If you haven’t already, say goodbye for good to your fear of adventuring alone, and take a trip to some of the best places to travel solo. There are so many strong women (just check out #internationalwomensday to get inspired) who have helped make it possible for the rest of us to safely experience the more daring sides of life, like throwing on a backpack and hitting the road. Since hostels are one of the best ways to make new friends as an adult and exchange your wildest tales from all over the globe, these guidelines for finding the safest hostel will keep you on track for making the best memories during your journey abroad.
1. Lockers are non-negotiable. Most of us bring an array of electronics everywhere — including to foreign lands. You’ll likely pack a computer, camera and smartphone to stay connected or work remotely. Protecting those items is imperative to having a good time — stolen technology is a day-ruiner (at the very least) — so always make sure your hostel has a locker and durable lock for you to store your valuables in. Using a chain and lock can still leave your pack vulnerable to someone tearing it open. Many hostels even have backpack-sized lockers, that keep everything safe. Pro tip: Pack your own heavy-duty lock for your trip, just in case you aren’t provided with one.
2. Look for ladies-only dorm rooms. It’s worth booking any hostel that offers a women-only room; these are seriously ah-mazing. Omitting the risk of having a co-ed dorm automatically ups your safety factor. Add in the luxuries of hair dryers, scented hallways and champagne hours, and you’ll be hooked after one night. If you’ve amassed a posse of chicks while traveling, you can always try to find smaller dorms of 4-6 to make up your own girls’ getaway. Check out this list of the best women’s dorms worldwide, and try not to book a flight for tomorrow.
3. Pay a few bucks more for added security and friendly staff. While some hostels have nearly the same price tag, they can vary greatly. Sometimes the difference between a $10 and $12 per night place means significantly higher standards of cleanliness and safety. The staff are typically paid better — since even an extra dollar can go a long way in certain parts of the world — so they’re more likely to keep a more watchful eye out.
4. Make TripAdvisor your BFF. There’s nothing more helpful than sifting through real people’s TripAdvisor comments about the hostel where you’re considering staying. If the comments are old or nonexistent, that’s usually a pretty good sign to skip it. It’s possible to stumble upon gems this way, but if you’re trying to find out if a place is creepy or just undiscovered, remember to trust your gut and ask lots of questions.
5. Ask to see the room before committing. Speaking of questions, this should be the first one you ask when arriving at a hostel. Even if you’ve already booked the room, you’re typically allowed to view it first and run down your checklist of necessities — lockers, cleanliness and ladies options. If a co-ed dorm is the only one available, check to see if there are private rooms open. They’re still relatively inexpensive and will ensure your safety.
6. Trust your gut. Even if you’ve checked off every safety box on the list, sometimes your gut still tells you something’s not right. Trust this warning! When you’re on the road by yourself, you’ll learn to rely on your own abilities and instincts. So even if everything logically seems to be fine, don’t ever feel like you can’t bail on a situation. Your safety should be the most important factor in your decisions.
7. Use your tribe. Social media is an incredible resource for traveling like a local and making your trip safer. Post destination questions in forums (remember to leave out specifics on public posts), and join travel groups on Facebook. Seek out real women living in the country you’re visiting, like Sharell from About India Travel, for an extensive list of recommendations and helpful tips. Reach out to ladies in these groups and ask for help — and share your advice on places you’ve visited. Finding a safe hostel is clutch, but enjoying your trip is kind of the point, so get tips for must-have local food and unique sights while you’ve got their attention!
What are your guidelines for finding safe hostels? Tweet us your tips @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)