Backpacker hostels and guesthouses are a great option for the budget traveller. They offer a cheap nightís stay at a significantly reduced rate compared to hotels in the same area. The best thing is that hostels are completely made to the demands of a backpacker. They provide simple, basic living in a comfortable, relaxed environment where youíre surrounded by like-minded people. In most circumstances (in the developed world) you will have access to a communal kitchen, lounge area with TV and of course toilets and bathrooms. You will have a choice between staying in a dormitory with other guests or a private double or single room. The dormitory is the cheapest option, however you have to be prepared to be awoken at silly hours in the morning by others sharing the room and you wonít have much privacy. Most hostel dormitories contain bunk beds so if you want a bit of privacy many backpackers usually hang their towels around their bed to create a bit of a den! However sleeping in dorms isnít all bad, itís probably the best way to meet new people and make friends.
Hostels in developing countries can be slightly different. It goes without saying that they can be incredibly cheap and the quality is, on the whole,
just as high. The main difference is that you probably wonít have a communal kitchen to cook in. But that wonít matter because dinning out is so
cheap and easy, and some hostels even provide this service themselves. You are less likely to come across dorms but private rooms are still very
cheap and even have ensuite.
Touts are a common annoyance in developing countries particularly in South East Asia and thereabouts. Most of these people work on commission and will pester tourists to go and stay at their hostel. You are most likely to encounter hostel touts at main transport links across the country, i.e. airports, bus stations, train stations and boat ports. The best way to deal with them if youíre not interested is to just say no and continue walking. However if you are interested in what theyíve got to say then feel free to view their pictures, ask where the hostel is and how far, and try and bargain a price! If you have a hostel guidebook, itís a good idea to do a bit of research before hand. Remember that if you do go with a tout and then find out the hostel is a bit of a cockroach infested dive, donít feel obliged to stay there!
In developing countries, hostels are likely to have their own travel agents who are there to help you plan your stay in the area. They are able to book tours and organise day trips and even help with booking transport to your next destination. Theyíre a great resource so use them!
In developed countries this service isnít provided quite to this level, but receptionists can provide you with great advice and tours can be booked through the hostels on some occasions. You usually book excursions directly with specialist companies or through travel agents, so you may have to do a bit of research. No doubt your hostel will have a rack full of leaflets covering all the tours in the area to help you.
Sometimes it can be a good idea to book your hostel accommodation in advance of arriving at your destination. In popular backpacking towns, cities and resorts, beds can get booked up quickly. Also, at certain times of year, particularly around Christmas and New Year and when there are sports or music events scheduled itís advisable to book several months in advance. Not only this, some hostels offer airport / bus and train station pick ups for free if you book in advance, so itís good to research this so you can save a bit of money.
We have integrated a fully comprehensive backpacker hostel guide into this site in conjunction with hostel bookers. It has full hostel descriptions and pictures of a huge selection of hostels. You can either customise your search by using the form below, or just click hereÖ
Discounted Hostel Associations
In Australia, there are several associations you can join up to in order to receive discounts on your accommodation whenever you stay at one of their backpacker hostels:
VIP - By purchasing the VIP card in Australia,
you can receive money off backpacker hostels, tours, travel and more. You will receive a small book listing all
member hostels and discounts, and you will also be eligible for discounts in New Zealand and Fiji. Membership costs
A$35 and lasts one year and you can purchase the card from VIP hostels or their website.
YHA - By joining the Youth Hostels Association you can also benefit from discounted hostels and more. It costs around A$37 for annual membership which can be purchased from YHA hostels or on their website. www.yha.com.au
Nomads - NOMADS members receive cheaper rates at NOMADS hostels, plus discounts and cheap phone calls around Australia, New Zealand, and the world. It costs $AUD34 and is available world-wide through any good travel agent, or you can use order online. www.nomadsworld.com
With these membership schemes you not only receive discounts on your hostels but you can also benefit from discounts on certain tours, transport, entry fees to museums and zoo and much more. So itís really worth considering purchasing one.
Bed bugs are the pests of the backpacking world. No doubt you will hear about them at some point on your travels if you donít encounter them directly.
They are little black bugs usually just a dot in size but they vary in size. They like to live in the corners and around the edges of mattresses, and can even be found on sofas. Australia seems to have a bit of a problem with bed bugs, mainly because being such a backpacking mecca, the bugs are easily transferred via backpacks and sleeping bags from one hostel to another.
You will know if there's an infestation if you keep waking up with new bites, usually formed in a line. It's not something to worry about as the bites fade and the majority of Australian backpacker hostels take measures to prevent infestation and spread. However, you can do your bit by not putting your backpack on the beds and using hostel linen when it's offered. If you inspect the mattress and find black around the corners and sides then itís probably infested.
You shouldnít let the worry of bed bugs ruin your plans though. Australia is really cracking down on them and hostels are very aware of the problem, so the likelihood of encountering any is still quite slim.
Here is a general list of links which can help you in your search for backpacker hostels in Australia:
Tips:In SE Asia you can stay in beach huts in coastal areas for just a little extra than a normal hostel. The experience of waking up on the beach is well worth it!
Tell us Your Backpacker Hostel Experiences and StoriesShare with us your strange or positive experiences of staying in hostels and also any tips you may have.
This is a non-profit site built by backpackers for backpackers. We hope you find this a valuable resource!
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