Over the past year, I have checked in to over 30 different hostels and I frequently get questions about my experience. Are hostels safe? Am I ever nervous when traveling alone? I usually explain that hostels are not as scary as they sound, and can be a great way to meet people and stick to a budget. While all of this is true, I do agree that special considerations need to be made when you are a female navigating solo.
- Location, location, location! This might seem like a no-brainer but a central location is usually the pricier option. However, this could mean saving money on transportation to local attractions, restaurants, and supermarkets. A lot of hostels even provide a free shuttle to the closest airport or bus station. Keep in mind that a busy hostel means more people to socialize with and a safer environment to explore. Don’t get stuck in a bad location just to save a few bucks!
- Sorry guys, I prefer all female dorms! I’ve never felt uncomfortable in a mixed dorm, but I have been kept up all night by loud snoring. This may not always be the case but every time it happened to me, it was a guy! If you are a heavy sleeper, then there’s no real reason to avoid them. Mixed dorms tend to be cheaper and provide more opportunity to interact with both genders. Do keep in mind that there are always tradeoffs, as a room full of women might take longer in a single bathroom.
- Not all hostels or their amenities are created equal! Does it have a pool or a badass communal area with a ping-pong table? I’m personally a sucker for free bike rentals and a continental breakfast. As a female, you might be particularly happy to learn that most provide hair dryers. Even if they aren’t readily available in the bathroom I would ask the front desk, someone is always leaving one behind to lighten their load.
- Always check ratings and reviews! I diligently check the websites and pages of the hostels I’m considering. Most sites are rated on things like security, cleanliness, value, facilities, and location. I would also look at reviews that specifically reference female or solo travelers. A well-rounded hostel will have a fun environment to meet people but also be a clean and secure place rest your head at night. For ratings and reservations check out hostelworld.com, it’s my personal favorite.
- Be open! I would encourage you to be open to new experiences and unexpected people. I found that putting myself out there, allowed me to say yes to day trips that I would have never explored on my own. Look for hostels that have planned activities, meetups, and bar crawls for similar solo travelers. I’ve met some lifelong friends navigating the world of hostels; I hope you are lucky enough to share in that experience.
There are a million other articles out there reminding you to bring a luggage lock (which I would also advise), but I wanted to give some tips that I had to learn on my own. I hope these help can help you on your journey and possibly inspire you to take your first solo trip abroad. Always remember to trust your instincts and you will find the world of hostels to be an amazing place. Safe travels and happy hosteling!
Included below are some of my favorite pictures from my time in Byron Bay, a magical beach town in southeast Australia. Pictured are friends I met in Sydney and ended up staying with at the Backpackers Holiday Village hostel last Thanksgiving.