When people think of hostels, they generally think horror movies or college dorms. I beg to differ, from personal experience. I want people to get a better idea of dorms in hostels from a female traveler or backpacker’s perspective.
I do not always stay in hostels, especially if I cannot find a female vacant dorm bed. I refuse to stay in mixed, or co-ed, dorms; although some people really do not mind. Mixed dorms are much cheaper. Most hostels have female dorms, male dorms, mixed dorms, and private rooms (think simplified hotel rooms). A lot of time, friends traveling together, or couples, will stay in mixed dorms. As a solo traveler, who is a female, I always find comfort in female dorms though. I only stayed in a mixed dorm once, $6 per bed per night, and the dorm roommates were nice; still, not my thing. I felt uncomfortable in mixed dorms. People are still very respectful for your space and all, but I prefer female dorms for the reasons below:
1. Female dorms tend to have a lot of solo travelers, so you make friends easily with other solo travelers. I strike up conversations easily, and next thing I know, it feels like we have known each other forever and explore the city, mountains, towns, take bus/train rides, together.
2. We generally look after each other. I have never had anything stolen or misplaced. Now, be cautious and use common sense to keep valuables safe of course. Nonetheless, my female roommates have always been super nice and friendly. We borrow things too sometimes. I remember during my Euro trip in my early 20s, I was in Athens, Greece. I was washing clothes by hand, and needed detergent/soap and a brush, and a girl kindly let me use hers.
3. Safety and privacy. Some people do not care to make themselves at home in mixed dorms, but I always feel safer in female dorms. Sometimes, we hang our clothes, including all clothes, to dry on dorm beds when there is no washer/dryer in sight. Not all hostels allow this, but some do. In Manarola, Italia, my dorm mates and I had to dry clothes, and we opened the window for more air. Next thing we know, one of a intimate piece of clothing from one of the Australian girls’, that was hanging on the window, flew out and fell below! we all cracked up!! Most people are chill and adapt. We learn to help each other, so after half hour laughing, and debating if someone should go get that, we finally ended up hiking the mountains in Italian western coast together and grabbing some Nutella crepes. It is a safe space. Some dorms even have curtains or sliding doors! I love that! It helps with having to change or just have privacy. Mostly, female dorms are cleaner and more organized too-I noticed.
4. Female dorms end up feeling like slumber parties, with strangers, who feel like family and friends within moments of meeting. Travelers and backpackers have a way of connecting with others like no others. It is strange, but we somehow can share our whole life stories with ease, and learn so much about other cultures and countries. Each traveler has a passport full of visas and stamps, each representing millions of encounters and colorful stories, good and bad. We are all tied together through an invisible thread, and the journey continues. Some, you stay in touch with, but some, you wish farewell, and wonder what new adventure awaits them in life! … yet each person leaves behind a message or memory that will last forever. I collect memories with new friends and my temporary family while traveling, not souvenirs.
So what is the layout of a female dorm? Generally, most hostels will post the price per dorm bed per dorm room. For example, a 4 bed dorm is going to be much more expensive than a 16 bed dorm. The more people crammed into a room the cheaper, obviously! The older I get, I prefer staying in the 2-6 bed dorm rooms to minimize risk of noise and clutter. I am not much of a party backpacker. I prefer peace and quiet, and occasionally will chill at happy hour or go out with new traveling friends. I do not like to be up till 2 am drinking or partying though, not my style. To each their own, but I prefer to do my research, and look for non party hostels. Some people prefer party hostels. I am not one of them. Most dorms have reduce noise policy after a certain time though. The rules may be lenient in party hostels, but again, the crowd there probably is looking to party anyway. Also, the many female dorms come with en suite bathroom, meaning the bathroom is attached to the room for the female guests only. I prefer that. Sometimes, it can be a hassle to find a common vacant bathroom, especially during morning rush hour when everyone wants to shower at the same time! En suite bathroom rooms are also more expensive, but I think worth the few extra bucks or whatever local currency is! They are cleaner. Communal bathrooms are ok too, as I have stayed in many air bnbs and hostels with them, and had no issues (tip:shower at night when everyone is still out and bathrooms have just been cleaned!). I just prefer en suite ones. We leave our shower caps and towels in there, and it feels like home. Especially in the smaller 2-4 bed dorm rooms. Dorms come with lockers too, for the most part. Always carry your own lock and key.
Try one for yourself next time! The friendships and connections I make in hostel dorms, cannot be found in most secluding overpriced hotels, especially when solo traveling. Some adjustment is required, but you also save ton of money, literally. That allows for more travel time, and investing in other experiences. 🙂
I use http://www.hostelworld.com. There are other sites out there too!
I will do a post on Air bnbs in the future. The older I get, I also prefer them more sometimes when I just need my space. Some Air bnbs can be cheaper or equally prices to hostel dorms, depending on place and time! I have also made ton of friends in Air bnbs with locals and other travelers. Stay tuned for that post…