Hostels have a notoriously poor reputation. Blame it on the whole “living with strangers” idea, or the blockbuster horror film of the same name, but hostels do not bring forth pleasant images in the minds of those who have never slept in a 16 bunk-bed dorm room. Hostels, or youth hostels, are a college-students’ ideal for traveling virtually anywhere on a low budget: from New York to Vietnam to Spain. Here, a few hostel myths are deconstructed.
Myth 1: …but only murderers and granolas stay in hostels!
The idea of communal living overseas certainly sparks a notion of dread-locks, drugs and sex. While yes, these pertain to a hostel’s atmosphere, the majority of travelers are, for better use of the term, normal. No (known) history of violence, no sermons about veganism or communism (sounds like campus). Instead, hostel goers are stereotyped by alcohol, sleep-ins, photographs and tans. Hostel common rooms buzz with the chatter of college and college-age students, exchanging romanticized travel stories. You find yourself bonding with anyone and everyone, from the young Chilean man traveling alone to the party of four pretty Québécois girls who have come for the nightclubs and the beaches. More importantly, with effort and Skype, these connections can last long after you’ve returned home.
Myth 2: …but hostels are filthy and I’ll get lice!
If you’ve lived in rez, you understand that cleanliness is relative in public housing. Looking and being clean are two very separate details. In any case, this myth is probably part of the notion that many bodily fluids are exchanged on hostel grounds, and that other hostel-goers are of a distinct breed, kind of like rez and college kids. In truth, the cleanliness of hostels can vary. As a rule of thumb, popular hostels that take in large numbers of travelers are clean (looking, that is). It is still important to wear flip-flops in the shower, but there is no need to worry about where your pillow-sheet has been. Smaller hostels are on less stable grounds, as they may or may not be as clean as larger ones. Basically, don’t be surprised to wake up in the morning only to discover that bed bugs have marked their territory on your thighs. It happens.
If you’re unsure about where to stay while abroad, an amazing website is http://www.hostelworld.com. Users provide detailed reviews (some good, some bad) about hostels all over the world. Those that receive positive reviews tend to be at the top of the webpage, which means they are safest to book.
STATUS: DE-MYTHED…SORT OF
Myth 3: …but I’ll lose my passport and my identity!
Many hostels offer lockers large enough to fit your luggage. You may have to pay for the lock, but it is the best option to protect your passport, wallet and camera. If they don’t have lockers, you can usually ask reception for a safe to store your valuables. The downside is that your luggage will be available for public access, but most travelers aren’t very interested in stealing your shampoo/college tee. Don’t make yourself at home too much though; leaving valuables sprawled across your bed offers easy access to thieves.
Moral of the story is hostels are safe and (seemingly) clean! … and that having low expectations for hostels can almost always prevent disappointment (just…kidding?)
great link: http://www.hostelworld.com
Exams are looming, which means summer is around the corner. And with summer comes travels.
I spent part of last summer traveling through Italy & Spain. From the food to the arts to the people to the fire-breathing tranny Wolverine, I was hooked. I never wanted to leave. I started thinking in a foreign language (at least after some 5 euro sangria, that is). But before I knew it, I was crossing the Atlantic, Barcelona side-streets a distant memory.
Since my return, I have spent countless hours searching flights, jobs, and hostels – anything to get me back to Europe. In fact, most of this research has been done during Psych lectures, where I pretend to viciously take notes on Pavlov’s dog when I am actually taking down cheap flight details. The moral of this story is that I am currently in University. And while passport plans fill most of my spare time, the reality is that I am bound to my lectures during the semester.
I started this blog because I wanted a travel resource specifically for college students. Like many college students with a passion for traveling, school, friends, and finances can sometimes get in the way. In Between Lectures is a website to check during courses to plan your off-campus days.