Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Packing hacks that will turn every girl’s nightmare into fun

Jewelry

There’s more than one hack you can use to store your jewelry better during your travel. Depending on the nature or the length of your trip, there are different tips you could use to keep your jewelry safe and arranged.

  • One option is putting it between two sheets of plastic wrap so it won’t move around and tangle inside your luggage.
Wrapping jewelry via Kathleen Kamphausen

Wrapping jewelry via Kathleen Kamphausen

  • Losing small earrings is a pain in the ass. Buttons, on the other hand, are large enough not to get lost. Keeping the earrings together on a button doesn’t only prevent losing the pair, but it also helps you not to lose one earring from the other. Honestly, how many times have you only found one unmatched earring and how annoying is this?

Earrings on button holes via Kathleen Kamphausen

  • And if you’re simply out of buttons, old pill containers will also do the job, as well as will old balm containers.

Pill containers for earrings via mashable.com

Packing hacks via cosmopolitan.com

  • Just like one of the earrings magically disappears sometimes, the necklace manages to twist and gets knotted in ways Poppeye the Sailor Man himself wouldn’t imagine. To avoid this kind of situation, use a straw to keep your necklace straight.  If you’re tired of getting your jewelry all bundled up, here’s an easy solution.

Thread your necklaces through straws via esa-ltd.co.uk

Packing hacks for women via cbc.ca

  • After you’ve done all this, the best place to put the straws and the buttons is an oven mitt. After placing them inside (perfectly safe from being lost or getting knotted, you can wrap it up and then use it as a bracelet holder.
Oven mitt as bracelet holder via Sonia's Travels

Oven mitt as bracelet holder via Sonia’s Travels

Cosmetics

Because no woman ever leaves her home without looking as if she’s about to meet her worst enemy, cosmetics will always be part of our luggage, whether we’d like to admit it or nor. But we can do this intelligently as well.

  • For instance, instead of carrying the entire collection of shampoos and creams and body lotions, empty pill bottles may come in handy. Depending on the length of your trip, it’s really easier to put cosmetics in small containers.
Cosmetics in pill bottles via maddeeshawbeautyblog.blogspot.com

Cosmetics in pill bottles via maddeeshawbeautyblog.blogspot.com

  • And if you’re done with your cosmetics and still have some spare empty pill bottles, you can use them for Q-tips as well.

Q-tips in pill bottles via maddeeshawbeautyblog.blogspot.com

  • As about your toiletries, because they’ve somehow managed to leak and spread on your finest clothes, the best solution is to put some plastic wrap over the opening.

Plastic wrap -the problem solver via cbc.ca

  • Another perfect solution for storing make up of any kind (from foundation to eyeshadow) is by putting it in old contact lens containers. This way, you’ll only take with you the necessary for your trip instead of just leaving with your entire cosmetics collection.

Contact lens container comes in handy via cbc.ca

Image via cosmopolitan.com

  • But if your trip isn’t going to be long enough for you to even need these, you can always coat the ends of cotton swabs in your favorite shades of eyeshadow, and then put them in a plastic sandwich bag.

Q-tips via Kathleen Kamphausen

  • Don’t break the make up products! Especially the ones with mirrors, such as the powder. Instead, add a cotton pad or a cotton ball inside the compact before packing it. Make sure your make up is going to look as good as you are.

Cotton pads get the job done via cosmopolitan.com

  All the other sorceries

  • The flat iron can easily be placed in a potholder. This way, even if it’s still warm and you’re in a hurry, there will be no harm done. This hack is especially good if you’re going on a trip where you know you won’t be having too much time in between different events.

The flatiron solution via yourcreativejuices.blogspot.com

  • There’s always a lottery whether your perfume bottle is going to be intact or not, and in order to avoid a Schroedinger’s cat experiment with every trip you take, our advice is to put the bottles inside socks to prevent them from breaking.

Perfume keeps you classy via Kathleen Kamphausen

 

  • Again, depending on the nature of your trip, you may be compelled to take a razor with you, regardless of your fancy shaving methods at home. In this case, a binder clip will prevent it from ruining the razor heads.

Razor problem, solved! via mshcdn.com

  • Shoes can be easily covered with a shower cap. Yes, we know, you wouldn’t pack  your dirty shoes in the luggage, but the real question is if you’ll have the necessary time to clean them spotless every time. And even if you do, come caution never killed anyone.

