and you might be able to save money when you compare. If you notice there are a lot of rooms available the day before you are meant to check-in, ask for a walk-in rate and see if they can give you a better deal. If not, you can book online as you are checking in.
6. Location, Location, Location
When it comes to booking a hostel, location is important. I prefer to be in the heart of the city because I enjoy walking to everything. Be aware that this usually means it is going to be a little louder than if you stay outside the main square.
The location you want all depends on your preference. Be sure to check out where your hostel is on a map before you book it, this guarantees you aren’t too far from where you want to be. You don’t want to be so far out of town that you are going to have to take taxis everywhere. Be sure to be either close to public transport or in the center of town.
How To Enjoy The Best Hostels
7. Bring Flip-Flops
As a traveler hopefully you have learned the importance of packing a pair rubber flip-flops. They are great for the beach and for the hostel shower. You don’t always know how often the showers are being cleaned and what else might be going on in there.
I always want to ensure I keep my feet clean and off the floors in hostels, especially the shower. I always travel with an extra pair of Havaianas to ensure my feet won’t be touching the bottom of the shower. This helps to prevent me from getting any foot fungus. Yuk!
8. Bring Your Own Lock
Most hostels these days will provide you with your own locker and they will give you a key for it, but you can never be too sure. I always travel with a small luggage lock to help keep my things secure.
I am always extra careful when traveling and would rather be safe than sorry. I tend to be overprotective of my belongings. There is nothing worse than your vacation being interrupted because your cell phone or worse, your passport, goes missing.
9. Pack Earplugs and An Eye Mask
If you are a light sleeper then traveling with earplugs and an eye mask are essential. They can help you sleep through planes, trains, automobiles and are life-savers if you happen to book a noisy hostel by mistake.
I always travel with an eye mask and earplugs, they have saved me a number of times. Whether the hostel was on a busy street or there are bursts of sunshine coming through the room early in the morning, it is always nice to have them when you want to sleep. Traveling can be exhausting so you want to take advantage of a good nights rest when you can.
10. Make Friends With Reception
The best part about staying in hostels is making friends with the people that work in the hostel. They are local to the area you are staying in so they know a lot about it. They will know about any local hot spot or cheap find and will gladly lead you there.
Ask them anything you want to know about the city and they will be happy to help you out. It always helps to make friends with the locals when you are traveling. They are able to give you insight on the place you are visiting that you normally wouldn’t get as a tourist, and it is the best way to get a true feel for where you are visiting. Remember, you are a guest in their city so always be respectful!
11. Always Get A Local Map
Most hostels will have local maps that have discounts on places to eat. Besides asking the locals who work in the hostel, I find the best recommendations from these maps. They are great for finding restaurants that you normally wouldn’t stumble upon or find on TripAdvisor.
Sometimes it is nice to kick it old school and use a paper map for fun and leave your phone behind. You are usually able to find coupons in them as well, which comes in handy when you are you trying to save money while traveling.
12. Take Advantage Of Organized Tours
Hostels these days tend to be very social and great at organizing tours that include pub crawls or family dinners. It is a great way to meet people in your hostel while doing something fun. When you check into the hostel, be sure to ask about their scheduled events and see if there is anything you would like to join.
It is always better to head to a museum with new friends from your hostel rather than heading there solo. The hostel will normally have a schedule in the common area of what they have planned for the week. Take advantage of what they have to offer!
13. Keep Your Night Bag Separate
When staying in a hostel you have to be respectful to other people that are sleeping in your dorm. You want to be as quiet as possible when you are coming in and out of the room because you never know who might be sleeping.
I always like to keep my nighttime clothes on my bed with my toothbrush and face wash, if I am not staying with an ensuite bathroom. I try to leave everything out of the bag that I might need that night or morning.
There is nothing worse than trying to sleep and someone coming in turning on the lights and unzipping their bags. It is much easier to be quiet if everything is out of your bag and ready to use. Since I don’t like hearing it, I try to have the same respect for others in my room.
14. Use The Common Area
The best thing about hostels is their common area because it is a great way to meet people. Staying in hostels is fun and you get to meet people from all around the world, of all different ages and you can learn so much from them.
When traveling solo you never truly are alone if you stay in a hostel. There are always opportunities to meet new people and make lifelong friends which is why I prefer them to staying in an Airbnb or hotel.
I hope these simple steps can help ease the stress of staying in hostels so you can find the best one for you.