So, you’ve booked your flight. What’s next?
Accommodations, of course!
Hostels are a great way for young travelers to save money and meet people. I love all that hostels have to offer and finding the right one gives me thrills. When I send pictures of my living situation while traveling to my family, they all seem pleasantly surprised of all you can get for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve booked some duds in the past, but I’m going to share my way of finding the right hostel for your trip.
The main takeaways to think about are:
- What am I going to use my accommodation for?
- How much do I want to pay?
Asking yourself those two questions are the best way to find a hostel. For example, if you want to use your accommodation just as a place to sleep after doing some hardcore sight-seeing on a quick weekend trip, you might want a place close to public transit, a quieter hostel (no party pictures on their profile) with a smaller dorm or private room. But if you’re on a month-long backpacking trip around Southeast Asia and still haven’t had your share of partying, you might want to save money by getting a larger dorm room and a more lively atmosphere.
Now, here’s a more detailed step-by-step on my process of choosing hostels…
Step 1: Enter your information
I’m going to demonstrate how I booked our amazing hostel in Bangkok on Hostel World as an example using an arbitrary future date for a few reasons: it’s one of my all-time favorite hostels, the choices in Bangkok are especially overwhelming and although I recently booked a trip to Mexico I’m not sure how the hostel will compare in real life yet.
This search yielded almost 400 results. What to make of this?! Fret not…
Step 2: Apply basic filters
What is your budget? How depraved are you willing to live? What kind of room do you want? Everybody is looking for something different. Personally, my filters are usually pretty similar regardless of where I travel…
I would rather spend the extra dollar or two a night on a nicer place, so my starting minimum rating is 8.5.
I also usually go for mid-range priced hostels, wherever I may be. Luckily in Bangkok, that seems to be about $10 per night, but I’m willing to stretch a bit for the right place, so I made my price per night maximum $16.
Although hostels do have private rooms, I usually opt for a 4-6 person dorm room, either mixed or female (in the end, I will always opt for whichever one is cheaper). I once stayed in a 20-person dorm in Dublin… never again.
These basic filters now yield about 150 properties. Getting there!
Step 3: Apply advanced filters
I will then apply more advanced filters to suit my needs or preferences regarding facilities. For example, it’s always good to have free WiFi and I love having a bar or restaurant in the hostel because they usually offer discounted food and drinks! Other amenities I enjoy are 24 hour reception, lockers and luggage storage.
With those final few prefrences, we’re now down to only a few dozen results…
Step 4: Location
This could also be switched with step 2 or 3, depending on my holiday location, hostel availability and how much I want to be in a certain area.
My prior research of Bangkok tells me the area where most of the things I want to do is further west, so I’ll focus on the hostels there…
With that, we have our final few contenders.
Step 5: Process of elimination
Finally, I will open the remaining 5-10 hostels in their own tab for a side-by-side comparison. For this, I am looking at the pictures to get the general atmosphere of the hostel (in Bangkok, I was looking for something especially sociable), number of reviews (I think a 9* rating with 4,000 reviews is more reliable than a 9* rating with 100 reviews), dorm options and total price. Usually, I will go tab by tab and think, “Did I like this better than the last one?” and close the tab of the hostel I liked least of the two until I have one choice left.
For this trip, my final choice was Bed Station KhaoSan and I couldn’t have been happier. The pictures showed a lively time around the pool and modern dorm rooms and it’s location in Party City was an asset, too.
There you have it! My methods of booking hostels. I’ve found as many gems as I have complete duds and 95% of my hostels are unremarkable (just a place to lay my head), but you never truly know what you’re going to get until you arrive which I think is always fun and interesting.
Do you like to stay in hostels? What has been your favorite?