Sunday, June 1, 2008

Seven tips for travelers staying in hostels

Planning a trip? Staying in hostels and guesthouses is generally a good idea: these are a lot less expensive than hotels, and the advantage they hold over camping sites is that the latter are usually pretty hard to come by in the center of a major city. Hostels simply rock, generally speaking – but some of 'em just don't rock as hard as other ones. As with most things in life (putting a man on the moon, fighting a grizzly bear, etc), preparation is everything. Here's a few tips to get you started.

Check the hostel beforehand

Don't rely on a raving review from 1994 (or even from 2004, for that matter) if you want to be sure the hostel you've got your eye on is any good. Hostels change management pretty often, so any place that was once widely praised could very well be pretty bad today. So, ask fellow travelers for tips, read more reviews than just one, check any available ratings and information about facilities and services. Google the name of the hostel, and use Google Blogsearch and Summize.com to find non-biased comments of actual living people giving their opinions on blogs and discussion boards. Don't forget to check the location: you want to make sure you'll be staying somewhere in the city center. Especially when the hostel is named after the city itself, i.e. 'Hostel Prague', chances are you'll need to take a 30 minutes bus drive before you get from the first half of the name to the second half.


Book your first night in advance

Even if you've read and heard everything there is to know about a hostel, there's always a chance that you don't like the place at all. If you book for only one night, it's not too hard to use the following day to find a place that better suits your needs. If you decide to stay at the same place, you could try to bargain for a better better deal. Don't use these tricks in high season though, or you'll risk not being able to find any affordable accommodation at all.

Check the times

Many hostels have strict rules regarding to times. Get a watch. Be a good boy (or girl) and try to obey them. You don't want to find a closed door after having traveled for thirty hours. Oh, and mind the curfew: there are actually still hostels out there that don't want you staying up too late. Another thing is lockout time: your room could be locked at certain hours when a cleaning lady wants some privacy while scrubbing your floor. Last but not least: mind the checkout time. If you're late, you might have to pay for another night...

Bring useful stuff

Most people pack too much useless stuff when visiting hostels. Be smart, and bring as less as possible. What you do need is a sleep-sheet (two sheets sewn together to form a sack), ear plugs against snoring and other noises, soap, a towel and a lock to keep your valuable stuff safe. Put it all in your backpack. No, a suitcase is not a backpack!

Don't like it? Just leave

If you have a sneaky suspicion, or you do not want to ho hand over your passport (don't), or anything happened you don't like, just leave. Even if you booked in advance, most hostel owners are very cooperative.

And the last one: have fun! And we shouldn't need to say it, but if you're looking for a hostel, don't forget to check out tfthostels.com ;-)

8 comments:

Craig said...

Linda and I just put together 10 tips for what to look what when booking online. It seems to add up to what you've put down, but any suggestions are welcome.

David hogard said...

Here is one very valuable travel tip to keep a lost or stolen wallet from bringing your vacation to an abrupt end. Many seasoned travelers pack an extra wallet in their suitcase or backpack. This wallet will contain only a credit card or two and perhaps an ATM card.



http://travels423.blogs.experienceproject.com/200715.html

David hogard said...

Here is one very valuable travel tip to keep a lost or stolen wallet from bringing your vacation to an abrupt end. Many seasoned travelers pack an extra wallet in their suitcase or backpack. This wallet will contain only a credit card or two and perhaps an ATM card.



http://travels423.blogs.experienceproject.com/200715.html

Albergue Da Juventude said...

If you go to a hostel, suppose to meet up new contacts and put on your best joyful face.

Pousadas Em Fortaleza said...

Hostels are normally a good place to make links and to meet tourists from far away places.

Pousada Ubatuba said...

A hostel with a broke status with safety measures is not a hostel which is going to last long and not a best place to stay.

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