I, Amy Baker, love a hostel. I’ve loved them since the day I walked into my first one in Ireland and saw they had a hostel cat, and a wide selection of free biscuits. My love grew as I stayed in them wherever I went, identifying them as a means to afford to visit all the places piling up on my list. I loved them more once I traveled solo and had to get over my fear of approaching groups of friends to ask if I could join them. And, the love was cemented when I worked at one, then two, then a third atop a mountain in Colombia where every single day meant interactions with new people, with stories, ideas, plans, and the wide grins of those who’ve been places, and understand how incredible the world is.
In my opinion people are too quick to turn up their noses and hotfoot it to a hotel at the first mention of shared toilets. Sure, if you’re one half of an amorous couple, a hotel affords you the kind of privacy a bunk bed and a cleverly placed towel does not – but what are you sacrificing by keeping yourself to yourself? You know so many hostels have private rooms and ensuite bathrooms too right?
I’m here to tell you what you’re missing out on. To relay exactly what it is that makes hostels so wonderful, and what, if you give them a chance, you’re likely to experience next time you’re in the market for an affordable place to lay your head.
Firstly, hostels are a safe haven…a friendly door in an unfamiliar city when you’re tired, hungry, and emotional. They are relaxed, inclusive, accepting, and non-judgmental. Inside, whether lounging in a hammock, sipping a beer at the bar, or reading on the bunk next to you, are lots of potential new mates. The only thing standing between you and a new buddy is the obligatory five-minute conversation about who you are, where you come from, where you’re going, and where you’ve been. Once that’s out of the way – it’s time to get to bonding.
It’s within hostels that you meet the people who end up shaping and making your trip. The people who’ll be grinning next to you in your photos, who’ll come up with ideas and suggestions that you know you have to make a reality, even if that does involve significantly changing your route (go on – change it! What’s the worst that could happen!?). Under hostel roofs, routes are plotted, inside info is shared, and lifelong friendships are secured. This is where romances blossom, where you laugh the hardest, where you party through the night with new friends from places you hadn’t really heard of. Maybe your paths will only cross for one night, maybe you’ll never see them again, or maybe, just maybe you’ll be in a hostel one day, missing PG Tips and your dog, and suddenly you’ll hear a familiar voice, and see a familiar face from months previously, and your home sickness will whizz out of the window.
Remember, the people you meet in hostels are your people! They’re just like you – hungry for experiences, human connections, and fun! Hostels house your tribe, and this tribe has your back. They want you to experience the unbelievable things that they’ve seen, they want to introduce you to people, places, music, books, films, everything that they know you’ll like. They’re a tribe that’ll humour even your wackiest suggestions. Hostels are where you might first voice tentative ideas about what you think you’d like to do now you know how much is out there, and how many possibilities you have available to you. Your tribe will listen, and understand your ambitions, and most importantly, they’ll encourage you to go after them.
Hostels aren’t all the same…there are so many that it’s possible to find one to match your mood and needs on any given day. There are hostels with double beds, power showers, movie rooms, FREE FOOD. There are hostels with cats, dogs, pigs, monkeys, climbing walls, skate ramps, 80s board games, the first reliable Internet connection in two weeks, functioning washing machines, SURF INSTRUCTORS.
The potential for excellence is right there beyond that friendly door I mentioned above…all you need to do now is walk on through it.