When I was booking my accommodation for Germany, all I had in mind was money. I wanted to spend my money on other things that I considered necessary, like transport costs and museum entry fees. For me, because I was only staying at each place for one or two nights, I didn’t care how bad the hostel conditions were. And now that I’ve returned from my trip, I counted that out of 19 nights, I had 8 nights in a hostel accommodation. That also meant I had 8 nights of terrible sleep. That’s almost half my trip!
My style of travelling is different to most people’s. I love waking up early, doing lots of things to completely drain my energy during the day, and then returning to my accommodation to rest at night. By the time I return to my accommodation at night, I’d be wanting to sleep at about 10pm at the latest due to physical and mental exhaustion.
But if I stayed in a hostel dormitory, every time someone comes into the room, I’d wake up. It didn’t matter if I had my headphones in and an eye mask on, I’d wake up. My hostel room in Freiburg had as many people as 11! I don’t even want to imagine how many times I woke up that night!
I admit. I’m an introvert. After a whole day of wandering around, the last thing I want to be doing is to talk to people. I hate parties because there are too many people around and the music’s always too loud. I don’t enjoy catching up with a big group of people because I never feel like I can properly catch up with anyone. For me, I don’t travel to meet new people, but as a solo traveller, people would invariably strike a conversation whether I like it or not. My main reasons for travelling is to experience moments that take my breath away, to appreciate life as it is, and to learn about different cultures.
I’m not sure if this is something that come along with the whole ‘being an introvert’ personality, but I’m also a very private person. There was a hostel I stayed at (I won’t mention where) where the shared bathroom door had a massive glass panel on it, so whoever was brushing their teeth would be able to see you in the shower… I know that’s an extreme example, but it still created some sweats.
Other than that travel disaster story, I also like not having to lock my bag every time I leave the hostel. I like not feeling self-conscious with every action I make. I like to do whatever I want whenever I want.
While I’m not a clean freak, I think both you and I know that some hostel bathrooms are (objectively) dirty. While it shouldn’t be a problem for only one or two nights, it bugged me. I sometimes went out of the hostel in the morning and still felt filthy, because even the water didn’t seem clean. One or two nights didn’t matter, but a string of one of two nights soon became a week, and pretty soon I was then preoccupied with the petty things rather than fully enjoying the beautiful sights I came across.
While not all the hostels I stayed at were horrible, there was always something that was unpredictable. It didn’t matter how many reviews I read, I was still never prepared enough for my hostel experience. While unpredictability is something that all travellers have to experience, it did get really stressful at times. Unnecessarily stressful.
So what’s the lesson?
I’ve learned that while travelling requires some sacrifices, I cannot sacrifice my #1 priority, which is sleep (You can read the article on what led me to re-evaluate my priority list here).
I’ve learned that it’s not worth it to save that dosh, but then feeling like my mental and physical energy had exacerbated each night as the trip went on. From now on, I will be careful when choosing accommodations to ensure that I’ll have a good night’s sleep. I don’t want sleep deprivation to take away the joy of my travels again.
p.s. I would highly recommend Airbnb. I had an amazing sleep at all the Airbnb’s I stayed at. On this trip, I chose hostels over Airbnb’s due to price alone. I was lucky that I travelled to quaint little towns where the only options were Airbnb or hotel, otherwise I wouldn’t have had my wonderful Airbnb experiences.