Hostels are a mainstay of the budget travel circuit. Share a dorm room with strangers, shave off a big percentage of your accommodation costs. They do come with some drawbacks however, as this article from The Sydney Morning Herald describes: The problem with staying in hostels.
Although for me, the “problem” the author writes about is my favorite benefit of staying in hostels: meeting other travelers. I can’t imagine how lonely my trips would have been had I opted for private rooms in hotels. As for getting distracted, I think it’s really a matter of self-control and politely saying “no.” If you only have one day left in your trip and you’re really set on visiting a certain site, then just go. There’s no shame in politely declining an offer from a fellow traveler to hang out in a pub.
I can see where he’s coming from, since I’ve encountered some of the problems he’s described, as well others that didn’t make the list. For example, people who snore. Whenever I walk into a hostel room and see 10+ beds, my heart sinks. I know the odds favor that at least one person will be a heavy snorer. Yes, I’ve also had people stumbling in late at night while drunk, or waking up insanely early to pack because they have a 6 a.m. flight. But you have to take the bad with the good.
Did you start out sleeping in hostels, but have moved up the accommodation ladder a bit? It’d be nice to stay in small guesthouses with private rooms, but still have a big common area that encourages conversation. For more discussion, you can check out this post: Three modes of travel.
How do you feel about hostels? Please share your stories in the comments.