When I first started traveling without my family hostels really were my only choice of accommodation. They were obviously the cheapest option to spend some nights in whatever city I was visiting and since going on city breaks usually meant spending a significant part of my time there going out and returning home late, I had to make sure to stay in an environment where people wouldn’t complain about noise at 1 am. Well, things have changed. After I started a proper job I found myself actually wanting to go to bed before 3 am some nights (yes, I admit, I’ve become a boring adult). Furthermore, working actually had a positive impact on my bank account, allowing me to stay at other places, like Air BnB apartments or hotels. But do you know what hasn’t changed one bit? The fact, that I still prefer hostels over any other form of accommodation. Here are five reasons why you would still find me in a hostel right now if you were to come to Tanzania.
Why invest money in a fancy accommodation instead of spending it on an experience? Here is a well-known fact: you can only spend money once. Why not invest it in an unforgettable experience? When my boyfriend and I recently planned our trip to Zanzibar I quickly realized that I’d rather save a little money by sleeping in a hostel and spend that money on fun activities like kite-surfing, snorkeling or boat trips to other islands around. Experiences are what make traveling special and educational, not fancy accommodations.
There is no better place to meet interesting and like-minded people. Hostels attract a certain audience. There is no way you will pop up at a hostel if you are narrow-minded, ignorant or don’t enjoy meeting people from all over the world. That’s why you are guaranteed to meet like-minded, open people that you can usually bond with right away. I have met some of the most interesting and inspiring people in hostels, some of which I have stayed in contact with over the years or met again while on the road.
There is a pretty big chance that you’ll end up surrounded by really unique architecture. Hostel owners obviously need to keep their spending low which is why many hostels are located in the most random buildings. In Warsaw I spent four nights in a monumental building from the 1920’s that used so serve as the Ministry of Food. When I visited Milan I slept in a Franciscan convent that had been converted into a backpackers’ paradise. And let’s not forget about the cool houseboat from where I got to discover Amsterdam. Modern hotel buildings just can’t keep up with that!
You will never feel lonely. Let’s face it: traveling on your own can be pretty scary, no matter how old and experienced you are. And there is nothing worse than sitting alone in your hotel room, feeling isolated and not knowing how to get in contact with anyone. When you stay at a hostel it is almost impossible to not meet other travelers. No matter whether you are a dorm kind of person or prefer a single room, whenever you feel the need to interact with somebody you just need to sit down in the common area and let the hostel atmosphere do its magic.
Hostel staffs can offer you a unique insight into a city. Usually hostels are run by people who love to travel themselves and know exactly how to give their guests the best experience possible. Pub crawls, food tours or local cooking classes are usually offered on a regular basis and that’s how you can be sure to not only see the touristy places. Instead of paying for overpriced food and drinks you’ll be able to enjoy a day or night out just like the locals do.