Hotels Versus Hostels When Traveling in Europe

When travelling, especially in Europe, you will have the option of staying in a hostel rather than a hotel. There are some advantages and disadvantages for using a hostel that we would like to point out here. It is very difficult to generalize about exactly what a hostel is and what it offers because there are multiple variations. But you should expect minimally the three S's: shelter, shower and security for considerably less money than for a hotel room. In exchange you will have little or no privacy.

If you are travelling to meet other people and view communing with strangers as a part of the away-from-home experience, hostels may be perfect for you. You may sleep in a dormitory setting with bunk beds and have common kitchen and bathrooms. However, as the hostelling industry has advanced, more are providing smaller units for sleeping. Some bathrooms may be segregated, but some may not.

Another aspect is where the hostel is located. Nearly all will be located in the low rent districts in town, and often in minority communities. They may very well be as safe as in the hotel districts, but some might have to get over feeling out of place. Actually, if you're traveling and are keen on exploring different cultures, this may be where you want to be anyway. Hostels aren't nearly as prevalent in the United States as in many places around the world (especially Europe), but major cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco have a rather good selection.

Related Articles: Touring Europe? You should take the train!

Staff will be very limited; you probably won't have anyone to contact between 11PM and 8AM. You will probably have to bring your own bath towels, but bed sheets will in most cases be provided (often with a small one-time fee). Sleeping bags may be allowed, but may not due to sanitary regulations. Most everything that is offered in a hostel will cover the three S's, but everything is designed to keep costs at a bare minimum.

As stated earlier it is hard to generalize what you will find as far as cost savings and amenities. The best thing is to ask questions about their requirements when you book, and then don't go in with any preconceived notions. Just be ready to deal with inconveniences cheerfully if you are accustomed to the comforts most hotels provide. And just by mingling with strangers who are from different cultures, you will normally get an invaluable education that will last a lifetime. But it is important to keep an open mind.

Author  is a writer and avid traveler living in Chicago. Check out Glen's 2 travel websites about Europe and Florida and

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