Can you REALLY Save Money by Staying in a Hostel?
If you’re on a tight budget and want to try something different, consider a hostelling getaway. Nowadays many older adults are joining the ranks of students and backpackers who stay in hostels all over the world.
There are some important details to consider, however.
Although the quality and comfort varies widely from hostel to hostel, you can expect rather sparse accommodations compared to an inn or hotel. You will probably be sharing sleeping quarters with several people, usually of the same gender. Private bathrooms are rare. You may have to walk down a hall to reach the bathroom - which may have only a toilet.
You may be required to provide your own bedding and towels. Sometimes linen is included in the nightly rate. Other times it will be provided for an extra charge. Laundry facilities may be available - usually coin-operated.
Sometimes breakfast will be included with your hostel package. Some hostels have kitchens where guests can prepare simple meals.
You may be fortunate enough to locate accommodations with free amenities such as:
* Complimentary in-city shuttle service
* Airport/rail terminal pickup
* Common area with satellite or cable TV
* DVD library
* Internet access and/or guest computer
* Safety deposit boxes
* Guided tours
* Access doors with computer-coded key cards
Some lodgings require an advance deposit via credit card. However, the balance of your stay and any extra charges may be payable in cash. If you object to carrying cash, make sure that you have a recognized ATM card. You will get the most favorable exchange rates from ATM machines, with no extra commission charges.
Always reserve a room ahead of time. Do not expect to find a last-minute vacancy, no matter how many times you have stayed at your favorite hostel.
Before you charge the room deposit to your credit card do some research!
* Are there guest reviews available online?
* Does the hostel impose a 'locked door' curfew?
* Do they have maid service?
* How often are rooms cleaned?
* What is the policy for early check-out?
* Does the hostel belong to an organization like Hostelling International?
* Will you be required to leave your passport at the front desk?
* What is the ‘lights out’ policy?
* Is there a 24-hour staff member on premises?
* Is the hostel near downtown and tourist attractions?
* How close are public transit and police facilities?
* Is there a medical clinic in the neighborhood?
* Can you purchase groceries nearby?
Always be prepared for emergencies. That means having some extra cash in reserve for unexpected contingencies. Photocopy your important documents before you leave - and make sure that the copies are accessible if you need them.
Somebody back home should have a copy of your itinerary, especially if you are making a trip abroad. If possible, establish some ‘checkpoint times’ where you can call home to let everyone know where (and how) you are. Leaving a message via e-mail is also an excellent option.
Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance. Does it cover hospital expenses and transport in case of serious injury?
There a few more hostelling tips at http://www.triple1.com/Articles/2006-04/more3.html and http://www.triple1.com/hostels/tips.htm. Please be sure to check them out when you have a few minutes.
If you like meeting people, and you’re not afraid of a little adventure, hostelling can be a great getaway.
About the Author: Kathy Steinemann is a Canadian who writes for 111 Travel Directory and Adult Escapes, in addition to 1000 Tips 4 Trips and other travel-related websites.