- Current Age?
- Where do you live now?
Nashville, Tennessee, USA
- When it comes to travel accommodation (but leaving out crashing with friends, family or people you meet on the road), how often do you stay in hostels?
pretty much all the time
- Where have you hosteled?
- Would you stay in a hostel again on future trips?
- Why or why not?
Most hostels are surprisingly clean, quiet, and safe and for about $12-15 a night. You can't beat the price. It's also probably one of the best ways to meet other solo travelers and get information about areas where you're traveling.
- Out of all your experiences hosteling, what was your:
- Best Moment
- Worst Moment
- Biggest Hurdle, Obstacle or Difficulty?
- Biggest surprise?
- Best Moment
- Do you ever book any of your hostel accommodation in advance?
- Why or why not?
If I'm going to a place where I expect finding a room will be difficult (during high season for instance), I'll book in advance. If I'm going to a more remote area in low season, I like to have the flexibility to either linger in one place or move on. There is usually no problem getting a bed in low season anywhere.
- Who is the most memorable person you met in a hostel and why?
My friend Nacho, who I met at the Aille River hostel in Doolin, Ireland. I became fast friends with him and his girlfriend Charlotte. We met up again for lunch in Galway and then again for a day hike in County Wicklow, south of Dublin. That was a beautiful trail and a very memorable afternoon and I hadn't planned that at all. We went there at his suggestion.
- Why do you stay in hostels, as opposed to other types of accommodation?
There are two basic reasons I stay in hostels, and price isn't the primary reason. Although you can't find any more-affordable accomodations, the best benefit of hostels is the environment you find there. You meet so many people who are all so friendly and adventurous, share travel tales with them, go on day trips together, have dinner together, and hopefully keep in touch with after you're home. How could you ever expect to have that experience when you're staying at a hotel?
- Is there a hostel you'd recommend to other travelers? If so, what is it and where?
Oliver St. John Gogarty, Dublin, Ireland
- What is the biggest myth people have about hostels and hosteling?
I have to pick one? There are many myths. That they're not safe, not clean, you have no privacy, you have lockouts and curfews, you have to be a 'youth'. First of all, despite the misnomer, you don't have to be under a certain age to stay at most hostels. Most hostels have also done away with lockouts and curfews. There are some that still do, but plenty that don't; ask before you book.
Cleanliness is the biggest variable, but most places I've stayed at have been acceptable to exceptional. There aren't many places that look like the jock dorms at college.
Although I'd never dismiss someone's concern about safety, I've never felt unsafe staying in a hostel. I'm usually not even concerned about locking up my stuff, even with expensive cameras in my bags. There seems to be a traveler's credo, a sort of honor system among travelers, that you don't mess with someone else's stuff and you look out for your fellow travler.
Most hostels have shared dorms, with 6 to 10 bunks, usually mixed sex. However, if you have to change, again there seems to be an unspoken credo, no one looks in your direction as you're changing. Other people in the room seem to have a sense of when to give you your private time. Most of the time you'll have the room to yourself anyway, since most people don't travel only to hang out in a hostel dorm all day.
- Why do you like to travel?
In my four years of college (OK, five and a half) I never learned so much about history, culture, geography, economics, world governments, or sociology as I did when I started traveling. This is a big world and there are so many places, people, and cultures to see and learn about. Reading a book can only teach you so much. By being there you not only learn something, you experience it. You can see it, hear it, feel it, smell it (sometimes), and taste it (hopefully something tasting good).
Traveling also takes you out of your comfort zone and forces you to be stronger, more independent, more resourceful, more patient, and more cooperative. It gives you empathy and a concern for others and has a way of rearranging your priorities. I just couldn't imagine losing my cool over a chip in my car's paint after seeing kids in Calcutta begging for food.
- What is your advice for other travelers wanting to stay in hostels?
Do it, but check them out before you go to know something about the hostel you plan to stay in. Some hostels are huge and impersonal, some are small and quaint. Some hostels cater to a loud, party crowd, some cater to a hippy crowd, some cater to the quiet trekker type. Finding a good hostel is really a matter of finding one that matches your personality.