When you think of a hostel, you usually think of backpackers or students looking for a place to socialize while they travel. What you don’t think of, however, are families. People tend to assume that hostels are not suitable for family trips – they cater too much to young partiers, they’re noisy, they’re unsafe, etc… the list goes on. While these issues can be true for some hostels, in reality, the world of hostels has been expanding so much recently that cheap, dirty, party hostels are no longer the status quo. Now, hosteling is for anyone – yes, even for families!
While I don’t have a family of my own (I’m 23 and nowhere near ready for that yet), I do have numerous memories of family vacations with my parents and younger sister and brother, so I’m no stranger to the struggles of traveling as a family. While I never stayed at hostels growing up, hostels have been my accommodation of choice over the past few years, and honestly, so many of the issues that accompanied my family vacations could have been solved by staying at a hostel instead of a hotel! Here are a few reasons why hostels are great for family vacations.
#1 Everyone gets their own bed
If you’re a family of at least 3, staying at a hotel usually means renting a room with two queen beds and the accompanying hassle of sharing beds. Staying at a hostel means that you’re paying for each person to have their own bed. No more fighting over who has to share a bed with who, or who’s stealing all the blankets – your children can each have their own space with no complaints! Also, staying in a hostel usually means staying in a dorm with bunk beds. What kid doesn’t love bunk beds?
#2 Great Locations, Great Price!
One of the greatest draws of hostels are their convenience, which is why hostels tend to be located in/near the biggest hotspots of whatever city you’re travelling to. Staying in a popular area is great because there’s plenty of local culture and exciting things to do right at your fingertips, but on the down side, high popularity tends to lead to higher prices.
Hostels on average are exorbitantly cheaper than hotels, and depending on the size of the rooms at the hostel, a family of four can easily book out an entire 4-bedroom dorm for themselves. Some hostels also have private rooms available to rent, and while those may be a bit more expensive, usually they’re still a good deal in comparison with hotels.
Based on the results from Booking.com, booking a hotel room with two queen beds and breakfast included in the Taipei Main Station neighborhood would cost an average of 3500 NTD per night, whereas booking 4 dorm beds at Homey Hostel would only cost 2400 NTD per night.
Hostels know travelers are on a budget and that this may not be their only stop on a trek around the world. As a result, hostels do what they can to provide as many amenities as possible.
On-site laundry rooms (that you may have to pay $3-6 USD to use) are incredibly common in the hostel world, and make travelling with a family much more convenient. For one thing, if you can wash your clothes halfway through the trip, you don’t have to pack nearly as much. For another, if you’re travelling with younger children who are prone to spills and messes, no worries! There’s a space for you to clean messy clothing at the end of the day.
Most hostels also have kitchen areas that allow you to cook while on vacation. Cooking is an extremely budget friendly approach to meal time in general, especially when you’re cooking for several people. Having a kitchen available makes preparing simple meals incredibly convenient and will save you several headaches if you’re traveling with picky eaters.
#4 Free Breakfast
Who doesn’t like saving money on at least one meal a day? As well as being overall affordable, many hostels also offer free breakfast! Hostelworld even has filters that allow you to find the best hostels with free breakfast. These free breakfasts will most likely be relatively simple (Homey’s free breakfast consists of toast and rice congee with several topping options), but they’ll still be enough to give your day a healthy start!
#5 Endless Resources for Entertainment
Hostels offer a number of free/low cost activities that are fun for the whole family, which makes figuring out how to entertain your family that much easier. From offering free tours of the area (for example, Homey offers a free food tour every Monday and a guided hike up Elephant Mountain every Friday), to hosting local events, hostels are almost always guaranteed to be hubs of activity. Even if your hostel doesn’t have any tours or events of their own, the hostel staff is help set up tours for you and hostel employees are veritable encyclopedias of information about local sights and fun things to do.
Additionally, many hostels will offer their guests discounts on popular local attractions. For example, a ticket to visit the Taipei 101 observatory usually costs 510 NTD, but if you stay at Homey Hostel, you can buy the same ticket for only 410 NTD!
