Staying in Hostels as an Introvert
Is staying in hostels as an introvert possible?
Ohhhh, yeah, this is a loaded question, for sure. I especially see this same question popping up over and over again on popular travel forums – such as facebook groups and subreddits. It’s topic I’ve been wanting to address on this blog for awhile. It’s important for me to shed some of the myth that surround hostels themselves and make solo travel more accessible for introverts.
And my answer is? Yes! Yes, of course it’s possible for introverts to stay in hostels!
I know it probably sounds like shocking news for many of you. You’d think the two elements would be incompatible on every imaginable level. Let’s not kid ourselves either. Solo travel for introverts means walking a fine line. Sure, you’re alone, but at the same time, you’re surrounded by tons of people. What to do. Feeling awkward is almost a guarantee.
Despite unique challenges, I promise you traveling in hostels as an introvert works well, especially when you understand your own needs and stick to your principles. Just pick the right hostel, and you will discover all travelers are welcome. Midlife travelers can stay in hostels. So can families. Introverts too!
For example, I’ve stayed in hostels multiple times throughout my solo travels. I don’t know if I’d call myself an introvert in the truest sense of the word, but I do need my own space to recharge.
On a day to day basis, I find that too much company and 24/7 social interact makes me feel burnt out, even though I enjoy having a thriving social life and feel depressed when I’m alone for more than a couple days here and there. At the end of the day, reading a book alone in a coffee shop or even inside my apartment isn’t “wasted” time to me. I enjoy my own company just fine. So, yeah, I feel like I can relate to all you self-identified introverts out there.
And, yes, to reiterate, I think you still can stay in hostels without too much trouble.
So what are hostels anyway and why would staying in one cause an introvert problems? For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, hostels are budget-friendly accommodations where you have roommates and no private bathrooms. Dorms are multi or single sex, with some rooms accommodating up to twelve (!!) people in a single space.
Sound fun? Haha.
Obviously, hostels might not be ideal for introverts. However budget travelers can’t do better costwise – with the exception of couchsurfing. So what to do?
Here are my eight top tips for staying in hostels as an introvert! Hopefully you won’t feel too burned out at the end of your great adventure.
1. Book a Private Room
A lot of people immediately think dorms are the only options in hostels. However, this isn’t the case at all.
Instead most hostels have private single or double rooms available for booking. Some of these rooms even have their own bathrooms, exactly like a cheap hotel.
If you truly need space to recharge (or even if you just feel too old for dorms), then I highly recommend booking private rooms in hostels and claim your space. They really offer the best of both worlds. However, I want to be honest with you. There are two major problems with private rooms in hostels.
The first issue is you need to keep in mind these rooms are limited in number. Sometimes hostels will only have one private available for all the guests. Yikes. Therefore reservations need to be made well in advance of your trip – particularly when you’re traveling at high season.
The second issue concerns price. I don’t know about you, but I think private rooms in hostels are, uh, massive rip offs depending on where you stay. Blunt, I know. Yet I always see lower prices for rooms in two star hotels, as well as affordable options advertised on AirBnb. Furthermore, as a solo traveler, you might have to pay a single supplement for a double room, which makes me grit my teeth, but hey, different rant for a different day. Budget-minded travelers might not have cash to spare for private rooms.
2. Introverts Should Book Smaller Dorms
Okay, let’s say the private rooms are sold out or you don’t have the cash lying around for a lousy single supplement (must. not. rant). What do you do then? Are hostels still options? Of course, but you need to be picky.
My next bit of advice is to opt for a smaller dorm room rather than shooting for the cheapest price. Honestly, I’d recommend introverts staying in a four person dorm room. Maximum six people. Anymore than six is overwhelming for me.
In my experiences, four beds works wonderfully for shy and introverted solo travelers. Your roommates have opted to spend extra money, so there’s a good chance they want the same (quiet) experience as you do. Plus I’ve never encountered anyone who couldn’t take the hint that I was too tired to talk.
You’ll also be less likely to encounter a snorer in a four bed dorm. Always an added bonus!
So, introverts, bite the bullet and stay in smaller dorm rooms. It’s extra money well spent.
3. Bring Your Kindle or Device and Use It
I don’t know about you, but reading an exciting thriller novel on my Kindle makes me oblivious. The nearest building might explode in a fiery storm of ash, and I still probably wouldn’t lift my head away from my book.
Have a kindle (or other similar device) with you on your travels. That way you can “shut off” in your dorm room and focus on something else of your own choosing. Did you want to catch up on the latest Netflix series? Read a classic novels? Watch a movie set in your new destination? Have at it, my friend! The world is at your fingertips.
