Hostels are great places to stay if you are a budget traveler around Europe. Reasons are as follows: cheap, usually good locations and atmospheres, and fun places to meet other travelers.
How do you find a hostel?
There are a couple of great websites I have used many times before and have had great successful bookings. I have used Hostel Bookers and Hostel World to search for hostels which usually have similar results. Filters can be used such as how much money you want to spend each night, rating, and neighborhood of the city you are looking at. There are reviews to help in choosing, which can be both helpful and misleading. If you find a place that you are interested in booking, look at the hostel's direct site (if applicable) to see if they offer a better deal than through the search engines.
What do hostel amenities include?
Hostels include a bed. Other than that, each establishment is different. Look at their individual amenities because some hostels charge for linen, towel, and locker. Some hostels may even provide breakfast or other meals for FREE. Take advantage of that perk if the hostel suites all of your other needs. Hostels might have social events, a bar, other food options, and a kitchen that you can use during your stay. Again, read each hostel and what they provide since each place is totally different from the next one.
What type of hostels are best to stay at?
That depends on the type of traveler you are. Do you want to be in the center of it all in the city that you are visiting? Do want to walk or talk public transport? Do you want a specific neighborhood? All of these questions truly depend on traveler preferences.
I like to be near the things that I would like to see most and I like walking loads around the cities I visit. Many hostels are located near local sights, or just a little longer walk away. Look at a map, usually provided when searching, where the hostel is in relation to what you want to do. If a hostel is far away, factor in what you would pay for public transport if your budget is right.
Rooms vary in occupancies. There are rooms with sometimes 10+ people, so those are cheaper as well as provide more connections. There are also private rooms available at some hostels and those are usually the most expensive option at the hostel. I usually try for 4-6 people in a room if I am traveling by myself since it's not too many people to deal with and the price is usually aligns with my budget. If I am traveling with one or two friends, I usually get a private room or again a 4-6 person room depending on price.
Best and favorite hostels:
Bulldog Hotel - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Czech Inn - Prague, Czech Republic
Generator Hostel - Venice, Italy
Oops! Hostel - Paris, France
Pangea People Hostel - Berlin, Germany
Seven Santi - Florence, Italy
Vienna Hostel Ruthersteiner - Vienna, Austria
Youth Hostel Oia - Santorini, Greece
MONEY. MONEY. MONEY.
Money is always on the mind, especially when it comes to traveling anywhere. It is also the biggest excuse I have heard for not chasing after one's travel dreams. Of course money is needed in order to travel, but not that much to be completely honest if you do your research, are flexible, and add a smidgen bit of frugality to your regular lifestyle.
People ask me all the time: Kimmi how do you do you travel so much? I ask them how do you get your nails done all the time or how do you go out to eat so often? Cutting back on certain things in life can save so much money! Think about what you can cut back on and put it towards your travel aspirations.
How do you get cheap plane tickets?
This is probably the biggest expense of your whole trip. Do not fret or let this first sentence get in the way of your dreams! It is easy to purchase a plane ticket; you have to make the jump.
Use different sites and compare them. Skyscanner (my favorite for looking all over the world to find a place to go with the 'Everywhere' destination option), Priceline, Expedia, CTrip (very good for flights to and from Asia) and a multitude of other sites offer flight searches. They also have the option to show their competitors' prices for the same flight.
Some other websites to look at for flights are through airline carriers since they may not show up on these flight search engines. Norwegian Airlines and IcelandAir (great for a stopover in Iceland, read more here) are great for flights to and from the US to Europe, but may not come up through a general search on other sites.
Overall, expect to pay between $500 to $1300 for a return plane ticket from the US to Europe and visa vera as well as from the US to Asia. It's a wide range because it depends where you fly to and from, when you purchase the ticket, and what season (summer is high season, winter low season) you plan to visit. This fare range can also be applied to one-way tickets, too.
When should you book a ticket?
Whenever you are ready and want to book, do it (I will be the cheerleader voice behind you)! But it does help if you plan a little in advance to get the best price. Best prices from the US to Europe or the US to Asia are three to six months in advance or more. Sometimes last minute ends up being surprisingly cheap still, but quite often can be sky high in pricing. Many sites allow you to create a 'price alert' for the flight that you're looking for that will send you emails if the flight price rises.
Should you plan an itinerary for a trip with multiple flights?
It depends on the type of person/traveler that you are. Do you want to be secure with your plans or do you want to let the wind take you as it may? If you have a time limit, an itinerary will help you get the most out of the days that you have reserved for travel. If you don't have a limit, being flexible may lead you to many places.
If you are planning a European or an Asian trip and exploring the continent, an itinerary may be best to use if you are using multiple ways of travel (car, bus, train, ferry, or plane) look at budget carriers. There are so many budget carriers that go to many places throughout Europe and Asia, with one-way flights costing as little as $20.
Here is a list of popular budget flight carries in Europe:
Here is a list of popular budget flight carriers in Asia:
There are many other ways to help you travel cheaply. More posts on that later. Other ways you can see the world is slow travel by living and working abroad as an au pair or as an English teacher.
So start that flight search now and make the leap and JUST DO IT. Buy a ticket and go explore what the world has to offer you.