Shoes are also safe via Kathleen Kamphausen

  • And if you’re looking for packing-ception, you can even store socks and all kinds of small cosmetics inside your shoes, in case you’re in a need for even more space.

Be practical via Kathleen Kamphausen

  • Because some of us really care a lot about being clean no matter what, a good idea would be to protect your delicates from the rest of the items in your luggage by putting them inside a little cloth bag that you’ve got from a pair of shoes or a new purse.

Cloth bag magic via cosmopolitan.com

  • The hair pins are always hard to find and they’ve also got their own way of disappearing when you most need them – especially when it’s extremely windy outside or in the mornings when your hair just won’t stau the way you want it to. But an empty Tic-Tac container solves this problem too.

Image via beautyblondie.com

How to spot an eco friendly hostel

To some people, their principles and moral values come above everything – which is  why for some, an eco-friendly hostel is the only way to go. While many hostels claim they’re eco-friendly, very few actually have the facts to back that up… more often than not, it’s just a PR stunt. We believe it’s important to be able to spot the difference.

You’ll learn that once you get to see the hostel, it’s pretty easy to say if it is eco-friendly or not, since most of the signs don’t require special knowledge and training, but just a little more attention to details than you’d usually give.

1. Recycling

Beds and mattresses can be recycled as easily as anything else. The economic advantage may seem irrelevant at first, but hostel owners quickly discover the difference. It takes over 20 years for mattress to decompose, and there are all kinds of industry businesses in Europe as well as the United States of America which issues, assuring old bad and mattresses 100% recycled. The kind of hostel using this tip is easy to spot, mainly because of the spotless mattresses as a result of their replacement not being an economic problem anymore.

Image via Wiki Commons.

Linen reuse programs are another way of recycling and yet another criterion on spotting eco friendly hostels. Instead of immediately changing the towels, the staff will have plates informing you on the operational program of taking an ecologic chance. This way, you’ll have the opportunity of hanging up your towel after using it instead of consuming extra water and energy for having it washed on a daily basis.

Of course. recycling spaces for paper, metal and plastic are always a pleasant sight common room, and even in the dorms if the hostel is big enough. The kitchen, guest rooms and any other place should be provided with recycling baskets for newspapers, white paper, glass, aluminum, cardboard or plastic. The bins in public areas should be noticeable enough to make the process as easy as possible. Most of the people using such recycling bins use products from recycled materials as well, so this is something else that makes it even easier to spot. Recycled paper products are among the most common, either unbleached or bleached using a chlorine-free process.

2. Saving energy and water

Water usage can be reduced in many ways, and it’s not very complicated to spot a hostel where the staff behaves with ecologic responsibility. Some of the signs are the low flow shower head, or the sink aerators. Toilets can have low flow devices as well, or even toilet tank fill diverters.

The type of light bulbs a hostel uses is a clear indication of commitment to eco-friendliness… or the lack of it. Image via Fox News.

LED light bulbs are perhaps the easiest eco friendly mark a hostel can have. The carbon footprint is the lowest there is, they last between five and even twenty times longer than the normal ones and really safe. Along with these LED lights (which you’ll find used on the EXIT signs as well), there are usually sensors in the common places that aren’t that frequently crossed. The heating and air conditioning is always turned off when the common spaces aren’t populated, and the drapes are closed during the summer months.

Eco friendly hostels use daylight as much as possible: on the lobby, kitchen, living room, and some places even have skylights installed all over the place to make the rooms brighter. Energy star appliances are regularly used here, and you’ll find that there’s a constant care for combining usefulness with just a sign of caring. For instance, the washing machines, otherwise just devices to get a job done, can speak a lot of the staff’s priorities. A newer model which consumes both less water and energy should always be more appreciated than an old crock trying to do things right just one more time.

Some eco-hostels shut down lights everywhere, only allowing the bed lamps to be opened. I’m not really sure how I feel about this. Sure it saves light and you can label it as eco-friendly, but one can’t stop but wonder if this is actually just a way to save some money.

3. Cutting costs

Buying in bulk. If someone from the staff comes home with a car full of all kinds of products, you should know that they may be saving money actually. Buying in bulk saves extra trips and even money, if there are en-gross products among the things they bought. Organic, fair trade products will always be among the things that someone preoccupied of eco friendly issues would buy. From bedding and guest robes or hair and body care to non-toxic cleaners, sanitizers and paints or pesticides.

4. The outside

Image via Kyoto Hostel.

