Pack to Backpack

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How to choose a good hostel while backpacking

Hostels are the best way to meet people when you are a solo traveller. Choosing a good one is very important and can have a big impact on how much are you going to enjoy the city you are in. I will share some tips with you on how to select the best hostels and have a great time.

  • Check the rating on Hostelworld – Hostelworld is the best platform for booking hostels and it can give you good information about the facilities, cleanliness, security, etc. But the main ratings don’t always tell you everything about that place. Look at reviews and check for specific complains like no hot shower, too strong/no AC, no lockers, bed bugs, etc. The number of reviews is also important, in knowing if the hostel will be full or not.
  • Choose a mixed dorm, preferably 6 to 8 beds – When you check-in at a hostel you know the first people you will meet are those in your room. Getting a room of three or four bunk beds will guarantee you that some of those people are cool. I’ve stayed in rooms of 12 or even 20 beds, but the chances of someone snoring, fucking in the room or waking up at 6 am are much higher. The more girls in the room, the less chances of someone snoring. Also, the rooms with privacy curtains tend to be less sociable.
  • Hostels with bars or common areas are great for meeting other people than those in your room. If the hostel has a good atmosphere, you will eventually meet everyone from the hostel there.

Common grounds, Pai, Thailand

  • Common showers and toilets – I much prefer the common showers and toilets than en suite. When you share the room with five or six other people and everyone in the room wakes up at the same time, there will be a queue for the bathroom. You don’t want to wait half an hour for someone to take a shower.
  • If you are in a big city and you plan going out at night, look for a hostel with a good location. The last thing you want at 3am is getting an overpriced taxi back to the hostel. If you arrive in that city by train or bus, check how far it is from the train/bus station.
  • A big plus for a hostel is to have a good facilitiesA swimming pool, a foosball table or a pool table are other great ways to have fun if you get bored. I’ve played more pool in Asia than in my entire life and it is most of the times free.

Arenal Backpackers Resort, Costa Rica

  • The activities organised by the hostel can give you an idea of how sociable it is. If there are beer pong tournaments or pub crawls every night, that’s definitely a party hostel. I’ve been in many hostels where they had movie nights, free walking tours, karaoke nights or dance/yoga lessons.

Backpacking pro tip: Some hostels don’t have all the beds advertised on hostelworld, which means even that a hostel shows as fully booked, you can still get a bed if you go in person.

In terms of booking the hostel online or in person, I think 80% of the times I just showed up at the hostel with no reservation. Of course you first make your list of hostels from hostelworld or from recommendations, but if you see online that the hostel is not full, you should just show up. Sometimes the price is cheaper at the hostel than online. However, for some events you have to book one long time before. Popular hostels are usually fully booked for New Years Eve, full moon party or other special occasions.

Do you have any tips to share on choosing a hostel?


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