Sunday, September 15, 2013

Traveling Cheaply, Part 2: Hostels

In my second post about traveling cheaply, prompted by my trip to New York last weekend I'm going to give you a little hint about saving money in your lodging.  It's a hidden secret to many Americans . . . hostels.

Now don't turn up your nose and say, "Eww hostels" and leave this page.  That is part of the problem.  I'm going to debunk a lot of the myths involved with this touchy subject.  Hostels are a great way to save money in a big city where hotel prices can be out the roof!  (Obviously, this is only meant for large cities that have hostels, most smaller areas won't have the option.)

Yest hostels usually mean a much smaller room and sometimes a shared bathroom, but it's worth it with the money you save.  Besides, if you're visiting a big city, generally you are going to be sightseeing and not there for relaxation so you should really only be in your hotel to sleep and all you need for that is a bed!

Myths About Hostels Debunked

1. You have to sleep in a dorm with lots of other people you don't know.  This is probably the biggest myth about hostels.  At one point, they may have only come in dorm style rooms and they certainly still have the option for super cheap, but hostels now also understand that most people want some privacy and do offer private rooms and sometimes even private bathrooms as well.

Hostel NYC2. Hostels are dirty.  Not true for all places.  Just like hotels and motels, there are going to be a few places that aren't up to par, but that's what doing your online research is for and reading reviews.  Let me tell you that there are a lot of hostels that are clean and not only that, but they have been fully modernized and look totally chic.  Here's a place that my mom and I have stayed at before in NY.
Hostel NYC

 3. Only foreigners stay in hostels.  While incredibly rude, also not true.  Lots of Americans stay in American hostels.  It's just for those looking for a cheaper alternative to hotels so they can spend their money on activities and such in the place they are visiting!

4. Hostels aren't safe.  Many hostels either you have to have a key to enter or they have private security.  Most are just as safe as any hotel.  Just make sure you do your research and look at reviews.

Perks About Hostels

1. You're right near the action!  Many hostels are downtown or near the hotspots of a particular city.  To find a cheaper option in a hotel, you generally have to look on the outskirts of cities.  Not only does this mean it takes longer to get to wherever you want to go, it may mean added costs like a rental car or taxi.  That's not necessary with most hostels.

2. Fun events.  Because of the community feel in hostels, a lot offer fun activities within their walls like games and movies but many also offer fun things to do in the city.  These can be anything from museum trips to pub crawls.  Going in a group like this makes it cheaper and easier since you don't have to do the planning!  I've really wanted to take a trip down to San Diego to stay at this one hostel, USA Hostels San Diego, just because they offer a trip to Tijuana.  For just $18 you get: dinner, a guided tour of all the shopping and action that has made Tijuana world famous, a tequila tasting and, of course, hit a few of the best bars on the Avenida de la RevoluciĆ³n.  While being an American and traveling between the U.S. and Mexico should be simple, this just eliminates any troubles crossing the border and being with a group makes it much safer.

Let me know what you think about this.  If you have any places you've stayed and want to recommend go ahead.  As with anything, the internet is your best friend.  Do your research.  Read reviews (but take them with a grain of salt because some people are way too picky).  Find the place that suits you best.

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