A good eco-hostel will always provide the opportunity for the travelers to use green transportation, by having bicycles hich can be rented for a small price every day. This way, not only does the hostel stay eco, but the travelers get to be more close to the nature during their stay as well.

Especially during the summer, nothing yells ‘eco preoccupied’ more than garden dining. There are many ways in which hostels can transform their courtyards into certified green restaurants. Instead of buying organic, locally grown food, the staff sometimes prefer to employ one or two other people from spring to autumn to plant an organic garden from which all the food will be made for the travelers. If you’re familiar with plants, drought resistant native plants are usually used in the garden, in order to assure the minimum of materials that need to be consumed for their maintenance.

So, hopefully I’ve made it a bit easier to figure out if a hostel is really green or not. Of course there are exceptions to the rule and there are many elements I could have still added, but I think that these are the main elements. What do you think? Did I miss anything? What are your favorite eco-friendly hostels?

How to work at hostel in Europe and travel for free

What is it about?

We’ve all been there: you’re falling for a country so much that you’d like to spend the entire summer there (or winter). Here, I will provide a solution to your problem: working at a hostel. You not only get to live in a country and make a decent living, but you also get to meet lots of new cool people, and at the same time, you’re connected to all the touristic events. What’s not to like?

There are lots of people, especially working in hostels, who used to be travelers and then happened to have a crush on some place and remained there. The good news is that there’s an ascending market for jobs in hostels because of the increasing number of people who ask for this kind of service. It’s partly why there are niche hostels, from the very popular party ones to chill-out-hippie and family hostels. Truth is, Europe’s starting to appreciate this kind of accommodation more and more and this translates to more jobs for those who’ve always dreamed of wandering through mother Europe. The ‘deal’  we’re talking about is just as simple as this: search for a hostel in need of more staff, pack, go there and either volunteer (just food and accommodation) or ask for a paid position. Either way, visit for free.

How to make this come true?

First of all, start with the beginning: search on the online platforms. The trick is, and this applies particularly to very famous destinations, there’s a big chance for the hostels in the biggest cities to have listed their working opportunities. Some of the most popular sites to begin your search are HostelWorld, Hostelbookers, Booking.com. Of course, this depends on the competition. If you’re interested in a big city but you’re not looking for work in the peak season, you may not find the offers online. The early summer is the best period to look for hostel jobs, but you can do it sometime else as well.

Either way, if you didn’t find a hostel looking to complete their staff where you want to go, the best solution generator is The European Union Federation of Youth Hostels Associations. According to this institution, the best alternative is looking for individual hostels for summer jobs opportunities, since there is no central database. Among the reasons for which they’re suggesting this, is the fact that some of the hostels which didn’t post their offers online may offer you better opportunities than the ones that did.

Photo Credits: the-working-traveller.com

Photo Credits: the-working-traveller.com

So what you should do is just look for hostels and call or email them personally. This way, you communicate that you’re actually interested and this is not just some Sunday idea. And since you’re already perceived as being serious, it wouldn’t kill to let them know a little about your previous experience in anything that’s related to the field, from waitressing to cleaning or customer service. Heck, just tell them you’re willing to work and learn, hostel staff are generally travelers, and they appreciate honesty.

Another thing to be taken into consideration is speaking the language – if not fluently, at least conversationally decent. English is a must, especially if you want to work at reception, but it’s preferred for you to have some knowledge of their own language. It’s both a sign of interest in their culture and a necessity as an employee.

As about the specifics, there are some countries regarding to which you’ll have to ask for information at your consulate or embassy, but it’s really nothing serious to worry about. The procedure isn’t as complicated as it may sound. But there are some glitches. For instance, Switzerland doesn’t allow visitors to volunteer, England and France only allow the visitors to volunteer for a period of 90 days, after which there are visa and special work requirements.

Photo Credits: 3.bp.blogspot.com

Photo Credits: 3.bp.blogspot.com

But supposing you found a hostel, before accepting an offer try to research some of their life-style specifics, along with the costs that come with those. For instance, the tourism related figures and the cost of living are very important. Traveling through volunteering in a hostel isn’t that much about poetry and if you don’t do the right things at first it will be hard to enjoy it. And since this kind of beats the point of going abroad, don’t let yourself put off by this little research you have to do. After all, it’s your dream we’re talking about and it would better be worth some effort.

What to do?

