Backpacker Tips

If you’re a budget traveler it’s inevitable that you’ll stay a night or two in a hostel.  But how do you pick out a good hostel to stay at for the night?  How do you better your odds at avoiding a bad one?

After some time on the road, just about any backpacker can say they’ve had experiences on both ends of the spectra.  Take Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt, for example.  On his blog, he mentions his Horror Story: The Roommate Who Shits in the Dorm Room.

It’s probably better left said that you don’t want anyone to drop a deuce in the middle of your dorm room.  While most places do follow a certain hostel etiquette, there are a few things that you should look out for in choosing your next place to stay.

Finding a good hostel abroad


Are you close to anywhere you want to explore during your trip?  Find a location that’s near popular backpacking destinations, has decent night-life & is within walking distance of some good street food/restaurants.



How busy is your potential hostel?  Will it be too loud to get any sleep at night?  Does your dorm room have 6 beds or 12?  Keeping the noise factor in mind will reflect how each of your days will start off (and end) depending on whether or not you get a good nights rest.


Group Activities

It’s important for budget travelers to look for hostel’s that get involved with the backpackers traveling through by offering group activities.  This shows you they authentically care about your trip, so much, that they go out of their way to create guided tours that can be both more affordable & more fun as you’ll be going with your fellow dorm-mates.



Breakfast…it’s the most important meal of the day!  Places that offer a good breakfast (more than a loaf of bread and glass of water) is very important to me.  Try to find a place that offers breakfast during decent hours.  You’ll not only cut a budget for one meal, but you can also stash a few extra snacks in your backpack for the upcoming day of exploring!



With anyone on a budget, the price is a very important factor.  It’s the major decision maker of how long your trip lasts as well as what you get to do on the road.  But sometimes, it’s possible to be a little too cheap.  Don’t be afraid to spend the extra 50 cents and spoil yourself a little! 😉



Does your hostel offer lockers?  Is it free?  Well, it should be!  Safety should be every hostel’s primary priority.  If you stay in a hostel that offers lockers great!  If you have to pay for those lockers, step back and walk away.  They obviously don’t care for your well-being and are only looking to make an extra buck when they get the chance…even if that means acquiring your belongings to re-sell them on the streets…



Look for hostels with kitchens.  This offers you the opportunity to prepare your own food, lessen your budget for food and also share a meal between friends.  Remember, sharing a meal not only cuts your budget but it is also a great way to make new friends…that & bringing some beer or a little rum!


Check-Out Time

If you’re going to choose a hostel, choose one with a late check-out time.  The later they are the better because getting good nights rest on the road is a very rare thing.  I find that check-out times around 11 am or 12 noon is in the green zone.  Anything before that is just bogus.

Whenever you’re looking for a hostel, keep in mind that not only will the amenities make a big impression on your stay but the staff will too.  Even the best of the best hostels can turn a good stay into a groggy experience if the people aren’t willing to help you out.  

Where, on the other side of things, some of the more mediocre hostels will create a better impression.  This is simply because they went out of their way to help you.  

If anything, remember this simple rule of thumb: the more the staff are willing to help you out, the more likely you are to enjoy your hostel.  And even if you don’t get that “once in a lifetime” room, take it easy and take what gets thrown your way with a smile. After all, that’s what traveling is about. Having a good time and creating good stories with those unique experiences!

What do you look out for when finding a good hostel abroad?