Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hostel Environment

Question: I'm interested in backpacking through Europe, but I have very little money for accommodations. Hostels seem like the best and inexpensive choice for me, but I think I'm too old. Do you recommend hostels? And are they safe?

Answer: This is an interesting question, because when I started teaching my class, most of the people who asked me about hostels were students. Over time, older adults begin inquiring. Hostels aren't for students anymore. The 26 year old rule still exists, but has disappeared in most countries and it doesn't matter how old you are anymore. I know of quite a few retired couples who frequent hostels in the United States and abroad.

Hostels --- next to camping or couchsurfing --- is an inexpensive option to lodging. The average hostel in Europe costs about $10-$30 a night, compared to $60-$120 per night for a hotel room. Staying at hostels can expand your trip by weeks and save you bundles of money.

Of course there's a catch to sleeping at one. For those of you who don't know, the average hostel room consists of bunk beds and not much else. I've seen rooms with up to 12 bunk beds. Essentially, you're sleeping in a room with a number of other people. Single rooms are available in hostels, but they tend to be as expensive as a small hotel room.

In order to save you money, hostels don't offer many frills. They offer a community toilet and shower. Some rooms offer lockers for your luggage. Others have a business center for checking email, but, for the most part, they're simple. And in order to save you money, they have to be.

On the safety issue, I suggest you take the same precautions in hostels as you would anywhere else. Keep your personal and valuable belongings on you or locked in a locker. Keep a weary eye.

I hope I'm not deterring you from hostels. In spite of what it sounds, they can be fun. Most of the travelers you'll meet are very nice. In fact, if you're traveling alone, you may find a partner to hit the town with.

Here are a few more tips to consider when staying at a hostel:

  • Buy a lock for your bag in case the hostel doesn't provide lockers
  • Be prepared to sleep in a room with members of the opposite sex
  • Honor the hostel curfew
  • Respect your roommates by being quiet, if they're sleeping
Hope this helps!

* Have a question? Please send an email to travelerspen@yahoo.com or leave a comment.

Terah Shelton
Traveler. Writer. Ingenue

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