Tightwad Travel Tip #6: Hostels

Your next travel tale starts here

Hostels can unlock the power of your travel money. They can extend your vacation from just one week to four. They’re safe, friendly, comfortable, and, best of all, affordable. 

What is a hostel?

bunk beds in a hostel

A hostel–unlike a hotel–caters to budget-conscious travelers seeking a place to crash. Many, though not all, strive to provide a sense of community among the guests. Camaraderie over seclusion, wanderlust over luxury, experience over creature comfort. Hostels are all this and more! 

To cash in on a hostel’s friendliness and discounts, you only have to forego one noticeable thing: the walls separating you from the other guests. Many hostels offer private rooms for just 1 or 2 weary travelers, but most rooms have between 4 and 20 beds. More beds = cheaper price. It also means more chances to meet likeminded travelers!


hell no wag fingerHeeeeeell no! ?

I know many of you think that hostels aren’t for you. They’re dirty, uncomfortable, dangerous, noisy, and far from the city center. I’m here to tell you why that’s not true.

Hostels get a bad rap for a good reason: many used to be everything listed above. While there were plenty of good ones to keep the idea alive and well, many hostels were filthy hovels where everyone’s luggage got stolen. Time (and the transparency brought by the Internet) has changed all that! 

You can select clean, comfortable, safe, and quiet hostels in prime locations with just a few tips. Read on to open your eyes to new travel possibilities!


These are my 3 favorite websites for discovering hostels. They are reputable, full of reviews, have good cancellation policies (check each hostel), and offer mobile apps.

3 Valuable Tips for Booking Hostels

The Internet has made it easier than ever to separate the good hostels from the bad. Use it to your advantage!

Tip #1: Look at the reviews!  

Many of your concerns are answered in a single panel on the booking page. 

hostel review summary


Tip #2: Pick the right hostel by plotting locations on Google Maps!

screenshot of top things to do in Amsterdam plotted on Google Maps

Capture a screenshot for later. I also recommend that you bookmark your search. Even if you choose a different hostel, you can quickly find where it is on your newly created tourist map!  

Tip #3: Verify cancellation policies!

If you think your plans might change, make sure to find the hostels’ cancellation policies before booking. Many offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before arrival! 

Storytime: Making new friends 

I hated the idea of hostels when I was 16. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to share a room with total strangers. I was interested in travel, but only a part of it.

My eyes began to open when I studied abroad in Japan. Suddenly the opportunities for travel multiplied exponentially. Unfortunately, my money didn’t. I was ready to see it all but had no way to go! Being in Japan, a notoriously expensive country, didn’t make my job any easier. In the end, I sucked up my concerns, gave hostels a try, and have never looked back!

I also traveled a lot when I lived in China. In 2015, I decided to visit Beijing for a week. I booked a hostel for my solo trip, packed my bags, and was on my way! 

Nestled on a small alley in the heart of Beijing, my hostel didn’t look like much from the outside. It was in these quaint accommodations that I met my new friend. He was French-Canadian and interested in Asia. I was American and living in China. We both loved travel, neuroscience, and cheap bowls of warm noodles. We hit it off right away! 

Had I sequestered myself away, I might have enjoyed the peace and quiet of my private room. That said, it’s unlikely that I would’ve made new friends. I would’ve missed out on our great conversations at the Great Wall of China, laughs over bowls of spicy noodles, and even the chance to show a newcomer around my old stomping grounds in Tokyo the following month. 

By removing the barriers around your room, you can remove the barriers to starting new friendships. This, more than economical accommodation, is where the true value of hostels lie.

Plan your next adventure!

Browse around. See what you find. These 3 sites–and many others–are full of hostels that meet every price point, interest, and need. 

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Posted in Tips, Travel.

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