Are Hostels Getting Worse?
Replies: 21 - Last Post: Mar 20, 2013 4:23 PM Last Post By: FutbolistaXIV
Nov 25, 2012 9:37 AM
Are Hostels Getting Worse?Hello Fellow Backpackers,
I have been traveling with you intermittently for the past 15 years. I've had awesome conversations with you over dinner talking about whatever I saw that day in my long trips though Europe, Ecuador, Uganda, Thailand, the US, and now Morocco. I love your worldly knowledge. I love your respect for culture and your adventurous spirit. I've loved swapping travel stories with you. Receiving your warnings and recommendations and giving you warnings and recommendations. You are the best. You are my community. Is the golden age of hostels over? Do i have to agree now with the people who say, "you get what you pay for?" I've always replied that with the backpacker scene you get everything for nothing.
I just had a very hard time in Morocco. All my other trips were so wonderful i didn't know traveling could be hard. The backpacker scene was almost non existent in Morocco (July and August) and the hostels didn't cover the basics (most had dirty sheets, no help from the staff at all (not even directions to the bus), and one hostel staff let tours of 18 year olds loose control all night so it was impossible to sleep. Add Ramadan and 122 degree temperatures into the mix and it was hard to get my basic physical needs met. In one location it was hard to get sleep, another food, another water, and exercise and conversation were almost always hard to get. Struggling to get basic physical needs met creates a underlying stress. And even though i was able to relax and have many absolutely amazing cultural experiences in the moment i had them, overall the trip was an ordeal.
So please tell me, is our backpacker scene alive and thriving in other places? Please reply from where ever you are and tell me how it is. I'm back to normal life now and wondering if i'll be able to enjoy my future trips. Thank you!
Nov 26, 2012 12:22 AM
1I stayed in a few hostels recently, private rooms, and I agree I think they are getting worse. I stayed in many in my twenties and found them better. Of course when you are 10 years younger you don't care about the bit of dirt here, or the crap shower there, or the 3am noise elsewhere that woke you up. So of course I put it down to the fact I was older than I used to be (well, obviously) and just was wanting cleaner accomodation. I was also travelling with my wife, and we wanted a decent, sturdy bed!
But no further reflection I think that hostels are not what they used to be. The staff are usually less knowledgable than they used to be and allow guests to make too much noise. I have never been one to like noise, even 10 years ago, so this is not just an imagined idealism about how quiet things were when I was younger - they actually were (a little) quieter, and staff were, on average, more helpful.
And the modern guests, usually twenty-something, are far ruder than they used to be. I think the younger generation has a sense of "I know better than you" whereas 10 years ago the younger generation could still remember the cold war, the berlin wall, atrocities, and it put in them a sense of humbleness.
Mix all that with the average twenty-something hostel-goer preferring to sit at their laptop chatting away on the internet than engage in random conversation with some other person at the breakfast table like we used to, and the hostel experience as a whole is far less than it used to be. I should point out that I never, ever travelled in order to meet people at hostels. But this type of thing, a nice conversation about where to go next, what you've done that's good, even which football league was better!, was nice, after a long, hot day's sight-seeing. Even though it was only maybe once or twice a week if you're lucky, it stuck in your head, and at least gave you confidence in the posibility that you never know when it may happen again. You would swap emails and hope to meet up again one of these years, one of these decades, and I usually did, an in a meaningful way too. Now this happens far less, as they are all too busy chatting on the internet about where to party-hard that night so they can be loud when they stumble in at 4am!
Nov 27, 2012 2:39 AM
2I sympathise with you, it does sound like an ordeal. We spent a few weeks travelling slowly around, mainly on the well beaten path. Morocco didn't seem like a backpacker destination at all. We knew it would be like that, but wanted to go regardless. It reminds me of Bali...thousands of tourists there for a short time, with plenty of money, no time and an itinerary to follow.... Of course they don't have time to chat! I don't know what hostels are like there, we stayed a couple of rungs above. I would think that you would have found less, but friendlier travellers elsewhere, Mauritania for example.
Johnnnn has some good points too...the odd occasional conversation with a fellow traveller add another dimension to your time at a particular place, equally as good as seeing the sights, landmarks and talking to the local people. But not to go especially to hang around with them!...that would be quite restrictive and onerous. I would just take it as it comes what when come to meeting physiological needs...we spent a whole week eating nothing but rice and grilled fish,...far less than ideal and I still can't bring myself to eat the same again! But its okay, not such a big deal really. Worse things can always happen.
