Hola, friends. Greetings from my balcony in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Last night I slept on the sofa with the sliders open so I could hear the ocean all night long. It was glorious! I love you, ocean! The kids are off for the morning to work on cleaning up the overgrown yard of a nearby house and I am sitting here to write, smell the salty air, and spend some time with my birth country. The US feels good and overwhelming/broken at the same time. It saddens me, greatly. There is a post in development, don’t you worry.
Hostels! Do you do them? Or not? Why? Or why not? Here are some reasons to stay in hostels.
We love to stay in hostels. I mean who does not want cold showers, noisy hallways, hard beds and hand towels to wipe their butt? Right? Ok, so I must admit the aforementioned is not the allure for us, but the price and atmosphere definitely is.
Reasons to stay in hostels:
- They are less expensive. They are almost always less money than Airbnb and hotels. If we are planning to stay in a location for a month or longer then we usually book an Airbnb so we can cook at home. Otherwise, we are hostel bound when they are available.
- They have yummy breakfast! Ha! We only book hostels that have breakfast included. This saves us a ton of money and gets us off to a good start for the day. The quality and size of the breakfast usually varies, but we can adjust to save money.
- They have interesting clientele. We meet friendly, optimistic, well-read, open-minded individuals who are traveling to learn more about the world with the idea of one day making a difference. To me, this is the biggest advantage to staying in a hostel. Our children are exposed to people from all over the world who are forging their own path in life, living different and thinking outside the box. They are our tribe. Most of these folks are 20 and 30 somethings, but there are also some traveling families like us and seniors who have spent their whole life traveling off the grid. I just love the seniors because they are people who have chosen a travel life that goes beyond the fancy hotels and fine dining. They have stories and so much to share. These people bring great knowledge and hope to our travel life. Plus, they are so darn accepting of differences and excited to see families out traveling as they did when they had young kids.
- They are spontaneous. Hostels are full of individuals who wake up having nothing planned for the day and then decide in a minute’s notice to go on a three-day safari with four people they met at breakfast. I love this because it teaches our kids to be spontaneous and not to get too set in a routine. Also, it teaches them to keep their minds open for adventure and to be flexible in their days.
- They have social and well equipped common areas. Unlike hotels or Airbnb’s, hostels have a common area that is buzzing from morning until night. Since many people who sleep in hostels have been traveling for an extended period of time, they don’t feel the need to sight-see every day. They take rest time to work, check emails, recharge, chat, and much more. As a result, you can usually find comfy sofas, hammocks, games and other items that make the common area feel more like a living room. This works very well for our family since Will and I still need to work as we are traveling around. The kids will hunker down in a hammock with a book, play a game of chess with another resident or just chill while we pay the bills. There is always food readily available from the cafe. I think my kids ate their weight in guac and chips in Cuenca.
- They are a wealth of knowledge. As I have mentioned before, we don’t do guide books. We do FB and other travelers’ opinions. Our greatest source of information for travel is to ask other travelers. These travelers are not sharing knowledge to brag about how much they have seen, but rather to share their favorite experiences. This stuff is not in the guide books, but the young, avid travelers know it all.
- They are not comfortable in regards to accommodations. And that is a good thing. We don’t like our kids to get too comfortable or be too pampered. We want them to do hard things and come out of their comfort zones. We could afford a hotel, but we choose not to. We choose not to for all the reasons to stay in hostels listed above, but we also choose not to so they can learn to adjust to situations that are not always within their norm. They have slept on floors, showered without hot water (gone without showers for weeks), dried with hand towels (dried with napkins), worn dirty clothes for days on end and so much more. Yes, we could pay to have all of this removed from their travel life, but we choose not to for a very specific reason.
- They are noisy. Now for me, this sucks, because I am a light sleeper, but we do it for the kids. Again, as I mentioned above, we want them to be able to acclimate to different situations. This will only help them as they become adults. Hostels are noisy, that is just a fact. They are filled with young folks with lots of energy who are ready to connect with other travelers. I love exposing our kids to the world of solo travel that will one day be theirs if they so choose.
- They are safe. Yes, I said it. Hostels have small rooms, thin walls and lots of people. We have never once felt threaten or in a dangerous situation while staying in a hostel. And if there happened to be an incident we could scream and the whole building would wake up to help us.
Have you stayed in hostels with your children? Why not? I have to say that there are very few children in hostels and I find it to be a huge disappointment. There is so much to be learned by spending even a week in a hostel. Do it once, just once and you will be surprised how much it opens your child’s mind and helps them to become a better traveler. And for yourself, get out of that comfort zone. Take the plunge and try something new. You might just make a new friend, learn about a new adventure or discover something amazing about yourself. Do you have any reasons to stay in hostels to share with us?