Travel Cheap Tips #4: Save Money by Staying in Hostels

Don’t be afraid of staying in hostels — There’s a way to do it smart. And, hostels are NOT just for college kids!

The world’s first hostel was born in 1912. They are the brainchild of German schoolteacher, Richard Schirrmann, who wanted to help young Deutschlanders escape the confines of the city and expand their minds (and characters) in the countryside. One hostel quickly turned into two, then six, then 20—until there was a massive network of budget accommodations throughout the world.

You may not know it, but today most hostels welcome travelers of all ages. They just need to be willing to forgo luxuries—and sometimes a bit of sleep—in exchange for accommodations that cost a fraction of a hotel room in the same neighborhood. My opinion is that ’tis better to have seen it frugally, than to never have seen it at all!

There are good hostels and there are bad hostels. (No different than hotels.) They can be independently owned or affiliated with an international organization, such as Hostelling International (the direct descendant of Richard Schirrmann’s firstborn).

Even those that are part of a large organization have their own unique personality. One might be a retrofitted vintage house or converted apartment complex, while another is a former university dormitory. Some are even former lighthouses or windmills. You can even find a rustic cabin perched on the peak of a mountain.

While some offer private rooms and baths, most are dormitory-style with shared (sometimes unisex) bathrooms. Along with your key, you’re usually handed a set of probably mismatched, but clean sheets and a well-used, but clean bath towel.

Besides the rock bottom rates, hostels often offer the following perks:

  • Communal gathering areas where you can dine, trade travel stories and tips, or play board games or cards with fellow wanderers
  • Free or low cost group tours and outings
  • A free in-house concierge service
  • A self-serve [and self-cleaned] kitchen where you can store and cook your food

If you research thoroughly and read those reviews, you can find a hostel that may gift you with one of the cheapest and meaningful travel experiences of your short or long lifetime.

Here are some helpful links to get you started on your research on staying in hostels:

If you’ve ever stayed in a hostel, share your tips or story in a comment.

Don’t miss my other tips for traveling cheap — The Wandering Ex-Housewife’s Travel Cheap Tips!