Hostels are great ways to save money while traveling, but let’s be honest, it’s not for everyone. Shared quarters, out-of-the-way locations and noisy neighbors are but some of the reasons some people don’t like to stay at them.
That said, here are the five reasons you shouldn’t consider a stay in a hostel:
- Lack of Privacy – The rates may be cheap, but that’s because sleeping arrangements are generally four or more beds to a room. And unless you’re traveling with enough people to rent out an entire room, your roommates will be complete strangers. Not to mention while some hostels may have rooms with a private bathroom, the majority of hostels have shared bathing facilities a la college dorms. Yes, they do have individual curtained stalls, but there’s generally only that piece of fabric between you and everyone else as you shower naked. A lot of travelers may find that very uncomfortable.
- Noise Levels and Other Personal Habits – As one can expect from sharing with strangers, everyone has a different idea of proper noise levels and it can get quite loud, especially once the local bars close and other travelers return to the hostel – sometimes with additional people they’ve just met for the evening (if you know what I mean). Additionally, the people you end up sharing a room with may be smokers or indulge in other behaviors that you don’t condone. There’s no guarantee your roommates won’t have habits or lifestyles you disagree with.
- The Safety of Your Belongings – Most hostels do offer in-room lockers to stow personal belongings while staying there, but there’s a big difference between a school-type locker and an in-room safe. If you have to travel with the latest tech gadgets or a lot of valuables, and don’t want to carry them around at all times, then you take your chances with the lockers. That’s not to say fellow hostelers are thieves, but let’s face it, there are people out there who will grab any opportunity presented.
- Providing Your Own Basics – Even the most bargain of hotels and motels provide clean linens and toiletries. Hostels usually don’t, and if they do, they usually charge you for them either in deposits (towels, sheets and the like) or for outright purchase. Generally the price of a hostel stay only covers a bed and a locker (sans lock, which you will also have to provide or rent). But that’s why the rates are so low.
- Location – Many hostels are off-the-beaten-track in converted old buildings or far enough from major attractions that it takes serious planning to get around. Additionally, some can be in less-than-safe areas of town, since rents for the buildings are cheaper. If you need to be in the heart of everything or don’t want to chance accommodations that may be in a seedy area, hosteling isn’t for you.
A lot of travelers are fine with staying in hostels and find the above just to be things they can live with to get the lower room rates. In fact, I have friends who would rather stay in a hostel above any other kind of lodging. But if anything on the list makes you uncomfortable, it may be worth the extra money to find a motel or hotel to stay at instead.
Have you stayed in a hostel and not liked it? Let us know why in the comments.
[photo courtesy of Advantage Hostel Prague]