Hostels get a lot of bad press from people telling each other their horror stories. As an avid traveller I have found myself experiencing some horrible situations in hostels. But the good experiences out weigh the bad. I think I have been on one trip in my life which has not involved hostels and only hotels. There are many pros and cons with both hotels and hostels.
The pros with hotels include having a lot of privacy, full breakfast and a space to relax and enjoy yourself. The rooms themselves have a lot more security than at hostels without the complex of people walking in and out constantly. But hotels are incredibly expensive and considering you might only be there for about ten hours a day of the trip.
The hostels can have incredible locations with great prices. Some of the prices can be as low as a few pounds a night. If you do plenty of research before hand you can ensure that they are very clean, in a safe location and have security. Another aspect to look at is number of people per room, food availability, lockers and the bathroom situation. The most important aspect to check for is whether there have been any instances of bed bugs! BELIEVE ME CHECK.
At some point there must be a point when travellers outgrow the shared accommodation and prefer the privacy and comfort of the hotel room. Hostels are not suited to all. I have been asked have I ever thought I was going to be murdered or my stuff stolen. I have actually had to break into my own locker after losing the key and I have never had anything stolen. I’m not afraid to tell people to shut up either.
There are a few things which I always bring with me to a hostel no matter how good the reviews are. Lock so I can shut my stuff away. Ear plugs so that I can shut out people getting up between 6am and 11am and getting in at all hours of the night. I’ve got to admit I am normally last in and last out but I am very quiet and considerate. Never turn the light on after 11pm. Mosquito net for the summer and always check the bed for bed bugs. I keep valuables in a small bed that I keep at my head. Also, medication because you never know when a hangover can hit.
However, if you have not experienced hostels properly then you can never really understand the beauty a hostel can offer. The shared rooms can allow you to meet a whole range of different people from different backgrounds. If you are a lone traveller that means that you can find friends to go and enjoy the sites with. You might be able to make life long friends and visit other places for a lot less money. Some travellers just want to get drunk in a new place and hostels are perfect.
Hostels also provide bars, food and activities which can let you bond and have a great laugh which might not be available in hotels. IF you need some down time then there’s nothing better than having a beer and playing giant Jenga. Some hostels even have their own beach, wildlife and pools so staying in all day for an all included price. Hostels sometimes provide a work stay programme where you can stay for free for contributing a little to the running of the hostel or do some conservation work.
Hostels also have facilities to let you cook for yourself and save money in the long term and have more money for activities and experiences. In the long run you can save a lot of money and spend more time out of the hostel. Often there are free tours, pub crawls and discounts which can be organised and booked straight from the reception.
So, when do you think you are too old to uses hostels? I don’t think there is a precise age where you grow out of hostels. If you still get more joy from the experience than you do with it then it might be time to move on. If you have a lot of affordable income and want the type of trip where you chill at a resort and only visit expensive places then hostels aren’t for you. But if you still find the joy in meeting other people and traveling on a budget with the minor hassle of sharing a room with noisy roommates then keep going for as long as you want. I am going to be going for a long time!