About the types of jobs, there’s really a variety of things you can choose from. Depending on your personal and professional experience, you can be anything from cashier to reservation desk officer or waiter. Since most of the hostels won’t pay if you ask to volunteer, you may be required to work part-time in your alternating days. But it’s not necessary.

For instance, if you’re accustomed to the service sector, you can ask for a paid job and even for a management position. Of course, this way the procedure would have to be a little more professional before you actually get to have the job. For managing positions, it’s really necessary to have some prior experience with hostels, otherwise nobody would hire someone who’s unqualified. You have to show some perspective of how the hostel is run and to understand the key aspects of the job.

Photo Credits: thesinginglamb.com

Photo Credits: thesinginglamb.com

Even if you don’t find the kind of offer you think is best suited for you, you can accept a post on the reception for a couple of months, starting from the premise that they’ll promote you once they see your experience. For many of the hostel owners, it’s hard to tell who’s good for the position and who’s just good with words, so you have to give them time. Plus, it’s the traveling experience you’re looking for, isn’t it?

Where am I going?

If there’s no special place you’re looking for and you haven’t decided where but you know you want to, here are some possibilities.

Eastern Europe. Romania, Bulgaria, Poland or Ukraine are not very old on the hostel scene so they won’t be very eager to pay you. But if you’re willing to volunteer, you’ll have some amazing experiences. They’re pretty open to new cultures and they love tourists. Not just the mix of cultures, but the chance to make a foreigner speak nicely of their country is one of the best things they could think of. It’s not just the image they’re talking about (essentially because media’s not very easy on them), but it’s the experience. So yes -they may not be able to literally pay you, but they’ll be as hospitable and sweet as they know to. The countries are also quite cheap, so that may make up for the lack of salary

 

– As about the ex-Yugoslavia and Greece, there’s a good chance you won’t find any opportunities here. They’re more bitter than the rest, but once you’ve got a job there you’re going to be treated with respect. Turkey is another possible destination. Due to their growing tourism you’ll most certainly be accepted to volunteer, but you shouldn’t expect to be paid properly, and your role there will be just to make sure the hostel’s cut multicultural environment off their must-have list. You’ll be treated nicely, they’re good fellas, but you won’t make profit. The good news is for most of these countries you don’t have to worry too much, since they’re not the most wealthy nations in the EU, the prices are decent and you won’t be spending much.

 

Western Europe. Here’s where there are most of your chances to get a paid position. Of course, most of the hostels offer the possibility to volunteer, but if you’re going for a longer period of time, you should ask for the paid one. Of course, saving up some money from this business is quite an impossible mission. But you’ll have the possibility to see the country, visit the most amazing places and not starve in a carton box while at it. As about any country between Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal or Italy, if you happen to speak their official language and have some experience in the filed, they’ll be more than welcome to hire you for good. If you don’t speak the language, there’s still hope! If you’re a native English speaker (or at least speak it fluently), there’s a good chance you might get a job, especially in a multicultural environment.

Still in doubt? Basic Pros and Cons

Pro: You’ll meet wonderful people, from different environment and cultures and it will be just pure bliss to share stories and experiences.

Con: You may not always have time to talk to them as much as you’d like to, because of your job. Also, some of them may not be interested to talk to the employees, depending on how smug they are.

Pro: You get to visit as much as you wish in your free time outside your shifts. And the costs are less because you don’t have to pay for food and accommodation.

Con: If it’s peak season, there’s a good chance you’ll be working more than you’d expect.

Pro: You can offer people invitation to your country and even get some yourself, this way starting a small network of people who visit each others’ countries. Or just have some meaningful contact with different individuals.

Oh, and the biggest one of all: You get to spend time in that city you love so much, and live an enriching experience which you will carry along forever.

 

Partying at a hostel 101: the DOs and DON’Ts

 

The worst parties are the ones where all you do is drink.

 

BEFORE THE FUN

First things first. If you’re planning on partying, the first step is choosing the right hostel. There are many ways of picking the right place according to what you want your holiday to be like. The first one’s reading hostel reviews and looking it up on the internet. The downside of this is that, depending on the site, there may also be misleading or downright false reviews sometimes. There’s a lot of information about hostels online, the only challenge is separating the good, accurate information.

On the other hand, there’s the second way of picking where to go – word of mouth. Ask your friends, or simply listen to their stories over a beer when they’re back from their holidays and you’ll get yourself a pretty nice list of party hostels in a year of two.

