Staying at hostels is fun. They are well located and cheap. They also organize trips and great parties and it’s a great way to meet people. In La Paz, Bolivia, I had one of the best Halloween parties ever at the hostel I stayed.
I do have some issues with hostels, though. I don’t like dorms. The concept of people coming in and out at any time, sometimes drunk, bothers me a bit. The lack of privacy just kills the experience. Sleeping in the lower bunk bed with a couple having sex on the top bunk is not my idea of great sex, but at least someone is having fun. People snoring out loud can ruin a good night’s sleep.
The only way to get around this is booking a private room. Unfortunately, hostels do not treat solo travelers very well when all they want is a little privacy. Hostels normally don’t have single rooms, so they will charge the price for two people if you get a double room. A bit unfair, although I do understand they need to make money to continue to provide cheap accommodation. Still, they could be more solo traveler privacy friendlier charging something in between.
Another issue is the noise going on all night. I went to a Halloween party held at my hostel’s bar in La Paz. We partied until at least 4am (if I can remember well!). The noise was so loud you would be at the party whether you wanted to or not. You have to be mentally prepared for this and a set of ear plugs will be your best friends.
My Hostel Booking Process: Essential Gear
When you have to share a bathroom, make sure you have the right travel gear to help you through the experience. Sometimes this stuff is available for hire, but I prefer to have my own which also saves money:
- Ear plugs;
- Sleep Mask;
- Padlock for your locker;
- A small flashlight;
- Universal sink plug, powder soap and travel clothesline for DIY laundry;
- Shampoo and soap;
- Toilet paper;
- Microfiber towel is extremely useful: light, easy to pack and dries fast;
- Bed linen, just in case;
I always try to avoid shared bathrooms if I can. They come with low budget traveling, typical of most hostels and cheap hotels. But I have also seen them in boutique hotels. I was in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I stayed at a cool boutique hotel. I had to share a toilet with another room. Two rooms sharing a bathroom doesn’t sound too bad, but that changed when at 7am, the girl from the other room started singing in the shower. If that wasn’t enough to annoy me, she left the door on my side locked, so I couldn’t get in the bathroom. I had to ask the reception to unlocked it.
My hostel stay in Lima, Peru was even worse. When I tried to use the toilet, there was vomit everywhere. A poor guy was still on his knees and as he managed to get up, he looked at me and apologized. I smiled back. These things can happen when you stay at places where people want to have fun. You have to be mentally prepared and not be too demanding or else stay at a hotel.