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Hostel Life: Tips for Hostel Virgins

Are you a hostel virgin and scared to bust out of your shell to “slum” it with other travelers?  I was- but am proud to say I am far from it now.  Similar to traveling internationally for the first time like I talked about in my blog, “Tips for International Travel Virgins,” I feel that it’s important to help out those that are virgins to the whole hostel scene and “backpacking.”  I can say up until this past trip in Australia I was a hostel virgin and had honestly never even shared a room with a stranger in my life.  When living or staying in a hostel, you get over this issue very quickly- you really don’t have an option.  In my past 4 months in Australia I spent about half of it either living in a hostel week-to-week or traveling and staying in various hostels down the coast.  Although I can’t say I would love to go back and do it again, I can say that it was a lot of fun and an experience I will never forget.

Koala's Hostel

Koala's in Cairns- my home for a month! :/

What to Expect

Basically hostels are as plain jane as accommodation comes, but with a price that reflects this from $10-$35 a night.  You can expect basic bunk beds with your standard sheets and a pillow, a common area, and a common kitchen.  When booking a hostel there are a few things you need to consider regarding what type of room you choose.  Hostel rooms aka dorms generally sleep anywhere from 4-10 people in a room, but private rooms are usually also available at a higher price.  The dorms either have bathrooms attached, which is called “ensuite” and I think is key– or bathrooms down the hall.  An option for ladies that don’t feel comfortable with random boys in your room or want a more low-key experience without the chaos and mess that guys bring, most hostels offer girl only dorms for a few dollars more and can be worth the investment.  While traveling the coast my friend actually got all her stuff pissed on by a guy in our hostel when he came home drunk one night- so ya those things do happen, but hey it could have just as easily been a girl.  More important factors for me were having air-conditioning in the rooms, internet access, proximity to the cities I was visiting, and the cleanliness of the hostel.  A lot of hostels in Australia have issues with bed bugs and this is definitely something you want to check out prior to booking.  Also you will find that many hostels have their own bars on site, which is nice but be careful about sneaking in your own booze- as they may try and confiscate it.

A great site to check out different options for various cities and reviews about hostels is Hostel World.  Also Trip Advisor has reviews on most hostels and is usually a good source.

Base Hostel on Magnetic Island

Base Hostel on Magnetic Island- in an all girls suite! Much cleaner!

Safety

Also a lot of people, as I was, are concerned about safety of themselves and their belongings while staying in rooms with strangers.  Honestly I never had an issue or knew anyone that did but you should be careful.  Don’t leave electronics or valuables out obviously, and keep your bags closed up while not in the room.  All hostels should allow you to check your valuables ie passport, extra cash, credit cards, laptop, etc. at the front desk so you don’t have to worry about having any issues.  Just be smart about it and if you don’t feel comfortable about the room you were put in, ask to be switched.

Experience

The main reason why I would recommend staying in hostels, minus saving tons of money, is the experience it brings.  For myself, the experience of getting over sharing a room and a bathroom with complete strangers definitely was an adventure that changed me and I love that.  Also the random people that you meet at each hostel is amazing- well usually.  I still keep in touch with tons of people that I met and partied with in my hostels all the way down the East Coast of Australia.  I feel that after I first lived in a hostel for 5 weeks in Cairns and then stayed in various ones down the coast for another 3 weeks my maintenance level has definitely gone down and that’s a good thing. 😉 You have to learn to get the most out of situations that aren’t exactly ideal.  Of course I would have rather stayed in a gorgeous hotel with my own room and bath, but would I have all these crazy hostel stories to tell down the road?  Hell no.  I will never forget the stories or the crazy people that go with them, and for that I love that I’m no longer a hostel virgin! :)

Koala's hostel crew

Great group @ Koala's Cairns - French, Japanese, Americans, and English all love to party!

Noosa Nomad's Hostel

Just some drinking games with some new friends @ Nomads in Noosa!

Hope this entry helped ease some nerves of you hostel virgins out there and provided you with some helpful information.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns about your upcoming travels! :)

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