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The Art of Hostel Hunting

With every trip plan in the making, comes the decisive task of finding your accommodation. For most student travelers, living in hostels seems to be a very popular option, as it saves money and provides a friendly environment for students to meet other student travelers. Living in a hostel can be a very fun experience depending on how you make it to be. But before you book that hostel, you need to pick the hostel that is going to fit your needs. Finding the right hostel is more than just saving money.  It’s also about safety, location, and so much more.  This is why finding a hostel is truly an art: you have to figure out how to prioritize your needs. No hostel is the same nor perfect, which makes finding the right one difficult.

So what makes all hostels different? The following are just a few factors to consider when picking a hostel:

1. Price.  This is the main reason students book hostels, and while there is nothing wrong with that, you shouldn’t decide on  a hostel solely based on the price.  First, figure out the general range of prices in your chosen city to see what would be the normal amount to pay for a hostel in that city. Be careful if you see a hostel that’s unusually cheaper than the others! There has to be a good reason why some hostels are cheaper than others, and that could be the hostel doesn’t include Wi-Fi or bed sheets in the amount you pay.

2. Safety.  This can mean different things to travelers. One could be figuring out if your hostel is in a good neighborhood. Another could be whether the bathrooms give you enough privacy. Or it could be whether they provide lockers for you to keep your valuables such as laptops and passports. I’ve heard horror stories from friends traveling in Paris where the rooms would not lock and one of their roommates ended up getting his laptop stolen. This is where the reviews come in – look out for any complaints about what the hostel lacked or put travelers in horrible situations.

3. Location.  How important location is depends on whether you prefer to easily walk to the city center or can easily take public transport to get there. Usually cheaper hostels are farther away from the city center, and tend to also have more availability. You might want to factor in transportation (train or bus) costs and compare the total price to how much you would pay for a hostel that only requires walking.

4. Wi-Fi.  When you are traveling, it is always a good idea to let others know you are safe.  If you do not have a phone plan that allows you to call home internationally, Wi-Fi will be of great importance here.  It can also be useful for buying tickets online or for mapping out your next day’s itinerary. Most hostels provide free Wifi, though not all hostels provide good Wifi.  Some hostels provide it for additional costs.  Again, check the reviews!

5. Breakfast.  Most hostels I’ve stayed in provided free breakfast or an unusually cheap breakfast buffet option. Having breakfast provided in the hostel can be super convenient as it allows you to avoid the trouble of finding places to eat. If your hostel provides buffet breakfast, it will also help to pack some of the food and take it with you in case you get hungry later in the day. You can save money on lunch this way. Personally, I like to have a big breakfast before starting my day because I prefer not to waste time finding a restaurant for lunch and use that valuable time to explore the city.

There could be many other factors for picking hostels, whether that is cleanliness, social environment, whatever is important to making your travel stay a good experience. If this is your first time hunting for a hostel, do not fret! The best place to look for hostels is online, with websites such as hostelworld.com being the largest hostel database on the Internet. This website features ratings and reviews given by other travelers, which will be valuable to helping you find the hostel that suits your needs. If you know other student travelers who have visited the same city, it would also be wise to ask which hostel they stayed at and whether they would recommend it to anyone.

Good luck on hostel hunting, and stay safe!

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