The blog title pretty much sums up hostel living in those three simple words; Let me break it down for you…
My first experience of Hostel life was when I was 18 years old; broke, wild, carefree and if I’m being really honest, I was only there for the parties. I was living my version of The American Dream and travelling my way from coast to coast in the US. Oh, how things have changed, myself including. Now, being in my Thirties and staying at a hostel I had a completely different attitude. Eighteen year old me would have been horrified and embarrassed by my now super chilled, tea drinking, day-trip loving Thirty year old me. I write this post from a more wise and mature version of me. I would describe hostels as either being your worst or best experience. Let me start off with the “Good” bits;
// One Love
This deserves to be proudly number one on the list! Hostels are a great way to encounter a wide number of Nationalities literally crammed in one place. I remember sitting together at a hostel in Prague and we counted the number of different countries we were made up. We were all blown away by the ease in which we all conversed and shared together. I have met some amazing people who have added value to my travel experiences. This is something you miss out on if you stay at a hotel or an Airbnb. As there’s constantly travellers moving in and out, the most common question you will hear and yourself too ask is “Where did you just come?” and “Where are you headed next?” It’s also the perfect icebreaker question. As you are all strangers to each other, your common interests are travelling, therefore friendships are made pretty easily. Even if they usually short-lived. Everyone has a story to tell. They are usually pretty interesting too.
// Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe
I found it pretty easy to distinguish between solo travellers and ones with friends. The solo travellers I came across were usually more open and chatty. Hostels are great because you can choose your interactions. You can spend the day on your own, or if you prefer, chances are there’s always someone wanting to explore the same sights as you. Evenings can be spent going for dinners together, or meeting up in the communal areas – You will find there’s always someone eager to hear about your day’s adventures. Important to note, everyone is on his or her own vibe, clinginess is considered weird.
// Never A Dull Moment
Most hostels organise free, or for a small fee, events or tours. These are fun if you aren’t looking for the formality of an organized tour and instead, looking to meet new people. Hostels come up with the most random and crazy events, some even have a weekly event schedule. I have had my fair share of enjoyable bbq’s, movie nights, pub crawls, theme parties and game nights. They can be lots of fun if this is your kind of thing. These activities are available to you, at no pressure.
// So Fresh & So Clean, Clean (Kind of)
Okay, this is both a positive and negative. Cleanliness is always everyone’s biggest concern. Most of the hostels I stayed at were clean, or at worse, bearable. I did my research, read reviews and looked closely at the cleanliness rating. If you a “wing it” kind of hostel-goer, then it’s like playing the lottery and being surprised you didn’t win. I stayed at many hostels that were cleaner than some Airbnb’s I have stayed at. Not all of them are bedbug-ridden, athlete foot causing, mould thriving holes, as many perceive them to be.
Now for the ‘Weird’ and ‘Awkward’ side of Hostels…
// What’s My Age Again?
This depends on person to person, but as this is my blog post, I am telling it how it is. Okay, back to Age-This, in the end, became the deal breaker for me. Firstly, important to note is that many hostels have age-restrictions. With that being said, I found staying as hostel being a Thirty-something-year-old woman, I never thought this would have been an issue for me. The last reference of hostel experiences I had to go on was when I was 18 years, so it should have been more obvious to me that most of the people I met were usually between 18-26 years old. I was almost always one of the oldest at any hostel. Yes, I agree age ain’t nothing but a number – I’m cool like that, but most of the people I encountered were looking to partying. Whilst I was up for the occasional wild and free night, it was however Not. Every. Single. Night. This definitely goes down to personal preference. With that being said, I made plenty of friends, with both guys and girls more than half my age and wouldn’t change a thing! There’s a level of maturity that’s either there or not. I did, however, mutter a few times humorously to myself, “maybe I’m just too old for this shit.”
// Sleep Like a Baby (HAHAHAHA!)
Unless you a super chilled, ‘you do you’ kind of person then all’s well in your hosteling world. I’m a light sleeper and well, simply had to get over myself, all for the sake of saving those precious euros. But know this; doors WILL be slammed; it’s only rare angels that close doors gently behind them. I am not even going to go there with the loud snoring. It’s unavoidable. You may get lucky, but I doubt it. It’s a particularly wild time when there’s a snoring mash up. Earplugs are your secret weapon and do offer some consolidation, but I found that after a while it felt like I was shoving overcooked macaroni in my ears. My trick – grab your headphones, put on your favourite nighttime playlist and your wakeups will be perkier. Getting through nights is a really great way of teaching you inner peace. Seriously. If you are able to get a private room, then it’s sweet dreams for you, my fellow traveller. You are already living the dream.
// Don’t Be Alarmed
Expect alarms going off loudly from 5 am right up until 8 am. My best was the array of melodies. Nothing is worse than someone who hits ‘snooze’ 6 times repeatedly. I remember, way too vividly, of a Star Wars alarm tone, which played repeatedly every 10 minutes for 2 hours. Worse yet, the person whose phone it belonged to was not even in the room. Everyone is on their own travel schedule; early risers, morning tours or checkouts – these are things to keep this mind. You never know what to expect on any given night. It’s a roller coaster of the unexpected. I sincerely ask anyone that has someplace to be at the crack of dawn, please be mindful of those around you.
// 3am Packing
This easily became my biggest and most hated thing. I can never, ever understand packing your entire suitcase and shuffling non-discreetly about at 3 am in the morning. I get it, you have a super early bus/train/plane to catch but why does it have to be everyone else in the room’s problem as well. Pack your crap the night before.
This list could go on and on, but really why bother – I think I covered the fundamentals. My biggest and brightest pearl of wisdom I pass onto you is to; read the reviews on your selected hostel. These are honest reviews that give you the best glimpse into what you can expect. Staying at hostels is a great way to travel, save money, and the best way to meet all kinds of weird and wonderful people. Remember to always keep an open mind, and to welcome all the craziness, overwhelming and exhilarating moments that travelling brings.
Trust me, everyone has a great hostel story in them.