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When you’re traveling, it can sometimes be more advantageous to choose a hostel over a more conventional hotel/motel. There are many things to consider beforehand, however, since not every personality will be a good fit for the communal environment of a hostel. There are definitely pros and cons to choosing to go the hostel route, it just takes a little research to decide whether it’s a good match for you.

Pros

You can save significant money by staying in a hostel. Since you are only paying for a bed, not a room, the cost is going to be much lower than a standard hotel. If you have food, you can often prepare your own meals in a hostel, since many come equipped with kitchen facilities.

If you are traveling with friends. You can enjoy each other’s company in shared accommodations. Some hostels will allow up to 20 travelers in a room, so you can eliminate having to decide who shares rooms.

Throughout Europe, hostels are located practically on every corner. This availability makes it easier to find room and board for a night since reservation policies aren’t as stringent as they are with hotels. The other benefit is the uniqueness of each and every establishment. You’ll never stay in the same hostel twice unless you return to the exact spot.

The sense of community in a hostel is prevalent. It’s a very dorm-like, fun atmosphere. People are often passing thru to their next destination, so they have plenty of stories to share. Make sure you ask plenty of questions and seek recommendations from people familiar with your destination cities. Parties are frequent occurrences, and spontaneous excursions can spring up out of nowhere. It’s also where lifelong friendships can be made, just from these shared adventures with other guests.

As far as safety is concerned, you should use common sense but most hostels won’t allow non-guests to enter, especially at night. You can also ask for your valuables to be locked up, which some places can accommodate.

Cons

If privacy is your thing, then a hostel definitely isn’t for you. Even the bathrooms are shared, with most places adopting the dorm-like format of one or two bathrooms per floor. As far as roommates, there’s no predicting whether you’ll have one or 20. If you aren’t particularly social, be prepared to have many people attempt to engage you in conversation for the duration of your stay. There is no 24 room service or even round the clock staffing. Be sure to always have your room key on hand because there may not be anyone to let you in after hours if you forget.