OK, so you’ll probably know that I’m more of a hostel style backpacker than a posh hotel lad. It’s just the lifestyle of it all that I love. Meeting people in hostels, cheap tours, new friends, cold showers, no privacy etc. I still love the buzz of hostels! So apologies to my readers who stay in hotels, campsites, B and Bs and house sitters, for today on Tuesday’s Travel Essentials I’m talking hostels. Here are my 5 tips on booking hostels on my travels.
1. Friends Recommendations
This is number one. Your mates know what they’re talking about. Listen to them. They’ll tell you about cool hostels they stayed in, the prices, the activities etc. Trust your mates and always ask mates about where they stayed in “City A” before you visit. Same goes vice versa I always recommend hostels to my mates. Through friends I’ve been recommended Swaziland Backpackers, Pariwana in Cuzco and Hostelling International in Tailuga.
2. People You Meet in other Hostels Recommendations
This is another key point to bear in mind. On your journey you’ll be heading to a city someone in your hostel has just come from. Ask them where they stayed there and if it was any good. Quite often they’ll share their hostel stories with you, without prompt. I use this tactic a lot, and again vice versa. A Colombian guy I met in Buenos Aires recommended the Black Cat in Asuncion, so I booked it. I trusted him and he was spot on.
3. Hostels that have their own website
I like hostels that have their own website, like Soweto Backpackers, Abraham Hostel and Masada Backpackers in Malaysia. The reason is you can email them beforehand, bond with them, don’t have to pay a deposit or a fee and can also see photos directly on their site. Facebook pages are also great to check out hostels on. Websites also have personality and I often choose hostels based on personality and even name. A hostel with a funky name (such as the Pickled Frog in Hobart) always stand out and normally are great places to meet people!
4. Use Hostelbookers
People often ask me to toss things up between Hostelbookers and Hostel world, so here’s my take on it. Until either of them provide me with endless free hostels, I’ll tell you that I normally use Hostelbookers when torn between the two. The very first time I booked with them was one of their New York city hostel way back in 2007 (I stayed there for a week). Brand loyalty continued with me on that front. And besides they’ve just launched a Untied Sharing Hostels Tour which covers the USA, I think it’s a pretty cool tool to use if you’re heading stateside, which I will be again in the next 2 years for sure. Though as I mentioned, hostels with their own website are my preference.
5. Don’t Be Lonely in This Planet
Yes, I use the Lonely Planet. If all else fails, whip out your book and choose one that’s in there. Given the reviewers might have got free rooms and even been paid to include them, but at least they have addresses, phone numbers and e-mails which makes booking them easy.
There are a few other options not covered in this post, and I use other methods too, so there may be a sequel for you to this post. For the meantime, I’m hostel loyal. I find hotels have a little less soul…
With my endless travel tips and stories, I want to inspire you all to head out there and see the world! Check my advertising page if you have an idea for a product for my Tuesday’s Travel Essentials, and don’t forget I welcome free beers and nights in hostel on the house…