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Hostel vs Budget Hotel – Give Me a Hostel Any Day

I’ve been staying in hostels for most of The Undeniable Tour, mainly for economic reasons. There was one area that didn’t have a hostel so I opted to stay in a budget-friendly hotel. After comparing the two, I’d rather stay in a hostel any day.

My bunk at the hostel in Hollywood

My bunk at the hostel in Hollywood

Feels Safer
I feel safer staying in a hostel dorm room than I do staying in a hotel. For one, there are other people around. Every night in a hostel this trip, I’ve had between 2 and 23 roommates. There’s no funny business going on with an audience. The door to the dorm room has a lock and everyone has a locker in the room where they can lock up their luggage, but I’ve seen people leave their laptops on their beds without worry.

Each hostel has a staff, and most have someone working the desk 24 hours a day. They’re the gatekeepers who keep non-guests out. Many have front doors that are locked at night, unlike hotels that are usually open all the time.

Because I feel safer in a hostel than a hotel, I tend to sleep better. Usually it doesn’t bother me if someone snores or turns on the light once I fall asleep.

Communal Kitchen
Hostels come with kitchen that is stocked with all the typical kitchen tools so you can bring food and cook for yourself. Many hostels have a “Free Food” section of food that’s been left from previous guests too. Everyone seems to be respectful of others’ food – you label your food when you put it in the fridge or cupboard. If anything, people seem to be offering to share what they have.

Community Resources
Hostels are made for adventurous travelers. More than hotels, hostels are teeming with maps, lists of nearby restaurants, shops, and attractions, and many hostels organize outings for their guests.

Better Value
When I travel, I typically need a room to sleep and Wi-Fi to check my email. Sometimes extra bells and whistles are nice, but they’re not necessary. And it’s ironic that the more expensive hotels charge for Wi-Fi whereas many hostel stays come with free Wi-Fi and breakfast. I’d rather pay $22-50/night to stay in a bunk bed in a hostel than $50+ to stay at a budget-friendly hotel.

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Burning Books

No, I’m not advocating the burning of actual literature, but it is one of my sub-themes for The Undeniable Tour.

These are the Books that Started The Undeniable Tour with Me.

These are the Books that Started The Undeniable Tour with Me.

“Burn your books” is something I got from the movie, “Wild.” Reese Witherspoon’s character walked the Pacific Crest Trail and started out with way too much stuff in her pack. It was so cumbersome that she could only walk 5 miles a day. Along with cleaning out the superfluous stuff in her pack, an experienced outdoorsman advised her to tear the pages out of her books as she was reading them so they wouldn’t add weight to her pack. I’m doing something similar for my trip.

As I was packing for my trip, I put 6 books in my bag. Yes, the aspiring minimalist took 6 books on a 2-week trip. But I swear there’s method to my madness. Two of my books are copies of Flash Mob Law which are gifts. They won’t be coming home with me.

The other 4 books are from my “Read Me” box. When I finished my “packing party” I had a banker box of books that I’d been holding onto because I wanted to read them eventually. I made myself a deal – I had 1 year to read these books. If there’s a book in the box at the end of this year, I can’t be that motivated to read it so I should get rid of it. I threw 4 of these books in my bag. Most of them are thin and paperbacks – easy to tote around in a suitcase or backpack.

I tend to read a lot when I travel – it’s a great way to fill down time. I think every hostel I’m staying at has a book exchange where you can leave books you finish and grab new free ones if you’re so inclined. Instead of actually burning my books when I’m done reading them, I’ll be leaving each one behind wherever I finish it. I like that I’ll be passing along my books to fellow travelers.

My first book is Lilith’s Love by Dan Shuarette. I won this book at Podcamp AZ years ago and I’m finally getting around to reading it. I’m only about a quarter of the way in but I’m enjoying it. Check it out if you’re interested in vampire fiction. (And I’m someone who has no interest in Twilight.)

Hopefully I’ll finish all my books on this trip and I’ll be going home with a lighter bag than when I left.

Hostel vs Hotel – The Experiment

I did an experiment during my recent trip to San Francisco for the Dad 2.0 Summit. To save money during The Undeniable Tour which is coming up later this month, I thought I would stay in hostels instead of hotels. I used this weekend trip as a trial run and to compare the hostel experience to a traditional hotel stay. I spent my first night in San Francisco at a hostel near the conference hotel and I spent the second night in the hotel itself. Here’s how the two compared.

My hostel bed.

My hostel bed.

The Hostel
Until recently, I didn’t know there were so many hostels in the U.S. Unlike hotels that have a fancy front entrance, this hostel was a nondescript building that had the hostel’s name on the front door and window. At check-in there was a sign that said we had to show our travel documents (to deter homeless people and others who may try to live there). The clerk handed me my sheets, towel, and the key to my room and reminded me that I had to show my key each time I entered the building.
The Room: Tiny room with two bunk beds, a small sink, and a power strip plugged into the wall. One bed was obviously in use (rumpled bedding, suitcase next to it) and the other beds each had a folded comforter on it.
The Bed: My sheets were clean and soft and the comforter seemed as clean as any hotel’s. The single pillow was flat and made me wonder if there is a life hack for a thicker pillow for my upcoming tour. At the end of my stay, I had to strip my bed and turn in my sheets with my key.
The Bathroom: Divided into three rooms – sink in the dorm room, single toilet down the hall, and the women’s shower room with five shower stalls. The water in the shower was warm but there was so much air pushing it through the shower head that it felt kind of cold by the time it hit me.
The View: None from my room – just four solid walls.
The Price: I paid a deposit of $4-something when I booked the room online and paid the balance of $23 at check-in which included $5 to purchase a towel. I also had to give a $10 key deposit that I got back at check out.
Wi-Fi: Free public Wi-Fi throughout the building.
Roommates: I had one roommate when I arrived – an MBA student. We got another roommate around 1:30 a.m.
Amenities: Free coffee, tea, and cocoa available at all times; make your own pancakes in the morning; communal kitchen; communal lounges on each floor with tables, power strips, and books.

My Hotel Beds

My Hotel Beds

The Hotel
The Room: Two queen size beds, private bathroom, desk, table lamps, TV, and dresser.
The Bed: Beautiful white linens with five pillows on each bed.
The Bathroom: Private bathroom with more towels than I needed, a bath mat, and shampoo, conditioner, and soap; no issues with water temperature or pressure; no extra fees for the towels.

The gorgeous view from my hotel room.

The gorgeous view from my hotel room.

The View: One wall was a window that overlooked the Moscone Center and San Francisco Bay.
The Price: $199/night – and that was the special conference rate.
Wi-Fi: Available for a fee.
Roommates: None.
Amenities: Cable TV, ironing board, hair dryer, fitness center, concierge, and room service.

The hotel was about 87.5% (7/8) more expensive than the hostel, but I would not say that the experience was 87.5% better. I enjoyed the casual nature of the hostel and how friendly everyone was. For a person who is traveling on a budget and open to adventure, I think a hostel is a great way to go.

The Undeniable Tour will last fourteen nights and I will be spending eleven of them in six different hostels. I’m excited for the different people I will meet and the new experiences I will have by being in a more interactive environment compared to traditional hotels. I’m curious to see if my perceptions of hostels will change by the time I get back.