As a single traveler, who has a passion for staying in a hostel I decided to write this guide to stay in hostels for those, who are still not so sure how to choose the right hostel for themselves, what to take into consideration, and what to take with you to have calm nights even in a crowded dorm!
First of all, I would touch the solo traveling topic – it is not for everyone – so if you are not comfortable with the idea that you travel alone, don‘t do that – it would cause you probably won‘t enjoy the trip and do feel alone during the whole stay. Of course, some of you, with the adventure soul, could simply jump into it as I did and wait for what comes, but some people simply would not be happy to travel anywhere alone, and it is all right. We all are unique and have different needs.
Reason for traveling alone could be several: different traveling ideas among your friends and family e.g. your partner want to stay ten days on a beach, but your nature is not “on a beach laying” and you simply want more adventurous or active holiday or, if you are like me after some solo traveling experience you find out it is easier sometimes not to look at other people needs and simply do what you want to do by yourselves.
This could sound selfish, but I believe this option is really better than staying at home and waiting for another person with the same taste for same countries and type of holiday – I assure you, if I won‘t start travel alone, I would not visit most of the places I have already been to – especially Scandinavian countries.
The funny thing on solo traveling could be that when you are comfortable with traveling solo, it sometimes happens that you are not alone at all – e.g. I went to Amsterdam for just 1 day trip with a bus company and next to me was another solo traveler – a girl, in same age as I did – she did not stop talking whole night and I have almost spent the whole day in Amsterdam with her (she was there already so it would be quite comfortable and she did not mind).
Or, during traveling to Milan and visiting Ostello Bello Grande – I had so great roommates that after spending whole day in the city, I did not feel alone at all as in the evening we have spent a nice time chatting (the same happened to me in Stockholm) – you would be maybe very surprised how many people traveling solo, how many people are very polite, nice and kind to you and could help you get over the “alone feeling” in the foreign country – because we are all on the same page, aren‘t we?
Whether you travel with your friends or alone and decided to find some fancy hostel you would stay in during your trip, I would recommend some rules you should follow – those rules came from my experience from several hostels within Europe. First of all – don‘t be afraid of staying in a hostel as it is not a big deal – hostels, especially in Europe, become very popular by a lot of travelers due to they are often very modern and you can sometimes feel like in a four-star hotel – but for a fraction of the price!
In most of the European cities are a different kind of hostels – in different style, in a different size, with a different offer of rooms and dorms (mixed or just for female, which is a plus, especially for solo female travelers), on a different place within the city. The booking site is much up to what you prefer – for me it is the best site Booking.com or Hostelworld.com – the offering of the hostel is there very broad and you could be sure most of the properties are on those sites with a lot of former visitors reviews.
Some hostels could offer little different services, but most of them already offer: free Wi-fi, linen, and towels in price so you don‘t need to take yours, luggage storage. Most of the hostels have bars or cafés during the day and night available or having a vending machine so you don‘t need to die on hunger when you are lazy to go anywhere for food. Also, most of the hostels offering nowadays an equipped kitchen, so you can even cook from the bought ingredients and spend some cozy time with other cookers:), and maybe taste their food as well (but only after their permission:)).
As an extra service of the hostels could be laundry services (for longer trips could be this service really great), laptops to be borrowed – saving a lot of luggage space, I assure you. Walking tours, breakfast, and dinner for free or some reasonable fee, private bathrooms even in dorms, free welcome drink (what a nice plus) and a lot of other specialties, which could make your stay really unforgettable!
Dorms – rooms with bunk beds (often) and very often also shared bathrooms (but this is not a rule, some could have private bathrooms). Most of the hostels offer private double rooms, triple rooms or family rooms – suitable for families, couples. Here I advise one important thing if you want to have a rest during the night – always look at the facilities of the hostel, where there is some night club or noisy bar as a part of the hostel and if so, take the earplugs and ask for higher floor room/dorm – so you can sleep (this is not valid for a person, who enjoying partying whole night, of course).
From the point of sleeping and privacy – nowadays it is a standard that each bed has a reading lamp, socket, shelf and luggage locker (especially in dorms). If you are female and like to travel alone, there are also female dorms offered very often. The purpose is obvious and let‘s be honest, we – women – like our privacy without the need of hearing snored backpackers:).
Finally, let‘s look at what to take with you to when staying in a hostel – earplugs (I highly recommend this), towel (when are not included in the price or for rent for a reasonable price), sleeping mask (especially in dorms with a lot of bed could be a light switching during night very annoying), for those who socialize more than others – condoms (yes, I mean it!) and mobile charger, but this is valid for any traveling these days (just, when you forget it at home, you will rely on others to use theirs, which could not be easy and comfy).