Hostels are great places that laid back traveling people can enjoy. They are some of the best places to meet new friends and share your favorite backpacking stories. However, we’ve all met some types of people who just shouldn’t stay in hostels. While there are more, these are our top seven types of terrible hostel guests.
We unknowingly arrived in Bangkok, Thailand at a strange time. Unbeknownst to us, it was the month of the King of Thailand’s funeral. The much loved King Rama IX had passed away a year before and the entire month of October was proclaimed to be a month of mourning, leading up to the five-day-long funeral starting on the 25th. For the past year the most socially appropriate color to wear was black, and October was the “month of black” where that’s all most people wore. Many entertainment events had been canceled, the clubs and bars were supposed to close early, and all celebrations were postponed including the world famous Ko Phangan Full Moon Party. Foreigners were still arriving in droves, disappointed at the lack of activities upon showing up.So we spent the month at work. Zach trying to find a job and Carrie helping out Yim Yam Hostel & Garden with marketing and events. Things were slow, but it was nice to have time to implement the volunteer program and the daily activities. We checked out a few temples and it was fun riding around on tuk tuks, motorized rickshaws that zip though traffic as the wind blows through your hair. We used an app called Tuk Tuk Hop (Check out our post about it) which is kinda like Uber for tuk tuks but you get unlimited rides for the day. The temples were very crowded and it was hot and humid so by afternoon we were completely exhausted. The Grand Palace was closed to foreigners with thousands of Thai people waiting in line to pay their last respects to their King. A giant Royal Crematorium had been built nearby, and was to be the site of much of the funeral proceedings.
All of the shops were selling colorful elephant pants (Carrie’s favorite) but we bought more black outfits. We wanted to blend in and be respectful. In Thai culture, respect is everything. From the warm smiles, to the wai (hands placed together at the heart), to the use of krup and ka (males and females respectively say these words at the end of every sentence to be polite) – no confrontation is the key to success. Every morning and evening the National Anthem of Thailand plays throughout the streets over invisible speakers and everyone hurrying to or from work stops and waits respectfully until the song finishes. The Anthem also plays before movies in the cinema, so everyone stands, not wanting to be the one out of line. The younger generations seemed to care a little less about the funeral but for the older Thai people, who had spent their entire lives under his reign, the King of Thailand’s funeral signified an enormous change. For better or worse, change is always scary, and the apprehension was thick in the air.
The farang (foreigners) were still coming, and were surprised when they arrived. They wore their elephant pants and walked down the street drinking Chang beer. They asked which club was best for late night, not understanding the midnight liquor cutoff. Of course some places were still open late, but they payed steeply for this luxury whenever the local police force came through for their nightly kickbacks. Many people showed up at Ko Phangan, ready to rage all night for the Full Moon Party and many holidays were ruined or relocated to Cambodia. We tried to explain to our hostel guests about the local customs such as not staring at the King’s photos and never putting your foot on money if you drop it on the ground (because his face is on all the currency). We suggested to travelers to wear black and at least try to be respectful.
The King of Thailand’s Funeral took over the television for nearly a month. First they played a documentary on repeat showcasing the King’s successes, then the entire five day funeral was broadcast all day on every station. Besides the black clothes and decorations, the city of Bangkok was covered in marigold flowers, because the color yellow was the official color of the King’s birthday. The marigolds filled up empty spaces like seas of yellow, contrasting with the masses of black. Life would return to normal, but only after the King could be laid to rest. The funeral involved dancing, marching, orchestras, and dignitaries from across the world attended. All businesses closed, even 7 Eleven which never closes, for the day of the cremation. Restaurants gave away free food to passers by and all the Thai people came together in a show of community that was extremely humbling.
I remember a farmer in Chiang Mai who had invited us into his home to share some fruit. After cutting the delicious passionfruit, he cleared us a spot on the table. He moved his photo of the King to the other end, making sure it was straight and centered. “We are sad our King is gone,” he said in Thai with a tear in his eye. After the King of Thailand’s funeral it was socially appropriate to mourn for one more week. Soon the clubs started to reopen, red dresses were pulled out of storage, and the giant billboard LCD screens changed from a picture of King Rama IX to 7-Eleven advertisements. The shopping malls changed to upbeat music, and the Kings symphony, which had played on the metro and restarted at every stop, was also replaced with advertising. The general mood of depression started to subside and laughter crept back into the streets. The King of Thailand’s funeral was a long and tedious process, but we were glad to have witnessed it. We saw real sadness in the people, and it really changed my opinion of the King. He accomplished great things in his reign and the programs he started were well liked by many. Thailand will miss King Rama, but life must go on.
