Are you traveling alone or on a budget? You have to try a hostel!
I just got back from a week in Barcelona. I have been to Barcelona a few times before and it still ranks as one of my favorite cities in the world. Great weather, amazing food and a fantastic walking culture all combine to make it a must see city. My AirBnb plans changed last minute and some traveling companions suggested I stay at he hostel they were booked at. I have used hostels before and while I know they are mostly younger crowds, my experiences have been good. I figured what the heck. 25 Euro a night was the cheapest option and this was for a 12 bunk mixed dorm. I signed up and away we went. Now this wasn’t just any hostel, this was The Rock Palace Hostel!
As soon as we arrived, I was in awe. The place was immaculate and just all out cool. Rock n roll memorabilia everywhere and lots of great public areas. Check in was a breeze and I was given an RFID card that would get me in the building, in my dorm and also open a digital storage locker where I could keep my bags. No need for padlocks or keys! Yay!
The dorm was well lit and super clean. I grabbed a top bunk at the end and it had clean sheets and a blanket all folded up for me. There was a great little cubby with a reading light and charging outlets as well. There was also 2 showers and a bathroom that was shared by just our dorm.
Now the reason I think everyone should try this. The people are always so friendly and helpful. Everyone we met was fun and looking to chat a bit about what part of the world they were from, where they had been and where they were going. Lots of good advice was shared willingly about what to see and do nearby as well. The hostel itself had a great daily program. All you can eat breakfast every morning for $3.50 Then free walking tours of the city daily. Every evening there was a different dinner prepared for us in the large community kitchen and they charged anywhere from $3-5 and that usually included a beer or sangria. At 11pm every night, someone from the hostel led us on an organized bar and club crawl. Everyone was friendly and acted like we had all been friends for years. I never felt old or out of place even though I was about 15 years older than the average.
So great location, very cheap, social activities planned for you and a fabulous way to meet new friends! This is a win win situation and a great way top get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
Here are my tips and tricks for hostel stays
- Bring earplugs and a sleeping mask. People do come and go at all hours and unless you can sleep through anything, earplugs will be a lifesaver.
- Have some locks to lock your stuff up. My hostel had digital lockers but most have the old school ones that require you to have a padlock.
- Travel with a packable travel towel. I use this one http://amzn.to/2qdDWaI. It packs down to nothing and has a million uses. Beach days, caught in a downpour, gets chilly at night, etc.
- Most hostels have options ranging from 16 man bunks, mixed dorms, all the way down to private rooms. Yes you can get a private room and it will be just like a hotel but with the added social benefits.
- You can buy groceries and cook and store food there. I saw a lot of families who were staying there do this and it is a great way to do something together and save money.
- Be social! This is new for me but you have to talk to people. You will get so much out of it. People were very helpful in telling me about local attractions, great cheap restaurants and sights I may have missed. It was also fun to have a big group to hang out with.
- Look at the social calendar and join in. You didn’t come to sleep and be a hermit!
- Rent a bike or skateboard from the hostel. Most offer bike rentals and they are significantly cheaper than local bike places. Plus the added benefit of starting and ending your rental where you live.
- Bring your headphones. I loved watching a movie on my laptop at night to wind down.
- Bring your friends. Having your peeps with you always makes things fun. Share the experience and expand on the people you talk to and information you learn. Plus makes splitting things like Uber and meals a lot easier and more economical.