Hello traveler! How many travel accounts do you follow on Instagram? How long have you been telling yourself “I want to go there” but don’t act on it. This post I hope I can break down for you how to get from point A, where you are at, to point B, where you want to be. We will go through how to navigate the hostel world landscape.
I had to put in fear because it is what is holding most back. Most of the time an excuse is an avoidance of something. It is fears label: I don’t have the money, I don’t have the time, I have no one to go with, no one wants to go with me, what about my dog, I hate flying, I don’t know where to begin… I could keep going.
New is not always comfortable. Most of the time what is new disturbs our walls of comfort created by the mind. The walls we have been working so hard to build. The walls in our mind contain us to mediocre. Change breaks down these walls and the ego likes to convince us that we need to stay inside the walls because it is scary and unknown beyond.
It is scary to travel. It’s a completely new world. Different people that know nothing about you and probably don’t care. Different restaurants, different dialect, maybe even a different monetary system. We play a game in our head about whether this new experience is going to bring us the same joy equivalent or more to something back home. If it doesn’t than we wasted so much time and money. So we try to have the perfect plan delaying until the excuses crystalize the actions of comfort.
I hope at the end of this post you know exactly what to do to get to point B and feel more comfortable.
Money is a big factor when it comes to traveling. How can I have the best experience at the most affordable cost.
Let’s start with the method of transportation. Tip: plan the trip roughly around 2 months in advance. Around this time are very affordable flights. Flight pricing fluctuates daily based on the supply and demand. So I would recommend checking everyday and comparing pricing between different platforms. I use Kayak and Google flights to crosscheck different prices. Also, Skyscanner is another resource. I love the Kayak app because you can put in the month you want to travel and it will display a calendar with green dots indicating the cheapest days to fly.
Tip: most flights you are allowed one free personal item about the size of a backpack. When I go on weekend getaways I fill my backpack up with my laptop and charging cords, one pant, one shorts, one underwear, a couple pairs of socks, and about one shirt per day spent away – about four at max. Also, the clothes you are wearing on the plane. If it’s cold put on layers, and wear the one pair of shoes you plan to have the whole trip.
Throughout the checkout process of buying a flight there will be many steps to add-on more stuff to your flight such as, extra baggage, seat selection, travel insurance, bundles. You can bypass all of that and save the money. When it comes to seat selection press continue to be given a random seat. Most of the time it will be towards the back of the plane, but sometimes you can get lucky. I was once upgraded to the second row because there wasn’t enough people on the flight!.
How I found a round trip flight from Denver to New Orleans.
Most airlines have what they call penny flights or cheap fares. At the airport go to the check-in counter, the place where you hand them your luggage. I simply asked them if they had any cheap flight for the month of February. The women at the counter worked with me to find a round trip flight for 48$ after taxes. If I never asked I would have never known. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Other methods of transportation include train, bus and car.
I have not used a train yet to travel cross country. From what I have been told is the train is pretty reliable. Some hiccups, but that’s how transportation is. A train is roomy with a good amount of space to walk about the cabin. The pricing is roughly about the same price as a flight. Some effort and I’m pretty sure you could find a cheap train.
Taking is bus is a little more reliable then a train, and roughly the same price. Depending on where you’re at there may be regional bus routes that are cheap (MegaBus, BoltBus). If you want to take a mini weekend getaway look up regional buses in your area and compare pricing. For longer distances Greyhound is a bus company that takes people long distances.
Lastly, driving yourself would be the most affordable option. Unless an accident occurs gas is really your only expense, and food along the way. Travel with four buddies and you just reduced the cost. You can travel at your own pace and explore little towns along the way. Now that you know how to get from point A to point B cheaply lets talk about cheap places to stay, hostels.
Navigate the Hostel World Landscape Efficiently
Hostels are an affordable option for finding a place to stay, unlike hotels where the cheaper the hotel the more cockroaches included. Hostels are usually less than the cheapest hotels, ranging from $10 to $50. Still $50 dollars for a top quality hostel is a lot better than your cheapest hotel.
What are hostels? If you don’t know what a hostel is think of a hotel with shared dorm style rooms. Multiple people in one room. Every hostel has their own style of shared living quarters from bunks, to cots, to mats on the floor.
How to navigate for the best fit hostel: After you have the transportation in place it is time to look for the hostel. HostelWorld is the app where I start. They make it very easy to navigate. You can look at pictures, read reviews and see the ratings of the hostel. It breaks down the price for you per room. Sometimes the hostel has an all girl room which can add some more comfort for the solo female traveler.
Personally I do not book with a hostel that has a rating lower than 9. The ratings are a really good indicator for what you are paying for. Also, the amount of reviews they have the better because that means there is something about the hostel the person enjoyed or didn’t. And you get a better understanding of the place. More often than not they are good reviews. Also, ask around. See if your friends have traveled via hostel before. When your traveling people like to recommend hostels they have stayed at before.
After you have found the hostel you want to sleep, google search and find their website. I have not come across a hostel yet in the States that doesn’t have a website. You can book through the hostel’s website directly and not have to pay the third party fee. Saving you money.
When booking a hostel look for keywords: party hostel, late nights, cash only, where the hostel is in location to local sites, staff, methods of transportation, wifi, locker/storage, towels included, minimum/maximum length of stay..
Hostels vs Hotels
Why should I stay at a hostel. If price is not a problem and you have money to spend let me try to warm you up to the other perks of a hostel. An experience: more likely to meet people with different perspectives. With everyone living so close to one another there is an added icebreaker. Sparking up a conversation with someone is easier. In a world of media that only shows negativity the reality is people are kind and learn to be mean. Humans are social animals. Cooperation is in our DNA because it use to be a survival trait for the benefit of the tribe. If someone was greedy they became isolated and survival became that much more difficult. Sorry for going geek mode🤓.
Working in a hostel I have made many friends. I see people all the time creating lasting friendships, telling stories of their travels, exchanging contact information.
As stated, this post was meant to add some comfort to the idea of travel. I have laid out the basics on how to travel efficiently in the hostel world. Here are a couple key takeaways of what was mentioned above:
- Book method of transportation first before place of stay.
- Book around 2 months in advance. Always check pricing as they fluctuate daily.
- Ask the ticket check-in at the airport for penny fares.
- Don’t buy into the bundles during checkout when buying method of transportation. Pack frugally and efficiently.
- Look for other methods of transportation: plane, train, bus, car.
- Use apps like Hostelworld to find the right hostel: rating above 9, many reviews, professional pictures of the hostel, look for keywords.
- If available, book directly through hostel website to curve third party fee.
- Be kind, make friends, make mistakes, learn, keep moving forward.
So far all the hostels I have stayed at I would recommend. This is a list of hostels I have stayed at:
- Ember Hostel (Denver, Colorado) – Private
- Drifter Jacks (Austin, Texas) – Private
- Auberge NOLA Hostel (New Orleans, Louisiana) – Private
- HI Northwest Hostel (Portland, Oregon) – Hostel Association
- Chinese District HI Hostel (Seattle, Washington) – Hostel Association
- Many more to come!
Keep Moving Forward