It’s always good to look at a variety of accommodation options when backpacking, where ever in the world you are. That is, after all, how myself and many other people came across hostels, when they looked at hotels and thought there must be something cheaper… For most people, if they have friends who live in a city, they will usually try to take the opportunity to stay with them as opposed to staying in a hostel. There are many advantages to doing this, but I wanted to take a closer look to find out what they are, and to see if there are any negative aspects too.
Staying with friends is free. Hostels cost money. It’s therefore easy to see who wins on cost for this one. It is important however to take into consideration extra costs that may come into play when staying with friends. These could include extra transport costs if they live far out from the city centre. Also, you usually get things like free breakfast in a hostel. You may or may not be expected to organise and buy your own meals/food at a friend’s house. Then there is also the fact that you should really make them or buy them dinner if you are staying at their place for free, which can cost money to buy groceries or for the meal out. Just something to be aware of, and take into consideration.
This one is going to be determined entirely on where your friends live. I’ve stayed with friends who have had great central locations next to all the main transport links and entertainment. Other times I’ve been staying out in the sticks somewhere. Being outside the tourist areas at a friend’s house can have it’s advantages in that you’ll see another side to a destination you may not have otherwise, however hostels tend to have great locations for all your amenities, so it really just depends what type of location you prefer.
If you’re staying with friends you know well, then 9 times out of 10 you’re going to feel like you’re completely at home. You can lounge on the couch in your PJ’s, you don’t need to check out early like you would at a hostel, and you’ll have a proper bathroom to use not a shower cubicle, like you would have in most hostels. That’s not to say you can’t feel completely at home or comfortable in a hostel. I’ve stayed in many which have been fantastic in that respect, but staying with good friends does add that comfort element that some hostels don’t.
Meeting new people
I always meet new people when I’m staying at a hostel. There are always going to be people, either in your dorm room, the common rooms, kitchen, hostel bar, or elsewhere at the hostel that come from all different countries and walks of life. Most times I’ve stayed with friends I’ve also met new people, usually their friends or family, which has also been a really cool and rewarding experience. With a hostel though, you are guaranteed to meet new people almost everyday. You will meet less crashing at your friend’s house, but the question is not so much about numbers, but who’s company you enjoyed most. For that, it really just depends entirely on the place, time, and the people!