Nicole Brewer knows a thing or two about staying in hostels. She has trotted the globe as an expat for the past four years living and teaching in South Korea and Oman, and is currently a graduate student in Germany studying International Humanitarian Action. Check out her site I Luv 2 Globetrot to learn more about her and the I Luv 2 Globe Trot travel community on Facebook where various globe-trotters help on another sharing travel experiences. You can also either follow the Globe Trot page on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.
Have you ever toyed with the idea of not staying in a hostel or tried to book a cheap hotel over a hostel while planning your vacation? What about saying to yourself “hmm, I can’t do a hostel in China,” or X, Y, Z city? I’ve travelled pretty extensively through the years while teaching and living abroad and have met some of the most awesome people while I’ve trotted the globe, especially while staying in hostels.
I’ve also managed to learn quite a few things along the way from my experiences in fabulous (and not-so-fabulous) hostel stays. Here are just a few things I’ve learned about myself on hostel stays, what about you?
1. You don’t need 20 minutes to shower
So before hostel stays, I never really set time limits on myself in the shower. Let my mom tell it, I was actually pretty slow when getting ready in the morning. Well, after staying in quite a few hostels I’ve learned that it is not a necessity to take longer than 5-10 minutes (yes you can still get all of the necessary parts clean in that amount of time). Slow poke no more! My last visit home my mom was pleasantly surprised at how quick I’ve become.
2. You really are a “people person”
I’m a Gemini and many people would say that we are naturally outgoing individuals. Nevertheless, we like others have our moments where we just want to be to ourselves. Well, when you’re staying in an eight bunk-bed room, it’s not so easy to come back after a long trek up the Great Wall or tour and find your room to yourself.
Do you try to go hide out in the common area? No! You mingle, converse and make a few new friends along the way. The beauty of hostels is there are many amazing people usually at every turn. Go ahead, talk to a stranger, you’ll be happy you did.
3. You can be independent
There’s nothing like travelling solo in my book. I tend to stay in hostels on solo vacations because it’s the best way to make new friends. I recall on my European vacation last summer my first night checking into the Hostelle hostel for women in Amsterdam and feeling like “oh boy…why’d you come to Amsterdam of all places alone?”
Well, I had the most magnificent time! No sooner than ten minutes after checking in I met a cool girl from NYC and we hit the town. Flying solo to a hostel usually guarantees a great time as it opens you up to meet amazing people you wouldn’t if you were with a group of friends.
4. You know how to stretch a dollar (or euro, or dirham)
The typical hostel nowadays has a fully stocked kitchen, equipped with cutlery, pots and pans. Well I’ve learned how to stretch my dollars and euros by using them! As tempting as it may be to dine out at a nice Parisian restaurant and sip on a bottle of wine, why not do it at the hostel (with your new friends you’ve made).
As much as I loved traveling to London during the Olympics last summer, it was not particularly cheap to get there so I had to stretch my euros. Go ahead, cook some pasta at the hostel and then go for a nice long walk. That’s called budgeting ;-).
5. It’s ok to slow down and just enjoy the moment
There’s nothing like a getaway from the daily rat race to help you enjoy the simple things in life. I’ve stayed at hostels that are equipped with everything from pool tables, to swimming pools and libraries. Once at a gorgeous hostel in Australia’s surfers’ paradise in Gold Coast, I had a full day of trying to squeeze in all of the sites and of course a little beach time.
I was absolutely exhausted by 6pm and walked back to the hostel. After spending a little time debating “should I go out, should I stay at the hostel,” I opted to chill in the lounge overlooking the ocean for a bit and read a good book. The simple things, yeah that’s the good life.
6. You can sleep through just about anything
So I’ve always been lucky to be a heavy sleeper. Nevertheless, nothing tests the theory of being able to sleep through most things like staying in a hostel. Ever slept through a fire alarm going off due to smoke detectors? No, well I have…after a girl not so verse at cooking set one off at a hostel while cooking in the kitchen. Luckily for us it wasn’t serious and the nice girls in the room woke me up.
Staying in a hostel has its ups and downs but trust me the ups outweigh the downs. From meeting amazing travellers with fun-filled stories and life experiences to learning lessons about yourself, you should for sure choose a hostel accommodation when the opportunity presents itself to grow into a well travelled and rounded individual.
What have you learned about yourself from staying in hostels? Tell us in the comments...