Bunk beds at Madpackers Hostel
My definition of a hostel is that it is a place where people share laughs, stories, create relationships, and exchange smiles. Everybody’s traveling style is different. Some opt for staying in hostels while traveling, and some try alternative stay options. A hostel is nothing but a shared accommodation. My choice of accommodation while I travel has evolved over the years, and I do sometimes stay in hostels. But if you are traveling on a budget, or staying short term, staying in a hostel will keep cost low. Most people resent the idea of traveling because it is often advertised as luxury. I often traveled to a city if someone I know lived there. It was when I traveled to South Kerala that I discovered the world of hostels. When I checked the website of a travelers’ hostel, I found the room was inexpensive for the facilities it advertised. Only when I got there did I learn about hostels for travelers which is cheaper than hotel rooms. So what is a travelers hostel? Why should you consider staying in a hostel than a hotel?
A backpackers hostel is often located in a place which is easily reachable from the airport, the bus station, and the train station. It is well connected with the rest of the city, or near to a tourist spot like the beach, or ancient monuments. It does not make sense for you to stay 20 kilometers away from the city unless you like a quiet stay in the plains.
Some backpacking hostels will have their own vehicles to transport travelers from the airport to the hostel, the price for which is either included in the price or not. Some hostels will have tied up with taxi cab companies to do this. This will help prevent overcharging. Yes, travelers usually complain of this. Hostels do advertise sight seeing trips and will arrange taxis
Safety at Hostels
Safety is a primary concern for travelers. Whatever definition of safety travelers may have, hostels seem to provide it. To safeguard your belongings, they may have locker facilities in the dormitory to store luggage and valuables during your stay. Being able to keep your valuables safe will keep your blood pressure under control. Some hostels charge extra for locker facility, or some have the price of it covered in your stay.
A kitchen is the most basic facility of any accommodation, and I like choosing hostels over hotels, or guesthouses for the kitchen. Many hostels do cook breakfast for free, same as the hotels. However, lunch and dinner needs to be ordered in. So kitchens can help you make meals without spening a lot on lunch or dinner. How cool is it to cook your own meal? You being able to use a kitchen, that is actually not yours to cook food for you, and for friends you made at the hostel.
Yes, a fast and free internet. Most hostels have wi fi for free. There are hostels that charge for this privilege. This is important most of the times as most backpackers do not plan too ahead, and they will take help of Google. Lonely Planet isn’t always the answer, but internet sometimes is. There are hostels that do not provide internet at all. But even that is a good thing. Which brings me to the next point.
What is traveling if you cannot make friends, right? Most people you meet at travelers hostels are keen on making friends with you, even have a few rounds of beer with you. Well, some may give you a cold shoulder just like the Spanish PhD student at a hostel I stayed at Kochi, and the group of British teens who not only did they not respond to my greetings, but they did not sleep in the same room as me in Varkala. But overall, you will find travel companions in hostels too, which is the best thing to happen. Most of the hostels will have a common halls like the picture below. You might have games, conversations going on, people telling travel stories to each other. This picture belongs to the Madpackers Hostel in Jodhpur.
Some hostels let you work for them for a few hours. If you are not working in the hostel you are staying at, you may find work elsewhere. You may meet someone who may know about a farm you could work at whilst living there for free. Whilst I stayed in a hostel in Kochi, I met a British photographer who told me about an opportunity with a British charity that was working in India. After I came back home, I looked it up and then took up the volunteering gig.
India has had hostels in the past, and there are many travelers hostels these days that provide all the facilities mentioned above. Based on the conversations I had with backpackers, I learnt that the hostels in India sometimes have better facilities than the ones in Europe, besides it is way inexpensive than in Europe. The price ranges from Rs.400 to Rs.2000 based on the kind of room you take. So, browse, discover, travel.