So, now you have a place to stay. Keep in mind that many hostels don’t really allow partying, so look for signs. Do the lights go out at 10 or 12? Are there any older people, or families with kids? Is it more like a student hostel, or like a home away from home kind of place? Look around you an keep an eye out, and when in doubt, just ask the staff.

It’s really important to start well. Before booking the room(s), make sure that you’re going in the right season You wouldn’t want to miss all the fun because you’re traveling in extra season. Planning is an important part of fun holidays, especially because there are other people involved – the more, the merrier. It usually pays off to arrange your vacation, if you can, on the local events and accommodation availability. So do plan your trip appropriately, even if it’s just for a few days.

Whenever you’re not sure who you’re going to find at the hostel when you arrive, you should take some friends with you just to make sure that you’re not going to end up drinking alone in your room.

Starting the fun

There are two major things to take into consideration whenever you wish to have fun: how not to bother people around you and how to make the most out of your stay. Since the limiting factor is usually other people, let’s start with that.

a) Don’t be too loud. Especially in the dorm. And especially after people have gone to sleep. Also, even if the hostel has a common room or a garden or something, make sure that you’re not making too much noise in the rooms.

Also, when coming back in the room, if people are sleeping, step out of the party mode. Sure you might want to talk some more with your new friends, but try to keep it down and respect the people who are sleeping there. Also, try not to kick stuff over in the room too much (I’m usually guilty of that one).

Something which also happens sometimes is snoring – try not to fall asleep on your back if you’re the snoring type.

Also, if you know you’re gonna arrive drunk, politely ask for the bottom bed – if you don’t have it. Explain the situation to your room mates, and they’ll likely change places with you.

You have to keep in mind that sex in a shared bedroom is not the best of ideas. Sure, you may want to express your newly found passion, but there are other places where you could head to.

b) Don’t leave a mess behind you. There are lots of things to be told about this one as well. Partying is messy, and hostels shouldn’t be messy. Even the world’s most popular party hostels hate travelers who are too messy and can’t be responsible after a night full of fun. To cut a long story short: clean after yourself. If you can’t do it in the night, at least do it first thing when you wake up.

Photo Credits: usahostel.com

c) Know when to stop. Clearly, you want to remember the party, so stop drinking whenever you feel you’re having enough fun – and if your answer to this is never, keep in mind that tomorrow night there’s another party to attend. Don’t try to make it all at once. The coolest thing about partying at hostels is meeting new people, from different cultures and backgrounds, not getting hammered (you can always do that at home or in the club, whatever).

d) When there’s no inspiration, play board games! They’re lovely if your whole idea of a party means staying on a round table, making yourself comfortable on the couch and joke over the most smallest thing until the next morning, over a glass of wine. They’re not the most popular activities in a hostel, but the purpose is to have fun with the people you’re playing. Also, if you just feel like taking a small break from the hardcore partying you’ve had in days before, board games are excellent for chilling an relaxing in pleasant company.

e) Engage with other travelers… You may feel like there’s not much to discuss with others, especially if you’re not a conversation starter like myself. So just start with small questions. What they do, what they like, how they feel about the city and so on.

f) … and to the staff! Keep in mind, hostel staff is not like a hotel staff – they’re almost certainly travelers just like you, and would love a little relaxation and meaningful conversation. Or a random conversation and a beer, that works too. Nobody goes into the hostel business to make money (or at least these unfortunate cases are very rare). They start a hostel because they love traveling, they love travelers, and they want to make a living from it. Seriously, some of the best people I’ve ever met while traveling were hostel staff!

g) Party outside the hostel! Some hostels have a bar, or a garden or a designated place for hanging around and having fun – but not all of them. You may also want to change the environment a bit, and the great advantage of partying outside the hostel is the possibility to meet fun locals. So ask your friends (and some of the staff, when they’re off shift) to join you. No planning required, just walk on the street and ask locals where are the nice partying places – there’s no telling what you will find. From local myths to urban curiosities, student bars and much more, just open your mind an have fun!

In other words, try to do what you would in your home town and do follow the type of behavior you’d recommend yourself as a host – meeting people, trying the typically local drinks first, trying not to spend all the night drinking the local beverages, and feeling like yourself.

Of course, it’s much safer to go out with the hostel staff, because this way there’d be someone to keep you out of trouble (even in the biggest European cities there are problems in some districts regarding the criminality).

All in all, if you’re in love with the idea of partying because you think there’s more to it than drinking, try to be as diverse as you can in the activities you’re choosing for the night.

