6 reasons I love staying in hostels when traveling solo

Sep 14, 2021

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My first hostel stay was in Hong Kong when I was doing a solo mileage run. Friendly staff, a comfortable night of sleep, a reasonable price and included breakfast meant that my first hostel stay wouldn’t be my last.

I’ve stayed at hostels many times over the years. I’ve booked entire dorm rooms when traveling with friends. And I’ve stayed in dorm rooms and private rooms when traveling with my husband. But I turn to hostels most often when traveling solo.

So, today I’ll discuss six reasons I love staying in hostels when traveling solo.

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In This Post

Comfort in numbers

Mahana Lodge Tahiti
Dorm room at Mahana Lodge Tahiti. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

When I took my first solo trips in college, I tried staying in hotels. And frankly, I quickly found that I didn’t like staying in hotels by myself.

But, instead of giving up on solo travel, I tried out a few hostels on later trips. I found that I enjoyed their liveliness and community feel. And I found comfort in having other guests in the dorms and common areas at just about any time of day or night.

Admittedly, I’ve shifted many of my stays to hotels over the last few years. After all, I write about points, miles and loyalty, so I like to earn and redeem hotel loyalty points on my stays. Plus, as a digital nomad, hotels provide a more consistent working environment for me. But some hostels are evolving to cater to remote workers.

Related: Hostels are becoming vacation rentals in response to pandemic demand

Built-in coworking space

Woman reading book in a hostel common area
At some hostels, you may not get much quiet when working or studying in the common spaces. (Photo by Rawpixel/Getty Images)

From Singapore and Australia to Turkey, I’ve spent countless hours working from common areas in hostels.

I often felt like a downer as I sat working while other guests were having fun around me. So, I started booking private rooms with a desk when I knew I’d need to work more than just a few hours each day.

Luckily, as the digital nomad lifestyle of working remotely while traveling continues to gain popularity, some hostels are setting aside specific coworking spaces. For example, the Selina brand has hostels in the Americas and Europe that offer lodging, coworking and activities.

So, although I’m not planning to book any party hostels going forward, I would happily shift some of my stays to hostels that cater to digital nomads and offer a low price point.

Related: 6 tips for working remotely from paradise so you can extend your summer

Low price point

Dorm room at Back Home Kuala Lumpur Hostel in Malaysia
Back Home Kuala Lumpur Hostel in Malaysia offered a women-only dorm with comfortable mattresses and useful amenities at a low price point. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Most hotels can fit at least two guests in each room, and don’t charge more for the second guest. So, solo travelers can often get a better deal at hostels that offer shared lodging or private rooms designed for just one guest.

Some hostels even provide better quality than budget hotels. I’ve stayed at hostels in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore that provided luxury amenities including high-quality soaps, comfortable bedding, onsite Japanese baths and even laundry butler service.

If you have hotel free night certificates to use — or you’re working to earn or use hotel elite status — then you may want to stay at a hotel. But if you don’t care about hotel loyalty and plan to spend most of your time outside your room, staying at a hostel when traveling solo may save you serious money.

Related: 5 incredible solo trips to take on points and miles

Ease of meeting other travelers

These chairs would be a great place to chat with a new friend. (Photo courtesy of Hosteling International USA)

Perhaps my favorite reason to stay at hostels as a solo traveler is the community.

Whether you strike up a conversation with your bunkmates in a dorm or with fellow travelers in a shared kitchen, it’s easy to find someone to sightsee with that night or the next day.

You can also meet a diverse set of travelers at hostels. For example, in Phoenix I met a woman who was hitchhiking across America. And in Bad Goisern, Austria, I met a student who was traveling against the wishes of pretty much everyone she’d left back home.

Of course, you can meet other travelers regardless of where you stay. But the culture you’ll find at hostels makes it easy to meet other travelers. And I’ve found it easier to meet other travelers at hostels when I’m traveling alone. After all, when traveling solo, you’re more likely to start a conversation with a stranger or ask to join a fun-looking group in the common area.

Related: 9 of the best destinations for women to travel solo

Loads of activities

Activities board at Fremantle Prison YHA in Australia
Activities board at Fremantle Prison YHA in Australia. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Hostels typically offer a variety of activities that facilitate meeting other travelers. The best hostels make it easy to land in a city with no plans and still have a worthwhile trip.

Many hostels offer daily tours that can help you see the destination’s most significant sites. And in most cases, you’ll go on these tours with other guests from your hostel or nearby hostels. In turn, it’s easy to meet other solo travelers on these tours. And they’re generally free or priced on a per-person basis, making them attractive to solo travelers.

Granted, some smaller hostels may not have many activities. But the front desk staff is usually happy to help you plan your visit. And many hostels have printouts and informational boards that list popular sites and activities and how to do them as an independent traveler on a budget.

Related: How to travel solo — and why you absolutely should

Useful amenities

Guest kitchen at Fremantle Prison YHA in Australia
The guest kitchen at Fremantle Prison YHA in Australia. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Finally, many of the best hostels offer amenities that are well suited for solo travelers. For example, coworking and common area spaces can be useful for working around other travelers and meeting people. And many hostels — especially in Australia — offer boards where you can offer or find rides to other cities.

Plus, I’ve stayed at multiple hostels, including Sydney Harbour YHA in Sydney and #Bunk Hostel in Istanbul, which offered amazing rooftop views. Although this feature is appealing to all travelers, solo travelers may find that rooftops with impressive views are a good meeting place — especially when accompanied by a bar.

I also love having a shared kitchen when traveling alone. After all, it’s nice to cook some of my meals instead of eating alone or trying to find dining companions for every meal. Plus, even if your hostel doesn’t offer a full kitchen, most have refrigerators for leftovers — which can be extremely helpful when a meal is unexpectedly too large for a party of one.

Related: 11 of the best apps for solo travelers

Bottom line

Even if you typically travel with a friend or significant other, taking an occasional solo trip can be fun. After all, when you’re traveling alone, you don’t need to worry about the wants and needs of your travel companion(s).

But when I’m traveling alone, I often don’t get enough value out of a hotel, especially in expensive cities. So, I’ll splurge on a hotel in cities where I can book luxury hotels at budget prices, but I’ll consider hostels when visiting expensive cities alone or on trips where I plan to spend limited time in my room.

Featured photo of the Sydney Harbour YHA by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.

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