Like our article on the King of Thailand’s Funeral? Check out more posts in our archives and don’t forget to follow our Instagram – @laaventuraproject for daily travel photos.
Hostel Holidays are the best holidays. You meet friends from all over the world and share a special time together. It’s an incredible opportunity for travelers to learn about new holidays they don’t celebrate at home. Sharing holidays is an important part of cultural exchange. It creates a bond between the traveler and the local that becomes the base of friendship. Having activities like these are what makes great hostels great.
Take Thanksgiving for instance– it’s a great hostel holiday. It’s so much fun to cook a huge feast of all your childhood favorites and show the other backpackers what they’ve been missing out on their whole lives. This year we are planning a food and wine buffet at Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok. Mashed potatoes are of course the most important part, with lots of butter and salt.
While Carrie was working at a hostel on Christmas in San Diego they would have a special free breakfast buffet with champagne mimosas, then do the “present ball” game with dollar store gifts! You could also do a white elephant gift exchange, creating mayhem by swapping and stealing each others presents. It always turns into a bunch of laughing and merry hooting and hollering. Getting some free drinks into your customers is a good way to start the holiday off right! This is why hostel holidays are the best!
As a local, it’s nice to keep travelers up to date on the upcoming holidays – especially if it involves stores closing or transportation headaches. One of our craziest holiday experiences while traveling was when we were in Morocco for Eid al Fitr. Eid is the biggest holiday of the year for Muslim families. Signifying the end of the Ramadan fasting period, Eid is the yearly giant feast. Most families will purchase a sheep which is slaughtered on the morning of the feast. The week before the feast it’s a sight to behold with sheep being shuffled around all over the city. There were sheep on the backs of motorbikes, parking lots turned into temporary “sheep parking”, and sheep just about everywhere. We walked into the apartment complex where we were CouchSurfing. Our host sniffed the air like “What’s that smell?” and tried to open the basement door. “Sheep parking in the basement!“, he realized. We called it the sheep genocide. The festival impacted where in Morocco we could travel as the bus tickets were almost all purchased by locals in advance. We ended up having to change most of our trip but since we’re flexible we still had fun.
You should also create events for your guests around the holidays. If there is a Christmas parade in town, take them to go see it! Free food for a Buddhist vegetarian festival? Make signs and organize a tour there! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more tips on hostel activities and how you can make your hostel holidays great!
While spending years traveling the world, we’ve stayed in a LOT of great hostels. Sometimes we check out the trendy new ones, sometimes we try to save money and go bottom budget. Besides the obvious necessities like cleanliness and safety, here are some things that make for great hostels:
Hostel activities are the best way to make friends while traveling. It is also usually the cheapest way to do the things that you want to do anyways. These actives could be free yoga, beach bonfires, beer pong tournaments, surf lessons, language exchanges, exploring the market, or hiking adventures. Some hostels go as far as to focus their whole marketing strategy around their actives, like Volcano Boarding at Bigfoot Hostel in Leon, Nicaragua
2) Free Breakfast
Not paying for that first meal is important to long term travel. Some breakfasts are better than others but it’s nice to at least get some coffee, bread, and fruit. The best breakfasts ever were at the Casas Particulares in Cuba where we one time were served 8 different types of fruit, in addition to bread, eggs, and cheese.
3) A Bar and Restaurant
Sometimes you just want to stay in and hang out with travelers. Hostel bars are the best place to do that. They provide an international vibe that some towns lack. Sometimes the bar is the attraction itself, like Loki Hostels in South America or the Tipsy Tiger in Penang, Malaysia.
4) Chilling Areas
Comfortable places to meet new friends, use your laptop to advance your digital nomad dreams, and share stories of your adventures are a must. These areas range from bean bag chairs, to hammocks, to comfy couches or soft green grass. For places with dorms this is the area that most people will spend their time. The swimming pool at Equity Point in Marrakech wins our vote for best chillin’ area.
5) Fast WiFi
Some countries just have terrible internet all over. But sometimes the hostel gets cheap and goes for the internet package that wouldn’t load AIM in the 90’s. You. must. have. fast. Wifi. It’s so nice to be able to upload photos to Facebook or Skype your family back home in Ulakalakalakastan or wherever you’re from. Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok wins for fastest hostel WiFi ever.
6) Knowledgeable and Friendly Staff
You want tours, you want advice, you want someone who will laugh with you at your stupid mistake of waking up early to spend all of your money on taxis to the airport one day too early (oops). The staff should make you feel at home and help you have the best time possible. By far the best staff we’ve met were at USA Hostels Ocean Beach, San Diego, California.