Don’t feel guilty about indulging in a book or movie either. Having a quiet hour or two to spare will recharge you again.
4. Limit Your Group Activities
Many hostels offer group activities to foster a social atmosphere. Personally, I love hostel group activities. The dinners and tours are reasonably priced and I always make new friends. However, for a true introvert, attending group events every day might be more draining than it’s worth.
So schedule your group activities according to your own limits. It’s perfectly okay not to attend every single event hosted by your hostel. No one is judging you, I promise.
If you’re the sort of person who truly doesn’t want to be bothered with events, then read reviews and opt for hostels that don’t host group dinners or tours. There can be no pressure if the event in question doesn’t exist at all.
Balance your time. It’s your trip.
Which leads me to point five …
5. Don’t Feel Guilty Going Your Own Way
You’re traveling alone. Therefore it’s okay to BE alone. You don’t need to ask for permission. The sights, food, shopping, should all be about you and your wants.
Honestly, as a solo traveler, you’re well within your rights to say “no” to others at the hostel.
For example, don’t want to eat ramen noddles in the hostel kitchen cause your hostel mates are tight on money? Then don’t! Go to that swanky small restaurant around the corner and catch up with your new friends later.
You’re entitled to do your own things and make yourself a priority despite staying in shared accommodation. Actually your hostel mates will likely respect the fact that you’re not a Stage 5 Clinger.
Go your own way and you’ll feel more happy when you return to your hostel at that end of the day. Plus you’ll have cool stories to share if you do feel up to socializing in the kitchen, common room, or dorms.
Want more solo travel advice? Check out these 25 tips for solo female travel in Europe.
6. Read Reviews Ahead of Time to Fit Your Needs
Argh, you guys, so much drama could be avoided by reading hostel reviews ahead of time. It’s such a simple task yet overlooked too much. Now I completely understand the urge to “wing it” on your adventures, but come on, come on, come on. Research is so important.
Carefully read reviews. They will tell you so much about the hostel’s clients. You’ll have a stronger chance of escaping groups of drunks who just want to party all night, every night. Plus you’ll have insights to other non-negotiable characteristics such as safety and cleanliness. Online reviews are brutally honest.
Additionally you want to read the hostel’s website and look at a variety of photographs taken by both the hostel staff and fellow travelers like you.
As for me, I keep a special eye out for things such as:
- Neighborhood: Is the hostel relatively central? Is it located in an area that’s safe for solo female travelers? For introverts, check if the neighborhood is quiet or if bars litter both sides of the street.
- Bars: Does the hostel have its own bar? Probably not the best bet for introverts or even just travelers who don’t want to hear noise all night.
- Type of Traveler: Does the hostel seem to appeal to fellow solo travelers? Is it cozy? Or does it draw eighteen year olds or wild school trips or bachelorette parties? Be picky here.
Don’t “slack” when it comes to reading reviews and doing research. No one else will do this for you.
7. Introverts May Want to Cook at “Off Hours”
Most hostels have a communal kitchen available for all travelers to use as they see fit. These kitchens are (usually) clean with plenty of pots and pans, and refrigerator space. Kitchens especially help travelers on a super tight budget who can’t eat at restaurants every single day.
However, stay aware of “primary” meal hours, because at those times, travelers pack the kitchens. A crowded kitchen may feel like the equivalent of casting the One Ring into Mount Doom for some introverted travelers.
Have a late lunch and enjoy a quiet home cooked meal alone. Avoiding small talk will revitalize you. You won’t have to share your awesome food with anyone else either! Not that I condone selfishness, of course, haha.
8. Avoid Large Hostel Chains
Large hostel chains draw school groups and big groups of friends, which feels isolating for any independent traveler. These tight knit (and enormous!) hoards of closely knit travelers are especially problematic for introverts who might not want to approach big groups.
Instead a small and cozy hostel with a welcoming “family-like” atmosphere will make introverts feel much more “at home.”
Try not to book at “extra large” hostel chains. Sure, some chains, such as Hostel Plus, Generator, and Saint Christopher’s, have pretty solid reputations and have been in the travel game for years, but small hostels are still so, so, so much better for your needs.
Again, research on all the best booking website to find the hostel of your dreams. Staying in a hostel as an introvert doesn’t have to be a horrific ordeal. Just be smart.
Do you consider yourself an introvert? What do you think about staying in a hostel as an introvert? What are your favorite hostels? As always, thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog! You guys are the greatest!