Culture

Getting The Most Hostel Bang For Your Buck (Or Euro, Pound, Or Baht)

It’s not all about that per night price tag! Sometimes paying a little more for your dorm bed can save you a bunch in the long run. When you’re backpacking, price is a prominent consideration when it comes to hostels. But you don’t want to cut a few dollars off your accommodation just to fork out double in transport, food or activity costs. There’s a balance to be found between price, convenience and amenities, and smart backpackers know how to find this balance.

Here are my tips for finding the most cost-effective hostels.

Is there breakfast? If so, what kind?

 

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This is number one on my list of very-important-services in any hostel and it’s not just because it’s far easier to stumble down to breakfast with a hangover than it is to venture out into the world, but because it’s free.

But that’s not to say that all free breakfasts are equal — there’s a difference between watery instant coffee and a bit of toast, and pancakes with fresh fruit and enough maple syrup to drown yourself. Plus, with the right breakfast options you can feed yourself for a whole day.

I’m not opposed to making myself a boiled egg and cream cheese sandwich and wrapping it in a napkin for lunch. Check out hostel reviews to figure out if it’s a toast and instant coffee situation or a veritable smorgasbord, because it’s definitely worth the extra €2/night to save yourself €8 on breakfast out!

Do they offer hostel run walking tours, pub crawls or shuttles?

 

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Free walking tours are an awesome way find your feet in a new city and meet people while you’re at it. While they’re pretty common fare these days, especially in Europe, “free” pretty much means tipping is expected – and fair enough too! But this is not necessarily the case with hostel -run walking tours, pub crawls or shuttle buses. If the staff are on the clock, they’re getting paid, and hostels offer the service to give them a leg up against the competition, so why not take advantage?

You’ll also be sharing the tour with backpackers from the same hostel, which makes post-tour catch-ups even easier. Use the €15 you would have tipped to buy your new friends a round, and when you’re done, you can share an Uber back to the hostel because you’re all staying in the same place!

Hostels might also have free city maps and guides, and be sure to check the reviews for friendly staff – they probably know a few low-key gems to check out. It is cultural though. If you’re somewhere like the States, you should tip anyway – don’t be that traveller.

Are they centrally located?

 

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Major hostel booking websites let you browse in map view, and if you do, you might notice that the further out you go from the centre, the cheaper the bed for the night. But don’t let the low-price fool you. There’s no point saving a few bucks a night if you have to spend the money on transport every day. Besides, this eats up important sight-seeing time. Not to mention that having a hostel within stumbling distance on a big night out can save you some otherwise pricey taxi moolah when the metro closes.

But, this does depend on the city. You’re unlikely to get a central hostel bed for less than your right arm in a place like London, Paris or San Francisco, so in these cases look out for easy access to good public transport and google the neighbourhood. You might find yourself in a far cooler (and cheaper) part of the city.

Do they have a good kitchen or hostel dinners?

 

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If you think you’re going to eat out every night as a backpacker, you’re probably new to the game. A kitchen is essential to long-term travel, and one that’s well stocked is even better. No one wants to waste an extra few dollars buying dried rosemary for their pasta, so a big kitchen is a safe bet that the basics will be covered.

Some hostels will even offer cheap or free dinners one or two nights a week which not only saves a few bucks, but can be a bloody good time. Whether you meet your new best travel buddy peeling potatoes side by side at the sink, or over free cheese and crackers, a good kitchen is a winner for your wallet and your socials.

Do they have a laundry?

 

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Coin operated laundromats are generally cheapest, but if you’re in the centre of an old town they can be hard to come by and you might need to fork out for more expensive drop-off laundry services. If there’s a laundry at the hostel, you can chuck your clothes in and hang out with no time wasted. If they have free powder (which some do), even better!

Check out the list of services for coin-op or self-service laundries. This is a must in your hostel check list at least once a fortnight! There’s only so many times you can wash your undies in the sink.

Check out Qantas flights to begin your next adventure.