For many backpackers, the hostel will be the solution to a lengthy and enjoyable travelling experience but with so many horror stories out there, how can you be sure to pick the right one?

The key is in the research! There are many hostels out there and fortunately the plethora of review sites make it easy to avoid the horror stories! With the number of hostels ever increasing and competition for cheap accommodation on the rise, there is now more choice than ever.  Finding the right one and paying the right price is important.

When is the best time to book?

If you are not specific about the exact place you want to stay, there is little point in booking in advance.  With many hostels in most major cities and locations, there is usually a lot of choice and availability.  That being said, sometimes it is wise to book in advance especially when there is an event or festivals.  It’s worth researching this in advance as there would be nothing worse than having no choice of where to stay.  Personally, our plan is to always book the first few days accommodation in advance before we arrive at our destination, purely for peace of mind and to allow us to get our bearings before deciding where the best location is for us to stay.

Where to book?

The obvious place to look is Hostelworld however from doing research, don’t ignore the normal holiday websites.  When we were searching for a place to stay in Sydney, we found a hostel on Hostelworld for £854.  Expedia had a deal with buy 5 nights and get 2 free and the total price came in at £554 for exactly the same place.  The biggest lesson for us to is always spend the extra 5 minutes searching elsewhere on the internet to get the best deal.

What to look for?

For each traveller this will be different.  I think everyone wants a clean bed, clean surroundings and bathroom facilities.  We always look for a hostel with a kitchen (not so much so in Asia as the cost to eat out is just as cheap), free wifi (or wifi near by that is free) and in a good location.  It is important to work out what you will be using the hostel for as this will also determine the kind of hostel you are looking for i.e. if you want a base for work then you are more likely going to want a quiet hostel close to transport, if you are needing a hostel as a party base then a party hostel may be the better solution.  There is nothing worse than coming in at 4am after a night out to a plethora of unhappy faces who have to be up in a few hours and lets face it, they aren’t going to be quiet getting up if you have just woken them all up!!

I touched on location in our criteria and this is key.  The amount of times in the beginning we chose somewhere because it was a few pound cheaper than another only to find we spent the savings and more in transport getting where we needed to go.  Being central is good but again be mindful of what else is close by.  If you’re central for work, you don’t want to be next to a night market, a night club or anything loud to be fair.  If it’s partying you are looking for, this would work well for you!

Something else to look for in a hostel is where you can store your stuff!  If it doesn’t have lockers and you are in a mixed dorm, this is going to cause you issues.  No one likes to think anyone would take your stuff but the fact remains that people do.  If the hostel itself isn’t that security conscious, this massively increases the risk.  It may not be the friendly backpackers with you, but someone from the outside who knows how easy it is to get their hands on your stuff.  On a side note, make sure your valuables are insured without crazy excess fees as the longer you travel, the greater the risk is of loss or damage just through pure probability.

The other point for consideration is the communal space.  If you are travelling alone or wanting to make friends, having a great communal space is a great way of meeting people.  Most hostels have a good lounge space and these can also come with great options for entertainment with movies, games etc.

There is one other thing for consideration, don’t limit yourself to hostels.  As there are two of us, we managed to get a private floor in someone’s town house for the same price as a hostel.  This means no sharing facilities, no need to lock our stuff away and peace and quiet.  We booked through AirBnb which is worldwide as I am sure you know.  That being said, it doesn’t have the same opportunities to meet new people as a hostel but a blend of both will work for us to tick all of our boxes.

If you are thinking of booking somewhere to stay via AirBnb, use our referral link and get yourself £25 off your first booking – www.airbnb.co.uk/c/kieronw98

If you have any tips or questions, please let us know by adding a comment.

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