Why I like Hostels
They aren’t anything like Hollywood… I’m a hosteler for life.
A few years back, I got introduced to the hosteling system from my first trip abroad. I was told by everyone how shady they were and asked if I would even make it out alive. Well, I survived, and did so with a new found respect for a fantastic opportunity.
Recently, I’ve been touring Spain. It started with the Big Blog Exchange, but thanks to REAJ I have had the opportunity to extend and see a bit more of what Spain has to offer. I’ve been staying in hostels the whole time, and this experience has reminded me of why I like them so much.
I quickly learned from my initial hostel experiences that the things that make hostels wonderful are not really the nice amenities, comfortable beds, or scenic views. It is the people who you meet while staying in them. Staying in hostels gives one the opportunity to meet people from around the globe in a single place. It would be correct to say that one could find this in other places as well such as at a university or cosmopolitan city, but it just isn’t the same. Why is it different? Staying in hostels is different because there are no boundaries or limitations to interactions with other people. Unlike in a big city or university where it is not always so easy to meet these people as an outsider. In a hostel, all one has to do is say “Hello” “Hola” or “Ni Hao”. The rest is history.
A hostel is a place where people from different countries, races, and creeds can come together for a common purpose: accommodation. What ends up happening though is more than just that, it usually ends up being a place of cultural sharing. When you stay at a hostel you know that each person is on their own personal journey, rarely are two people going to the same place, but everyone is together at one instant. For some reason, you all happened to meet in one place. You share tales from home with one another, you break bread with your new friends, and you communicate in whatever ways you can. Every dinner somehow turns out being a small United Nations meeting.
Keeping this idea of cultural sharing alive. One of the more important things that I think people gain by staying in hostels is exposure. Staying in a hostel is like speed-dating around the world, except not really dating. The concept is similar though. When staying in a hostel you get exposure to people from many different countries in a short period. This gives one the opportunity to get a glimpse into different traditions and ways of life that people carry with them on the road. In hostels, I’ve met millionaires who’d rather stay in hostels to meet new people. I’ve met people who have been traveling for years, or for their first time out of the house. I’ve met families and people going solo. Rich, poor, black, white, brown, Jew, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. I have met them all.
Hostels are an unprecedented opportunity to bring the world together under one roof. At least for one night, there are no borders, no treaties, and no politics. Differences in beliefs are met by open conversation and learning. Hostels just might be one of the great cultural diplomacy projects.
Don’t forget your manners while staying at a hostel!
Do you like hostels? What is your favorite thing about hostels?