As a backpacker, a hostel is a home, it is the constant and the reliable in between the chaos of travel. You know the nationalities of the people sleeping beside you in the dorm room way before you ever learn their name, you wade through accents and languages different from your own and connect with amazing people you would have never had the opportunity to meet otherwise. In a hostel, your difference is noticed and appreciated, you are welcomed into a community.
When I think back on my travels, I need to consider the places that based me and the impact they had on my experience. I think of all the bad hostels that gave me the opportunity to bond with other dissatisfied guests, I think of the good hostels that allowed me to rest after a day filled with exploration, but mostly I think of the amazing hostels that not only gave me a bed, but truly gave me a home, if only for a night or two. I remember nights spent awake just talking to people so very different from me, all of us resisting sleep in order to keep the moment alive. I remember being a solo traveler offered a friendly invitation to connect wrapped up in a smile. I remember the moments and people that live in these buildings dotted around the world, the things you could never get from a hotel.
Whoever you are, for whatever reason you are traveling, choose a hostel. Choose a hostel to meet people that see the world the same way that you do and to meet people that don’t, to speak to someone in a language you don’t know, to become part of an energy that is made from everybody’s differences and similarities all mashed together.
Stay in a hostel, stay in a hostel, stay in a hostel. I can’t say it enough times.