Who stays at hostels? A short review of what to search for

Suppose you’ve already packed for a destination where you’re about to visit. Suppose you’re not traveling alone, you’re going with your significant other, family, friends or just coworkers. There are lots of people who don’t opt for hostels because they start from the premises that the only people they’ll find here are students. And it’s not entirely wrong, because this is how hostels became popular in the first place. On the other hand, this perspective is not necessarily true either.

There are all kinds of hostels popular for being family-friendly or partying-friendly or whatever-you-need-friendly. All you have to do is some research before actually booking a place in case you’re traveling on a budget or you simply want to visit the world like a traveler, not like a usual tourist. The chances for you to magically go to the type of hostel you’d like to stay at without reading something about it at first are quite small, unfortunately. This is why you should first look for location and then see the reviews from people who’ve already been there in order to make the right decision.

However, after you’ve done some online documentation, all you have to do is book the hostel. Just in case, we’ve made a list with the most probable kinds of people you’ll be seeing in hostel.

 

First of all, it’s the party animals – the ones who don’t travel for the touristic attractions, but for the social networking, the people, the culture, the fun. They’re the kind of people who want to have fun like all the natives from all the states and places they’ve visited. If you’re lucky enough to catch them sober, you’ll see they’re very friendly people and you’ll be surprised how educated they are, even though the stereotype says they’ve never followed any serious academic assessments. Of course, it may be not the solid general culture that will amaze you, but the amazing experiences they’ve had all over the world, the stunning places they’ve seen between hangovers and the awesome people they’ve met. And if you’re cool enough, they may even end up talking about you in their future trips, who knows? They’re always prepared with tons of alcohol and they make friends in the morning while they’re still drunk to have some new company for the night. It’s not a rule, but in the popular hostels for partying they’re the last ones to leave the premises and the first ones to raise their glasses in the air every other night. If they’re really interested in you and you seem to be quite a distinct character they may even join you to visit all the attractions as soon as you’ll invite them.

 

Then, it’s the couples. Usually young ones and not very sociable, they either spend their time exclusively together or you’ll barely see them – leaving in the morning and arriving after midnight. Of course, the older couples who’ve started the trip just to socialize and meet new awesome people are a little more friendly and – surprisingly enough – they don’t prefer couples necessarily when socializing, so telling them to join your party or play some board games in the late evening after dining someplace nice would sound like a great idea for both parts. Depending on the kind of couple, some of them prefer to stay at family hostels, where there’s no one to disturb their romantic time together and everybody will treat them like a family – they’re going to be one someday soon after all, right?

 

As about the families, they’re almost never seen at the party hostels and it’s only normal like this. All they want is spend some relaxing time together away from their everyday life full of new job assignments and grown-up problems. As a rule, they’re more polite than eager to socialize and meet new people, the purpose of their trip is far from meeting new interesting people. However, if it happens, they’re going to be nice, spend some time with you, and treat you like you’re one of their own. Once you get to be friends with them there are really good chances to keep in touch even after you’re back home. Again, if you’re nice enough and not too pushy (they hate this, but – hey – who doesn’t?) you may even end up planning some trips together in the future (mostly during the holidays, they don’t have too much free time to enjoy roaming around.

Taking your kids on a trip with you and staying at a hostel is another good idea – especially since there are lots of other people doing this too. And if you’re not with a large group of friends (who may even have their kids with them as well) making friends with other families who’ve brought their children on holiday is a great idea. Your kid is also allowed to have fun, so don’t be too selfish before denying him any kind of socialization with other families.

 

The students are not the first category of people who choose hostels as accommodation, but they’re pretty attached to this kind of life on the road. There are many types of students as well: the ones who came to other country for a scholarship for instance tend to be more serious, choose a hostel where to stay during their entire semester (or period of study) and keep themselves busy with school-related problems. You’ll see them partying, but mostly on weekends and during the holidays if they haven’t returned at home to see their families. And there are the students who are either dropouts or have decided to interrupt their education for a year or two in order to visit the world, get to know people and cultures and gain some useful life experience. Of course, some of them are the party animals we were talking about in the first paragraphs. But not necessarily, others you may see always keeping a book on their shelf (another one every day), or carrying their guitar wherever, some bohemian, others just hipsters, but pretty different from the party animals. The distinction is easy to make – these ones are more preoccupied to see places and get to have some interesting conversations rather than just get drunker than the previous night.