We know we said 5, but wasn’t 6 better?
Other things that make your stay better:
– Privacy curtains on dorm beds.
– Water refill station.
– No bed bugs. Sometimes if places look grimy it’s better to just pay the extra $1 for no bed bugs. Check out our post on how to remove bed bugs from your stuff.
– Free maps.
– Free earplugs (for the party hostels).
– Instagramable decor – you know you want to brag to your friends back home.
Sometimes in the end everything is not perfect, but sometimes those imperfections are what makes great hostels an experience. I mean, you could have stayed in a hotel and gotten a good nights sleep. But after you go out with your new hostel best friends and dance on the bar until 6am, you never think “man, I wish I would have gotten a hotel and some sleep!” Well sometimes you do, but that doesn’t make a very good story now, does it?
If you’re interested in finding some good places to stay, check out our HOSTEL REVIEWS page and get out there on your own aventura! What important in great hostels to you? We’d love your feedback!
We are hostel marketing consultants and in our years of traveling we have stayed at a LOT of hostels. The difference between a good hostel and a GREAT hostel is often so small that it’s hard to notice from an inside perspective. We have worked with almost 50 different hostels and hotels on five different continents. Our hostel marketing, consulting, writing, photos, and videos have helped many places jump the gap from failure to success.
Here are the 5 biggest reasons why you should hire a hostel marketing consultant:
1) A Different Perspective:
When you are at your hostel day after day, you become blind to the real problems. You also get attached to things that are maybe not the best ideas. A hostel consultant can help you fix problems and think outside the box.
2) Knowing What Foreigners Want:
You know what the locals want; we know what the tourists want. Travelers want clean, easy, safe, and fun! Places and activities that might seem unexciting to locals might be exactly what travelers want!
3) English Promotions On Different Media Types:
Eye-catching social media posts are crucial to your success. Nowadays, many travelers only use Instagram and Facebook to plan their trips. Having a follower base and daily exciting posts are crucial to building your business.
Here are some examples of Instagram accounts from hostels we have worked with:
4) Keeping Up With The Times:
The hostel world is always changing. When you are managing a hostel there is little time for exploring other countries, scoping out your competition, or keeping up with events and attractions around your area. We love travel and the first thing we do when consulting with hostels is to get to know their area like a local, but seeing it though the eyes of a tourist.
5) Professional Photos, Highlights Videos, and Blogging
We specialize in making your hostel shine! iPhones can take pictures, but having professionally edited photos from real cameras sets you above the competition. Highlight videos let people feel like they are actually there from the comfort of their own home. They show how fun, clean, and comfortable your hostel really is. We want your hostel to be a tourist attraction in itself. A website blog highlights attractions in your area which increases the traffic to your website and your hostel!
How we can help:
Contact us at email@example.com to discuss hostel marketing and consulting help for your business!
There is no debating it, the people at Chacos have put together the worlds greatest shoe.
Some of the best uses for Chacos are:
Hiking: Chacos really grip those rocks and don’t move around on your feet.
Backpacking: Super durable and maintenance-free. Your feet stay omfy and dry fast after you get them wet. It’s also great to not need as many pairs of socks, which always smell and are hard to wash in the sink.
At the salsa bar: Great for showing off those gringo dance moves. The chicas will be muy impressed by your super style. They come in several styles and hundreds of colors.
On the bus: Throw on some socks under your Chacos for those air conditioned rides and rock that classic dad look.
Church: That’s right, Jesus would have worn them on the pulpit. Birkenstocks? Yeah right!
This hike full of poisonous plants and animals is not recommended for Chaco-wearers.This picture is from the day I got a weird rash all over my hands and feet. Most of my fingernails and toenails died, peeled off, and looked really stupid for the next few months.
They retail for just under $99 or 3000 Thai Baht or 0.02 Bitcoin and you can get them from REI or anywhere that sells outdoor gear. If your local store doesn’t have them than you really just need a better local store or figure out how to use the internet for things other than selfies. So why don’t you stop wasting time here and get out and buy some killer sandals??
A big announcement today, everyone! Since we are back in the US now, working real jobs again (boo) and editing the documentary, we don’t have as much to post here! Thus, we are looking for current travelers in South or Central America to write hostel reviews for us and keep our directory growing! If you are a good writer (in English), good photographer, and would like to stay in hostels and hotels for FREE, please contact us about an opportunity to write for our website. We will also gladly feature a link to your own personal blog or website on all of your hostel reviews. Again, we are only looking for travelers currently in South or Central America to review hostels in those regions. Leave a comment or email us at laaventuraproject AT gmail DOT com if you are interested in more information about this awesome project!