I was standing in a hostel for just five minutes before I made my first friend.
“Meet Izzy!” the hostel receptionist said in a heavy Italian accent. “She’s also from the US! You two should go grab a drink together in the bar. On us of course!”
After giving us our rooms keys and two drink coupons, he pointed us towards the bar in the next room. With cold beers in our hands, Izzy and I started chatting about what brought us to Ostello Bello Grande in Milan.
And it wasn’t long before we were joined by three other guests who recently arrived. There was Sebastian from Munich, Germany; Bruna from São Paolo, Brazil and Tony from Manchester, U.K.
Little did I know at the time that these four strangers would soon become my best travel buddies. We spent the next three days roaming the streets of Milan, indulging in fried pizza and drinking wine late into the evening—essentially, all of my favorite things to do while traveling!
Several weeks later, Sebastian invited us to visit him in Munich. After showing us around, I simply fell in love with the city’s culture and charm. So much, in fact, that I decided to move to Munich six months later.
These unforgettable experiences and lifelong friendships are, ultimately, what traveling is all about. And it’s all thanks to amazing hostels—bookable on Hostelworld—that these connections are possible.
Hostels Break Down Global Barriers and Facilitate Worldwide Connection
Hostels bring people from all walks of life together—people with inimitable backgrounds and diverse cultures, who’ve grown up speaking different languages, eating different foods, observing different faiths, participating in different cultural practices.
They break down our global barriers since, suddenly, we all call the same place home. And we all experience life—and we explore the world—together, even if only for a few days. It’s inevitable that you’ll shatter any preconceived notions as you teach and learn from one another. Not only will you go about exploring the culture you’re in, but you’ll also explore each other’s cultures when you’re in conversations about your childhoods and sharing recipes with each other in the hostel kitchen.
Ultimately, through hostels, you’ll find that people around the world have a lot more similarities than differences.
A Hostel Is Not Just a Place to Sleep
Hostels are more than just a place to sleep during your trip. A hostel is a community, and it’s a way to create memorable experiences during your travels.
That said, generally speaking, a hostel is a form of accommodation that’s centered around shared social experiences. Hostels are made up of several rooms, usually both dorm-style rooms and private rooms. The dorms may come with anything from four, six, eight beds or more! I’ve seen some with up to 30 rooms.
What makes hostels different from hotels is mostly the social atmosphere. There’s almost always a common space, sometimes a bar and/or rooftop and usually a bulletin board of activities for the week ahead.
Whether you’re sharing a bunk bed, sharing a bottle of wine at the hostel bar or sharing a two-person bicycle on the group cycling tour of the city, hostels allow you to meet new people and embark on new adventures.
And, most of the time, staying in a hostel is much more affordable than staying in a hotel! Some hostel dorm rooms in Asia, for example, cost as little as two bucks a night. In more expensive regions of the world like Europe, you’re probably looking at closer to 30 to 60 euros a night, but this is still only a fraction of the cost of most hotels.
Of course, the price of the hostel also depends on what’s included (many have free WiFi, breakfast, bike rentals, tours, laundry services, etc.!). It’ll also depend on the type of hostel you book.
I love that each hostel has its own unique personality. Besides the traditional youth hostel, you can find many different and quirky hostels popping up around the world.
- There are boutique hostels with designer furnishings, swanky common spaces and bars.
- Or you have eco-hostels that are focused on activities like surfing, snowboarding or hiking. Many of these types of hostels work with local companies to bring travelers inimitable, enriching experiences that benefit the local community, too.
- If you’re looking for that cozy, home-away-from-home feeling, some hostels are run by families out of their own homes. Sometimes, they’ll offer language exchanges and home-cooked meals.
- You also have your boisterous party hostels. As you can probably guess, party hostels are the epitome of fun; they revolve around drinking games, loud music and long nights of dancing.
So, as you can see, there are different types of hostels for different kinds of travelers. You just have to find the right one that fits your travel style.
Hostels Aren’t Only for Budget Backpackers
Despite their reputation, hostels aren’t just for young partiers or backpackers. During my eight months of traveling solo through Europe, I met many different types of people by staying in hostels. There were solo female travelers, couples and groups of friends (sometimes friends who’d just met!) of all ages. There were stockbrokers, musicians, students, writers, designers, lawyers and everything in between.
And speaking of solo traveling, hostels are the ideal place to meet other like-minded people. If you stay in a shared dorm, you’ll probably meet tons of travelers, even on your first night!
But even if you choose to book a private hostel room, there are still plenty of other ways to meet new friends. Most hostels offer daily activities to their guests, like walking tours, pub crawls and family dinners.
Hostels Offer More Than a Bunch of Beds
Just like my hostel experience in Milan, your time in a hostel will depend on what you do and who you meet. However, there are some cool facilities and features that hostels provide to make sure that your stay is memorable.
Most hostels offer some sort of shared, common space where you can relax or mingle with other guests. Enjoy the views from the private rooftop terrace at the ultra-chic Generator in Paris or a dip in the beachfront pool at the Selina Playa Venao in Panama. Or simply read a book in the on-site library at ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam.
Like I mentioned, another great benefit to staying in a hostel is the variety of activities. I’ve been on guided bike tours, I’ve attended board game nights and I’ve danced the night away at concerts that the hostel bussed us all to. It’s these activities that will turn your trip into an action-packed adventure!
An on-site bar or restaurant is also an essential factor in making new friends in a hostel. There’s something about strong cocktails and delicious food that make meeting new people a whole lot easier.
And if you thought that hostels couldn’t get any better, what if I told you that you could eat for free? That’s right, many hostels now provide free meals to guests, which is great for your wallet and your belly.
During my stay at Otello Bello Grande, for example, I hardly left the hostel to eat. Sebastian, Izzy, Bruna, Tony and I would meet for breakfast in the morning and eat the free buffet dinner at night. And after a night of drinking, we’d return back to the hostel and cook pasta in the shared kitchen.
You Can Book Your Perfect Hostel Before You Even Arrive
It’s true, the world is filled with some pretty amazing hostels. So, if you’re planning a trip and want to meet new friends and save a bit of money, there’s only one place to book a hostel. And that’s on Hostelworld.
As, perhaps, the most extensive hostel booking site in the industry, Hostelworld connects travelers with their dream hostel in over 180 countries. You can filter listings down to price, room type and facilities (think: WiFi, breakfast, laundry, luggage storage, air conditioning, parking etc.) in order to find the ideal hostel for your trip.
But most importantly, Hostelworld has in-depth and honest reviews from real travelers like you and me. Each hostel receives a rating based on value, location, security, cleanliness and, of course, atmosphere. You can also see how many people from different countries are going to be there during your stay, too. So you know exactly what to expect before you arrive.
Once you find your favorite hostel, you can book instantly through their app or website. You only have to pay the deposit online, and you can pay the rest once you arrive. Don’t worry, you can search in your home currency to make the transaction easier!
Traveling is about opening your eyes to new cultures, new adventures and most importantly, new people. And, in my opinion, the most memorable trips are the ones that you get to share with others.
Even if you’re on a solo trip through Europe or backpacking through Thailand, there’s no reason you can’t meet new friends along the way. By staying in a hostel, you can meet fellow travelers from all parts of the world.
So next time you’re in a hostel, make sure to smile and say hi to your neighbor! You never know if they could be your next drinking buddy, travel companion or even your best friend!
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