 

And, of course, there are the full grown-ups. People who were sent on delegation to work from another place and find hotels impersonal or just can’t afford one often decide to stay at a hostel. Of course, they’ll carefully choose the most calm and comfortable option, the most silent of the places (even though it’s not in the center of the city – this way it’s cheaper as well!). Quiet places are what they look for most of the times and if there’s one category they best fit with, it’s clearly the family hostels! Because they’re away from their families and friends for a long period of time, they often get to be friends with the receptionists and other people from the staff who will soon enough treat him as family more than just another tourist. If you’re looking for a nice place where you can enjoy the sunrise and sunset on a balcony or terrace drinking your coffee while planning what more there is to visit, the kind of hostel you’re looking for is the one in which the full grown up on a delegation would choose. And searching for some reviews online is not that hard to do, especially if you can’t afford (because of either time or money) more than one or two trips per year (and sometimes not even that). If you’re generally stressed out or very tired, accommodation should matter a lot more than if you’re just casual about your every trip.

Don’t forget to book in advance so that your research will not have been in vain!

 

Best places to stay at in Stockholm. A guide for budget travelers

The Scandinavian lands are amazing for any traveler, be you backpacker on a budget or simply interested in visiting as much as possible. But in order for this to happen, it’s really necessary that you look for the best places where you can stay. Stockholm’s not one of the European’s most expensive cities to visit, in spite of the great economic level of Sweden. It’s even recommended to stay at a hostel because, besides being addicted to technology, the people here can be very friendly if you only give them the time to get to know you at least a little. As about the travelers, most of the people who decide to stay at hostels in Stockholm are some of the world’s most typical backpackers – they love partying, they like comfort and didn’t forget their manners at home. But it never kills to have a list of the best places where it’s most likely to find the things you’re expecting.

1. Backpackers City Hostel is your best choice if what you’re looking for in a great accommodation is comfort and impecable services. Talking to the staff here can transform even your worst moods into amazing mornings, they’re always ready to help you with any kind of service or information that you’d like having and what’s really to be appreciated is that they’re not just polite – they’re genuinely friendly and like to enrich their experiences by making friends with the tourists. They’re not too loud or overly friendly wither, so if you’re not the most talkative person in the world it shouldn’t be a problem either. You’ll find that privacy is really respected here and if there’s something you really should be taking into consideration is not to bring too much luggage because the rooms aren’t the biggest ones you’ll find at hostels. The problem, however, isn’t about this hostel in particular, but about beginners’ guide to backpacking and/or hitchicking. Being placed right in the center of the city makes it really suitable for anyone who’s purpose in Stockholm is visiting and the best part is that you don’t even have to choose between this and socializing. Not meeting new people that you’ll love talking to (or drinking a beer, playing board games) because of the huge common areas. The living and the TV area are always full of people who, just like you, made a purpose out of talking and socializing with fellow strangers.

 

 

2. Best Hostel City is a pretty colorful place, and you’ll love it especially if you appreciate beer – the place used to be a beer factory before it was turned into a hostel. As about the facilities here, you’ll find free lockers, free Wi-Fi, rooms with either shared or private bathroom according to your preferences, a continental daily free breakfast made of cereals, bread ans jelly, along with tea and coffee at your service the entire day. Clothes hangers, laundy facilities, board games, all kinds of magazines to introduce you in the Scandinavian world, computers at your service. And if you’d like to stay close to the center of the city, you’ll be more than glad to find out that the commercial street Drottninggatan is only 300 meters far from the hostel and a 15 minutes walk to the old town that, by the way, you can’t afford to miss visiting. Great and functioning kitchen equipment is at your service during your entire stay as well, there’s hot water ofr whenever you want to take a shower regardless of the moment of the day. Another huge plus of this hostel is the amazing prices. This is indeed the kind of hostel where there’s nothing you could complain about. Of course, personally I would recommend visiting the place (and by place, I mean Stockholm) during the spring or summer time and if so the very colorfully arranged rooms are only going to make your days better and sunnier. What makes it look very sophisticated and people come back over and over is the extreme simplicity used in designing both the rooms and the common areas. It seems somehow bohemian, given the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff and the refined air offered by the very central position. It’s really worth taking into consideration and it’s close to everywhere you’d like to be.

