The Do’s and Don’ts of Hostels

Oh hostels… how wonderfully cheap and wonderfully disgusting you are. Just kidding, but really… As a college student preparing myself for the¬†imminent amounts of debt I’m looking forward to, I had to strategically plan out how I was going to cheaply sleep in Italy. I’ve heard of couch surfing, but my paranoid mind said NO, which I regret… but my budget still said yes to Hostels! Here’s a list of what you should and should NOT do when your booking hostels, approaching your hostel, determining features, and events at your hostel.

Please DO these things:

 

  1. Use the Hostelworld App to book your hostel. This app is soooooooooo easy to use. You literally look up the city you’re going to as well as the dates you need and it pops up like 100 options for places to choose from and they aren’t just hostels. They show you hostels, hotels and campsites to book with. With only 1-2 clicks later, your hostel is booked!
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  1. Please be PICKY when choosing your hostel. Just because it’s the cheapest option doesn’t mean its the best or worst.
  2. Look at the features: In the app it shows what the hostel provides for you under the “facilities” tab. It tells you what is offered for free like Wifi or maps, they’re general accommodations like AC and heaters, the services they offer like housekeeping, luggage storage and internet access, their food and drink options, and an entertainment section incase this hostel comes with a bar or restaurant!
  3. Read the reviews THOROUGHLY. Sometimes hostels will claim they’re close to downtown, and the reviews will say “I had to take a damn taxi everyday because this place is so far away!” or you will see a dozen reviews saying there’s no hot water. It’s because it’s TRUE. Listen to reviews.
  4. Pick a hostel close to downtown. You will save money by not having to get that “damn taxi” every day and be able to just step outside, walk a few blocks and see the Trevi Fountain. It’s a good investment.
  5. If your looking for a fun night life hostel check out the events and night life they offer. Some have bars and some do events like “Tuesday Night bar hopping for only $25 in Rome come join the fun!” I did something like this and it was a night to remember.
  6. Please bring your own towel on your trip. So many of the hostels I booked I had to buy a towel rental for the time I was there. Unlike the U.S. where every hotel you go to offers towels, I never read anything on something like this in Italy so I didn’t pack one. Hostels will charge you so bring your own.
  7. EVERY SINGLE ROOM I SLEPT IN HAD ONE PERSON WHO SNORED ALL NIGHT. BRING EARPLUGS. PLEASE. I BEG YOU.
  8. Bring your own cleaning supplies. Just some clorox wipes for your trip will change your hostel bathroom. These bathrooms can sometimes be soooo disgusting. Wipe down your toilet seat and don’t walk in their barefoot haha.

Please DO NOT do these things:

  1. Don’t leave your toiletries in the room. Bring your shampoos into the shower, and then put them back in your bag when your done.
  2. Don’t leave your bag unlocked EVER. Your roommates may be nice, but just for extra safety precaution, always lock it.
  3. Following up with the last one, don’t use their safety lockers. You don’t really need to if you have locks on your bag. It’s just a waste of money.
  4. Do not be disrespectful to your roommates. Silence phones and laptops. Don’t bring anyone in there to sleep with because well… you have an audience? And don’t take up all the space. Don’t throw your clothes and trash everywhere.
  5. Do not research what the free breakfast entails. Sometimes a free breakfast to them is cereal or toast. One hostel had cocoa puffs and bread with Nutella for their “free breakfasts”. I mean I guess it’s not that bad…
  6. Do not expect to pay with card every time. I had a couple places say “whoops cash only!” and I would have to use their stupid ATM that charged me an extra couple euros just to pull out some cash.

 

Using hostels on my trip to Italy was a one of a kind experience. I have some great stories that tells how I made friends around the world. Like the crazy Prague girls who I peed in the bathroom with and these New Zealand guys who we talked in the lobby with every night about the coolest things that are different in New Zealand compared to the U.S. I have some horror stories like my boyfriend puking all night and keeping everyone awake, this old guy who came into our room at 2am and smelled like death, and the hostel that had no A.C. so mosquitos came and bit us all night for having the windows open. Stuff like this are things we laugh about now, but in the moment we wish we did some things differently.

I hope all your hostel stories stay fun and safe! Happy travels xxx

 

How To Get Cheap International Flights

Yes. The secret formula exists. It is true.

After researching and researching and researching a kajillion articles on Google, Pinterest and Facebook I read multiple different answers to the question “When are international flights the cheapest?” It was frustrating. So I tested it myself.

I used Expedia to help me with this – they compare hundred of flights to find you the cheapest and fastest route for you. All the articles said, “6 months before your trip! 2 months before your trip! 6 weeks before your trip!” I didn’t know who to believe. I didn’t want to risk to buy my ticket at the 6 month price only to find out it’s cheaper at 2 months.

Here’s what I learned: I stumbled upon some great information from an article on Pinterest one day. (I wish I could find it but it’s hidden somewhere deep in the internet haha) That the day you buy your ticket and the day you choose to fly out MATTERS.

They claimed that buying your ticket on a Tuesday and flying out on a Saturday is the most cheapest ticket you can get.

So I tested it. I went on Expedia that day (A Sunday I believe) and made it to where I flew out on a Saturday. It was still the same price.

The next day (Monday) I checked it again to fly out on Saturday and it was still the same price. When I checked it on Tuesday it was like $200 cheaper! I went ahead and did the rest of the week and sure enough Tuesday was the magic day that makes your tickets cheaper!

So knowing this information I kept an eye on my ticket price as the year went by. When it hit 6 months my $1400 ticket to Italy was still $1400, so I don’t know what that article was claiming. eye roll

I checked it once a month after that to test the theory: When is the best time to buy your ticket?

At 5 months it was the same. At 4 months it came down to $1100. I was skeptical to buy it… but I waited.

Ladies and gentlemen… At 3 months: In MAY, 2016 the round trip ticket price for Italy went down to $850!!! I immediately bought it the night I saw it. I didn’t want to risk and wait any longer and see the price go back up. I was so happy I saved $550!

So the secret formula is…

  • 3 MONTHS BEFORE YOUR TRIP.

  • BUY ON A TUESDAY.

  • FLY OUT ON SATURDAY.

You’re probably wondering… What if it’s cheaper at 2 months or 1 month? I tested this theory and¬†the price sadly goes back up. At two months it goes up to $1000, and at one month it goes up to $1200.

Another factor is the time of year. I bought during high tourist season where Italy is super busy during the summer months of June-August. I just checked it again (for it being November) and flying out 3 months ahead in February and the price was $817! When flying internationally ALWAYS use this method. Save your money and spend it on more important things you can be doing on your trip. You won’t regret it.