The Hostel Experience While Travelling

Stephen F. Dennstedt

The hostel experience while travelling can save you money. Hey—we’re not the youngest guys on the road these days and we can be a little cranky and irritable at times. You wouldn’t think we would be the type to stay in youth-oriented hostels.

And for the most part you would be right. We like our quiet time and solitude but we also travel on a budget and like saving money. And frankly the hostels today aren’t really the 1960s hostels of yesteryear. They are much more accommodating.

For the most part they are still geared towards the young (18 to 35-year-old), backpackers and adventure travellers. Joel and I call ourselves world trekkers because we are—we carry our homes on our backs (a rucksack) and our offices along side of us (for me it’s a sturdy, waterproof hard Pelican 1510 photography case and for Joel it’s a duffel). Occasionally we’ll see fellow travellers in our age group staying in a hostel but it’s a rare occurrence. Mostly the oldsters and tourists stay in hotels or boutique B&Bs for privacy and comfort—most don’t like shared sleeping quarters and bathrooms.

Our Beds with Privacy Curtains and Secured Lockers Underneath

Right at this moment Joel and I are holed up in a six-bed mixed dorm room but we’re the only ones in the room. There was one other grumpy old geezer in the room when we arrived yesterday but he has since checked out so we have the entire room all to ourselves. In essence we have a private room at hostel dormitory prices which are cheaper than hotel rooms on average. As I’ve mentioned before hostels usually offer a few private rooms (often with a private bath) for little more than two persons staying in a dorm. So for two or three dollars more per person you can get a private room versus a dorm room.

Each Bed with Electrical: Power, USB Ports and Night-Light

In this hostel the private rooms are quite a bit more expensive and they had all been booked so we opted for a dorm room. But like I said we have it all to ourselves at least for the moment so it’s like having a private room anyway. The bunks all have privacy curtains and complete electrical hookups: power outlets, USB ports and even a night-light (see photos). The in-room wi-fi is free as is the morning breakfast (Continental: coffee, juice, porridge, assorted cold cereals, breads, milk & butter). Simple fare but nutritious, filling and good for the American waistline.

Kitchen Area at Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel

The pros to staying in a hostel include: affordable budget-friendly prices, room availability, free services including breakfast, typically great locations, friendly staff, help with arranging convenient day tours and a relaxed vibe. Also meeting fellow travellers at mealtime and in the common areas to talk and share travel experiences. The cons include: a lack of privacy, sharing bathroom facilities (especially for us older folks) and sometimes (not always) a higher level of noise. Young people like to party and drink and return to their rooms early in the morning (1 a.m. to 2 a.m.).

Kinlay Eyre Square Hostel at Night

Also when sharing facilities you find not all people are created equal—there are some real uncouth inconsiderate slobs in this world of international travel. There is also a natural tension between generations (the old versus the young) but on the whole we’ve met some really outstanding younger people who have become friends. We continually remind ourselves to keep an open mind, stay flexible and go with the flow. Some hostels advertise themselves as party hostels so stay away from those unless you’re willing to party. If you’ve never stayed at a hostel maybe it’s time give one a try. Just saying.

Field Notes: The weather forecast for Galway this morning calls for a modest temperature of 7°C/45°F with winds at 7 mph and very little chance of rain until around 3 p.m. or later. We’ll be stepping out for our first Galway walkabout in about thirty minutes and hopefully I can get some nice shots with my camera. Also, we’ll probably checkout the day tours downstairs sometime today and arrange for something early next week. County Galway definitely has some terrific sights to see and we want to take full advantage of the opportunity during our two-week stay here. SFD


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