After having such a nice hotel stay I’ve realized more of the differences between the hostel stays. I assume most people reading and following my blog have never really experienced living in a hostel. A hostel is certainly a budget accommodation with a different standard of living. They have different room options – shared rooms that are single sex or even coeds of 4 person ranging up to 12 people or private rooms. They each cost around $20 a night. They have lots of people living in them looking for work or just traveling. I wouldn’t say that I have completely enjoyed it, but it has been an experience that I would like to share.
From my stays in a few different hostels I’ve learned that they are each different. The hostel in Sydney was probably the hardest for me due to the lack of sleep. Ann and I booked the private double room at Maze Backpackers. We figured would keep our safe stuff and offer that security. Unfortunately in exchange, the hostel common area was right outside our door which meant people were outside our room drinking, cooking, or socilaizing until late. Then the people on the street were right outside of our window doing the same thing all night. The matresses were the worst part – you could feel the springs poking through! The combination of the noise and the bed made for a really rough’s night sleep.
Melbourne’s hostel, Elephant Backpackers, had some differences. The kitchen area was downstairs and it was so busy as a gathering spot. People brought drinks and cards and hung out at the tables passing the time. The room didn’t have walls connecting to the ceiling so you could hear the neighboring room. The beds were at least comfortable and I was able to sleep.
I only stayed in a hostel in Surfer’s Paradise and Noosa for a night so I wasn’t integrated enought to share details but they were both decent stays.
After my study abroad program in Auckland, I stayed in XBase in the CBD. This was a comfortable hostel but had some weird aspects. I stayed there for 5 nights in a 4 person shared room. Over the days I had people moving in and out everyday. The weirdest part was that the room didn’t have windows so I would wake up at 10 thinking it was the middle of the night.
With our HWSUC group course, we stayed at the YHA in Wellington and YMCA in Auckland. These were the nicest and cleanest accommodations we stayed at. We shared rooms with others in our group and had field trips and lectures during the day so we didn’t interact much with the backpackers or hostel.
The structure between all of the hostels is all very similar. The hostels are usually convieniently located in the CBD near public transportation. There’s always a group of people outside smoking.
Within the hostel, there is a main check in area and bag storage area. There are floors with private doubles or shared rooms of different sizes with bunks. The kitchen areas have communal utensils and cooking supplies but you keep your food labeled in storage bags with your name, room number, and departure date. The staff must routinely go through and clean out old food and you have to trust that no one else will steal your food. Lots of people eat noodles – like cups of noodles or ramen because they are so cheap. I’ve seen people eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’m sure they are sick of them but they are for budgets. The other amenities are also shared. The bathrooms are usually one or two per floor. You definitely want shower flip flops to wear otherwise it’s not like you’re even showing. Within the hostel there is a Wireless network, usually Global Gossip, which is a pay per time or usage system. The rates vary from place to place but it’s usually worth going to find the free wifi.
What they all have in common is the backpackers lifestyle. This is a really friendly, open personality that they are always looking to talk to and meet new people. Most of the people staying are on work visas looking to work and travel in a foreign country. Except what I’ve found is that the ones who haven’t found a job are the ones living in the hostel, while the ones who found work have moved into flats – at least, that’s what I’ve found.
It’s been a good experience staying in a hostel in a city. It’s not a lifestyle I would exactly want to continue with but it was an efficient way to travel on a student budget. It will certainly work being in Fiji where I will just be hanging out on the beach for a few days then taking an island tour. I’ll be staying at Bamboo Backpackers in Fiji which has been the least expensive of all of them ($8 Fijian about $4 American a night!)