While selecting a hostel, we usually prefer to have breakfast included and facilities like Wi-Fi, Locker, Kitchen, Bathing attached and all. We also go through ratings, pictures, reading reviews left by others, finally going through the pricing and then selecting the room or dormitory of 4, 6 or 8 bed or more, depending on our budget.
But there are some important factors which is usually ignored by most of us while selecting a Hostel. Not just the beginners, but also the old-timers sometimes. They end up paying more money, putting more time and energy. In my globetrotting journey of 47 countries, I stayed at 134 hostels to be precise. And I’ve always focused on TWO important factors, which I am going to explain in this article.
Any tourist city or a town you visit, you will find hotels/hostels in almost all the major corners of the city. But there is something called as Geographic Circle & Touristic Circle found in every city. What I do is, I always select a hostel which is at the centre (or close enough) of this touristic circle, even if I have to pay a little bit extra.
This way I save a lot of money. Now before I tell you how, let’s first understand how to find a centre point of a touristic circle. Please do not get confused with the Tourist Help Centre Office run by the government for helping the tourist. Here I am talking about a centre point inside the touristic circle, which is never marked or defined by any municipality of any city. It is we, the travellers, have to find out with a little bit of Internet work.
Here is how I do.
It’s very simple, google the city name + tourist map. For example, search as ‘Paris Tourist Map’ and go to the ‘image’ section, and you will find a lot of maps. The tourist maps are always marked with Red dots with numbers/alphabets written on it, marking the famous tourist places to visit in the touristic circle, including map legend printed on the left or right corners.
Just open a couple of them, and you will see the Louvre Museum is at the centre in all the Paris tourist maps. Please Note: This point will never be marked as a centre on any tourist maps, it’s us who have to do the rough calculation to find it out. Now once you find this centre point, all you have to do is open your hostel booking website, log in, select your dates, and perform the search query.
On the search results page, choose the ten best hostels according to the ratings and the facilities you want. Now open these ten hostels in a separate page in your browser and check their exact location one by one. Please Note: The maps are usually shown on the page itself, on some websites you have to click a map button, wherein a new pop-up window will show you the pointer of that hostel on the google map.
Now find out how far this hostel is from that centre point (Louvre Museum) in our example. Now you may find multiple hostels close enough to the centre point, choose the best one which suits your needs, for example, if you are looking for an in-house restaurant or a BBQ Facility or an in-house Bar.
I always select a hostel which is less than 1 km away from the touristic centre. Now here’s how you can save money.
Let’s say you’ve got a hostel at 14 euros per night, which is located outside the tourist circle, somewhere in the suburbs. You are in the city for four days. So every day you are going to spend at least 4 euros in that suburban train/tram/metro or a bus from your hostel to the touristic circle and back.
That brings your total expenditure to an extra 16 euros + 56 for the hostel stay. That’s 72 euros. Now if you find a hostel close to the centre, paying let’s say 16 euros per night, still you are going to save 8 euros in total. This 8 euros can be used for something else.
IMPORTANT: You will find hostels offering you dormitory at 9 Euros per night, but the location would be almost out of the city. Somewhere really far, it would not only cost you more, but it may take an hour to come to the town. And then again an hour to get back to your hostel.
There is one more factor to consider if you are a regular international traveller. And that is, to have a membership of YHA ‘Youth Hostel Association’ which is not that costly in India. It’s Rs. 2,500 for a lifetime membership, whereas it costs around Rs. 1400 (18 Euros) in Germany just for a one-year membership.
The primary benefit in having this card is, if you are staying in the YHA recognised hostel, you need to have a membership card, and if you don’t have one, you have to pay extra per night. In Europe, they charge you somewhere between 2 to 3 euros per night. Guess what; I saved around Rs. 13,000, in fact, I call it as a profit out of the Investment of Rs. 1600 that I spent on the membership card way back in 2008. So I strongly suggest you buy a YHA card and enjoy travelling.