Nov 27, 2012 2:56 AM
3As someone who's been backpacking for more than 40 years, I find you generally get back what you give out.
Of course, my expectations haven't risen with age. But if you expect the moon for sixpence then you're generally going to be disappointed.
Be grateful for what you get, for very little money - and then sometimes you get given much, much more, from a person who is suddenly being treated like a real human being instead of a wage slave.
Nov 27, 2012 4:28 AM
4Seems there's usually only one person, who leaves a mess, in dorms. Takes all the shelf space and his bags, bruchures, etc. in the way.
But they aren't usually the type, to stay and learn about a place.
Except last time, when a brit got a job at a pub, and was looking for apt. Small dorm, room dark, duffle in aisle.
Ahhh, but ain't it just like home?
Nov 29, 2012 12:43 PM
5I've only been traveling for a few years now, since 2008... I don't know what times were like before me, but I generally like the way things are. Different places have different "vibes" (although I hate that word). The experience you had in Morocco seems to be more of a reflection of Morocco more than the traveling experience. Morocco is (IMO) a testing and difficult place to travel where people have expectations that things are easier than the neighboring African countries. But it's an aggravating challenging place.... because it's Morocco, not because traveling has changed.
Edited by: SaltwaterGem
Nov 29, 2012 5:30 PM
6I don't think it's the hostels that have changed. I hear more often now that life is getting harder and people are getting harder too (less friendly, more selfish).
But, it's not all that bad. It depends on where you go. I've met many young people at hostels and even more on treks, who were genuinly interested in places they visted. Most were age of my children, or younger, openminded and easy to talk to, and even eager to exchange views with someone who was twice their age. Often they were those who travelled for several weeks and months.
It's also interesting to see how people start to socialise more when they come to places where there is no wifi, no internet and mobile phone access. But, those places are becoming fewer with each year. It's isn't unusual on this board that people planning a trip ask specifically about hostels with wifi or internet access. Argh, sometimes you've got to hate those computers.
Nov 29, 2012 7:55 PM
7Every hostel is different... Some are better than others... Some hostels can change overnight... when the people staying there change...
The key is not to expect too much... For me a hostel is a place to stay at night...if its a social experience fine...if not that's OK too... I am amazed at how many people expect hostels to provide them with friends and road buddies... Large groups can take over a hostel and make it miserable for everyone...but I just work around it...
Don't expect much and you won't be disappointed... Just try to get a lower bunk...and hope no one snores...
Nov 30, 2012 7:24 AM
8Morocco in August can be a tough gig unless you're on the beach...
I was there 15 years ago for three weeks and don't remember any hostels as such. Just cheap hotels and riadhs. Lots of backpackers though.
Dec 2, 2012 1:33 PM
9I don't have the impression they are getting worse. Overall quality has improved. They are located in renovated buildings, give you free maps, free coffee, a pool table, wifi, etc. Just thinking now of the hostels in Europe, China, Mexico, etc. But yeah, the atmosphere is different from one to another. I've had the dorm for myself in Berlin at a hostel, in China they were packed. I agree that with all the wifi and smartphones it has gotten a bit less social, but still you easily find someone at the dorm to go for drinks with. I walked around Marrakesh with the travellers I met in the dorm, but then in a hostel in Rabat the management was very unpleasant... Don't let that one negative experience spoil it for you.
Dec 4, 2012 5:52 PM
10I'm going to start travelling all over the world and stay in hostels... I've herd they are becoming worst but the bargain is worth it i would say... I am a low budget traveler and feel its better to find hostels as a better option because all i do is be on the move all day why to spend so much money in hotels. Guess we gotta compromise in some things.
Dec 4, 2012 8:58 PM
Dec 6, 2012 10:55 PM
Dec 9, 2012 8:16 PM
13My opinion hostels around the world are overpriced especially if mentioned on a lonely planet guidebook. A solo traveller gets much better value in small hotels or even apartments. Two or three or more people get great deals in apartments and so easy now with web sites and wifi and the hosts take a lot of care of their own places. Hostels are mostly not very responsible, usually noisy, not hygenic and usually in the worst parts of towns and cities.
Dec 11, 2012 1:28 PM
14Hostels are mostly not very responsible, usually noisy, not hygenic and usually in the worst parts of towns and cities
Tombisan I don't know where you've been hostelling, but that isn't my experience. I've been hostelling all over the world and on nearly every continent. I don't usually stay in European hostels, though.
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