#6 Social Atmospheres
No matter how much you love your family, sometimes you need a break. Luckily there are plenty of other people in the hostel for you to socialize with! Travelers usually stay at hostels precisely because of their social atmosphere, and it’s easy to make friends from around the world just by hanging out in the common area. Most staff members are usually happy to chat and hang out with the guests as well – as long as they don’t have any work to do at the moment!
#7 Help your children become more culturally aware and open minded
Talking to numerous people from different places is a great way to help your children become open-minded humans and learn about the world from a young age. No matter where you are, you’re guaranteed to meet people from at least two other countries during your stay. From practicing languages to having in depth discussions about cultural differences to learning games from another person’s country, staying in a hostel is not only fun and social, but also educational! Meeting people from other places and other cultures is a great way to learn more about the world and more about the people you’re travelling with as well.
#8 Best way to not waste a vacation sitting in the hotel room watching TV all day
Every hotel I’ve stayed at had a TV in the room, making it easy to fall into my normal binge watching habits with a healthy dose of guilt that I’m not exploring more. At hostels however, I’ve never seen a TV in the bedrooms, thus forcing me to find entertainment elsewhere.
If you’re trying to get your children (as I am trying to get my inner child) to reduce their screen time, staying at a hostel can help. Some hostels may have a TV in the common area, but even then, you’re sharing the TV with multiple other people in a social environment.
Even so, hostels usually have so much other cool stuff in their common areas, that the TV is the least popular attraction. For example, Homey Hostel has plenty of things to entertain your children from a foosball table to a piano to board and card games. It’s not hard to find someone to play with you either!
#9 Hostels offer more than just a room to sleep in
It’s hard to underappreciate the amount of space hostels offer their guests. Hostels usually have at least one general common area for you to chill and relax in as well as your room, providing a perfect separation for people seeking different energy levels.
For example, I know many arguments broke out on my previous family vacations because I wanted to take a nap while my brother and sister wanted to play a loud card game, and it was nearly impossible to reach a compromise in the limited amount of space a hotel room provides. The variety of areas available in a hostel to hang out in can let everyone have as much space as they need… nappers can stay in the room and those with more energy can stay active in the common area without bothering each other too much!
#10 A lot of the times staff like having kids around!
Having lived at Homey Hostel for the past five months, I love when kids come in! They bring a specific type of energy to the hostel, and create a different atmosphere then the typical 20-40 something crowd staying at hostels. Many travelers have children (their own, nieces, nephews, children of friends, etc.) in their lives back home, and since travelling means being away from them, it can be nice to have a fresh young face around to dote on. Most guests stay on their best behavior once they see that a kid is around and will do their utmost to be courteous to a family during their stay.
(Disclaimer: If you do stay at a hostel with your children, don’t automatically assume that having a lot of people around means you get a free babysitting service. There have been a few times where a parent has let their 3-year-old child run around climbing on our furniture unsupervised, and it makes the staff anxious. If you really need a babysitter, please ask first! Someone will likely be willing to help watch your child, but at the same time, we aren’t a daycare service, so please don’t automatically assume that we can.)
* * * * *
Honestly, making this list, I wish I had been able to stay in hostels as a child!
Of course, if you are going to stay in a hostel with children, do your research first. Many hostels nowadays serve primarily as low budget accommodation as opposed to party destinations, but that doesn’t mean every hostel is suitable for children. Check the description and the reviews before booking to get a sense of the hostel’s vibe. As a general rule, if the hostel boasts that it’s located in a city’s bar area (or in the case of a hostel I visited in London, has it’s very own pub on the first floor), you can safely assume that it’s going to have more of a late night party atmosphere.
Along with families, another demographic that is surprisingly well suited for staying at hostels are students. Stay tuned next week for reasons why living at a hostel while you study abroad will make your experience all the more worthwhile!
Until next time,
Your favorite Homey LTR, Angie
Interested in staying at Homey Hostel? Check out our website and social media!