When I published my post earlier this week about my recent trip to Nashville, I ended up getting a lot of questions and comments about my decision to stay in a hostel for the first part of the trip.
(If you didn’t know, I stayed in an all-female eight-bed hostel room for the first few nights of my trip. It was a blast!)
I was a little caught off-guard by the questions, actually. I know hostels aren’t as prevalent in the U.S. as they are over in Europe, but I’m so accustomed to them that sometimes I forget they’re not quite as common here in the States! When I travel alone, hostels are always my first choice of lodging because they’re budget-friendly, and they’re a great way to build friendships with other members of the travel community.
When I say budget friendly, I mean it. Hostels can actually be dirt cheap. I’ve booked beds in the U.S. for as low as $20 a night… which means more money to spend on drinks, dining and souvenirs! And the building friendships part is no joke. Every time I’ve stayed in a hostel — both here in the U.S and over in Europe — I’ve always met so many people from so many countries!
Because so many hostel-dwellers are traveling alone, everyone kind of ends up hanging out together. It’s great. Not only do you learn about different cultures, but you also end up having friends to spend your trip with, so you don’t end up playing tourist all by your lonesome. Plus, if you keep those connections via Facebook (I always do!), you have couches to crash on in the future if you ever need them.
But, hostels can sometimes be a little scary if you’re not totally prepared. If you’re a first-time hostel stayer, I’d definitely suggest booking a smaller one-gender room, like a four-bed female room. My first ever hostel stay was a mixed-gender 12-bed room in Washington D.C., and I was kind of terrified! I shared a room with two of my friends and nine incredibly drunk German men, and got about two hours of sleep. I definitely was not prepared for the experience.
But, after staying in a slew of hostels across two continents, I think I’ve become a bit better at knowing what to expect, how to prepare and what to pack.