5 Survival Tips For Extended Travel On A Budget

Malik Betton
Aug 31 · 4 min read

II f you ask me, staying at a hostel beats a hotel any day. Even the most fanciest luxury hotel can't compare to a 7/10 hostel. Hostels offer lesser-priced, personable housing where patrons can rent a room in a dormitory, normally a bunk bed, and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be blended or single-sex, as well as private. Most hostels, depending on location, offer rooms for less than $20 USD per night, and some really good ones are as low as $8. Typically the age range is 18 to late 20s, but even older travelers are hip to the game. Yeah there are some pretty terrible places out there, but they’re easy to spot online. Trying to ball out and flex on instagram is just not worth it. You can save so much money and have a much more rewarding trip in the long run. Feeling nervous? Here are a five tips to surviving in a hostel.

1. Do A Work Exchange

I could repeat this tip over and over, but it still wouldn’t be enough. Work exchanges are the sh*t! Some might wonder why anyone would opt to work on vacation. Maybe to them that defeats the purpose. Well, no. There are a lot of hostels that only require two hours of cleaning (which can typically be done in 45 minutes) and in exchange you get free lodging. As of writing I’m at a hostel in Jerusalem working the front desk for the night shift, 11pm to 7am, and not only am I getting free lodging, I’m getting paid ₪70 NIS ($19.83)— AND I’m allowed to sleep! $20 isn't a lot, but it's more that most people earn in their sleep. This is such an excellent way to save money for other parts of my journey or even add to the emergency fund.

2. Cook Your Own Food

Food is food is food. Not all food is created equally, but the majority of it it is the same. You can probably guess that I’m not a foodie. What makes hostels even more attractive is access to a shared kitchen. You can save a ton by buying and cooking your own food and you’ll have extra money for the real star of any location, dessert. Speaking of shared kitchens…

3. Label Your Food!!!

If all else fails, hide your food. Put it in the back of the fridge or on the highest shelf. Your new friend Greg will smile in your face, and will be up rummaging through your cookies at two in the morning. Enough said.

4. Don’t Be Lax About Your Hygiene

New environment, new people, new germs. It doesn't matter how clean a hostel is, there are always germs, and there will always be a sick person, or a recently sick person. People are coming from all different parts of the globe through various means of transportation and they are bringing every single germ (and bed bug and flea) they have come into contact with along the way. I know you may not have the energy to shower after a long day out, but it is a must. Hygiene not only includes a daily shower and washing your hands, but it includes laundry, changing your sheets daily, and washing your dishes, before and after use. I've seen people in hostels simply rinse a glass after use, so yes, wash your dishes before using. Good health requires vigilance.

5. Socialize

Socializing is by far the best part of staying in a hostel. I have met some of the most interesting people from all corners of the globe, and by living with them for even just a few days we have created bonds and friendships that span continents and social economic barriers. Also, hanging out with new people at hostels will often get you out exploring and participating in tours and events that you would normally skip out on.

And so, I hope this list serves you well, and maybe you’ve reconsidered that pricey hotel you’ve been looking at. Be adventurous. Hostel living might not be for everyone, but it’s well worth a try. Either way, happy travels, and I hope you make the best of wherever you choose to stay.


Malik Betton

Written by

Currently backpacking the Middle East. I write about things you can do to add value to your life coupled with stories about my own. MalikBetton@gmail.com

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