Are you looking to start traveling on a budget? Do you find hotels too expensive? Well, hostels are your best bet if you’ve answered yes to both questions. Hostel dorms can be as low as 10 USD per person. In a few weeks, I will be backpacking West African countries. If I may go by some of the things I have read on the internet, West Africa is one of the hardest regions to backpack especially because the only French I know is the one in “Excuse my French.” Since I am a budget traveller, I am looking to stay in hostels which are rather difficult to find in West Africa. Anyone got any suggestions of cool hostels in West Africa? The other option could be airbnbs but for now I am hoping to find hostels. West Africa is proving to be a hard nut to crack.
Hostels, for those that might not know, are establishments which provide inexpensive food and accomodation for travellers. Most hostels are decent, and the ideal place to meet other travelers. I have been backpacking for quite sometime now, and most of the travelers I have met in hostels are white. In fact, in Lilongwe I got a “Hey you are so white” from a Malawian I had met at Mabuya Camp. This statement made me conclude that either Africans hate hostels or they do not backpack Africa often. I’m yet to find an answer.
Anyway, I digress, if you like me, want to travel but you cannot afford luxury hotels, hostels may be your best bet. Here are some things you should know when staying in a hostel:
Check the hostel’s star rating
What are people saying about the hostel online? Are most people complaining? Are they talking about bugs and things that make you cringe? That is a red flag. Do not stay there no matter how stunning it looks online. I always use tripadvisor to check how fellow travelers rate a place. However, do not expect a perfect rating. If only 2 out of 10 people say bad things about a particular place, then maybe it’s not that bad.
Consider room options
Are you going to sleep in a dorm and share a room with other travelers? Or are you going to be in a private room that is more expensive? Both these options have pros and cons. It will be up to you to decide which option suits your budget and your personality. If you are on a very tight budget, obviously a dorm will be the best option.
Dorm room etiquette
Should you choose to stay in a dorm, it will do you well to remember you might be sharing the room with 6 or more other people depending on the room’s capacity.If you come in late, do not turn on the lights . If you have an early morning, pack your clothes the previous night to avoid waking up the rest with rustling bags at 5am!
Meet people, Make friends
So what if you are the only black person in that hostel? Yeah. Been there. I was a solo traveler and I could not risk having bad breath from not talking to people. It’s part of the experience. I made acquaintances from various parts of the world, talked to workers at the hostel and in the process I got a lot of travel tips about the areas I was visiting. Meeting people is part of the travel experience, make the most of it.
- Consider the following amenities are provided before booking a hostel:
- Wifi which is important for updating friends and families about your whereabouts
- Laundry facilities especially if you will be on the road for a while
- A kitchen tocook your own meals to cut costs
- Lockers are very important especially in shared dorms to keep your items and valuables safe
- A hostel bar which makes it easier to meet other travelers
Lastly, beware of your surroundings. Hostels are great and cheap places to meet like minded travelers but bad things have happened and may happen.