My husband and I did a trip around the world in 2010 and we were on a pretty tight budget of US$85* per day on average for food, lodging, local transportation and sightseeing. That budget did not including airfares. In expensive countries we spent US$125* per day, and in cheaper countries we spent US$65 per day to average it out. In Australia and New Zealand it meant we had to stay in rock bottom accommodations…hostels.
Neither Bob nor I traveled extensively when we were young so we had never stayed in a hostel. Our thought was they are all dorms for young people. We were a bit hesitant to give it a go. New Zealand was our first country where staying in a hostel was a necessity of our budget. In New Zealand they call them backpackers rather than hostels and we were surprised to know they all have private rooms as well as dorm rooms. In fact, most of the backpackers we stayed in were closer to a B&B (without the breakfast included) than anything like a dorm. We also stayed at several in Australia although they weren’t quite as nice as New Zealand’s.
Most surprising was the variety of ages staying at hostels; everything from families with youngsters to senior citizen couples. There was actually never a time when things got too noisy or rowdy. On the contrary, we extended our stay at several places because they were so beautiful and peaceful. We stayed at a hostel in Mt. Cook National Park and had a full view of the peaks from our picture window…we could not have asked for any better place to stay for 3 nights!
The site we find most helpful is www.hostelworld.com. For us, the best feature is to read the reviews and see the reviewer’s age…if there are reviews from mostly 20 year olds who loved the place, we pass; but if it is a favorite among older travelers we book it. We’ve been steered wrong a time or two but for the most part the hostels have been at least as nice as we expected if not better in some cases.
When the budget dictates to travel and stay at hostels, or not travel at all…pick a great hostel and have fun!*The budget was for 2 of us, NOT per person.