 

3. In case you’re looking for a way to make your trip special, Gällnö is where you must go to. It’s a little outside Stockholm itself, and the access is only made by boat. But it’s really amazing and worth the effory. This island is one of the Sweden’s most appreciated places because of the serenity and tranquility of the place. And if you come to think of it, there’s absolutely no reason to find it otherwise than amzing because after a long day on the city rush when you’ve visited all the attractions in order not to miss to many sights while you’re in Sweden, sleeping in a peaceful place that looks like tanek out from a fairy tale isn’t really that bad. In fact, I can’t think of anything more you could ask for.

The forests, the rocky vegetation and the beaches make the whole experience add to the beauty of the capital city you’ll be visiting. It feels really like being in two separate places at the same time, just like instead of one trip you’ll be having one at day and a completely different one after nightfall. Besides the advantages making it a great hostel in itself, there’s a touristic background making you wish not to miss it. You should really book in advance because as fairy as it sounds there’s a high chance that you’ll find it entirely full because of the amazing arguments above.

Not more than 30 people live on this island all year long and the hostel is pretty flawless itself. Depending on fitting in some criteria, there are all kinds of discounts and concessions available, the self-catering kitchen is equipped with all the necessary things to cook yourself an amazing dinner, you can rent bicycles if you’d like to get to know the area and visit the island (there are some attractions here as well), credit card is accepted, because it’s not quite in the middle of civilization you’ll find a bar/café here to suit your needs along with a basic store. The sheets are for hire and there are family rooms available for whoever wants some privacy during the stay. You can find a beach at the hostel and if it doesn’t suit you, there are some other ones available on the island.

 

4. Fridhemsplan is really close to the city center, in case you don’t like the last hostel you’ve just finished reading about. It’s Stockholm’s largest and one of the most modern hostels. Among the basic facilities you’ll find using the kitchen, 24 hours reception, credit card is accepted, the Wi-Fi is free and ready to use, the beds are hotel-like – very comfortable – and the laundry and towel services are free, as well as the breakfast buffet served every day. From bacon to eggs, many kinds of cheese, ham, bread, yogurt, vegetable, juice, coffee or tea you’ll find everything here at your service just to make your day as good as possible.

Being placed next to the city center, there are lots of things to see and visit just at your feet so oversleeping a little in the morning isn’t a problem if you decide to stay here. The staff’s very friendly and polite as well, and the place is really clean. It’s really not like a hostel thanks to the modern equipment, making it look more like a hotel with hostel pricing policy. The showers are excellent, especially after a long day with lots of walking, and even the shared bathrooms are spotless thanks to the effectiveness of the staff.

 

 

Booking hostels online. The ABC of important sites

We all know how important it is to find the perfectly suitable accommodation so serve your needs and to be affordable at the same time. It’s even more important if you know that over 70 per cent of the travelers who aren’t happy with their last vacation associate the most unpleasant happenings with their accommodation and you wouldn’t want that happening to you. So that’s that: you’re a budget traveler looking for a place to stay. The thing is you really have to take lots of things into consideration when choosing a hostel. Off the top of your head it is the quality-price report, and yes, it’s usually the most important. Another thing to be taken seriously is the area where the hostel is, as well as the kind of people visiting the place.

 

You may pick different hostels from the same trip if you’re traveling with your girlfriend the first time and with your friends or parents the second. Unfortunately, hostels’ sites aren’t always reliable. This is when a third actor comes into discussion: the specialized sites giving reviews from people who have been to some hostels and are willing to share their experiences. And while not all the users are fair, most of them don’t lie on the internet because at their turn they choose the hostels on basis of others’ reviews. So the first thing we know about these sites is that they’re self-regulatory. The second thing you’d like to know are, perhaps, the most popular and trustworthy sites of this kind.

1. Hostels.com is the place where you’ll find over three and a half million guest reviews from people who have visited different hostels and B&Bs (Bed & Breakfast for the ones who aren’t familiar with the term) from over 180 countries of the world, a number of over 35, 000 accommodation places. The review system makes the site trustworthy, and the grades and stars given are to be seriously regarded before making such a choice. For instance, we wouldn’t really recommend a place with an overall review of less than 75%, while 70 per cent means you should really run away. Because each of the services in reviewed in particular, you have even more opportunities to choose from. If hostel A and B offer the approximate same services but B seems to be cleaner as the reviews show and you’re a sort of a freak about this (or it’s simply something very important to you), your decision’s already made. Plus, the property type doesn’t only include hostels so if you’re looking for a different type of accommodation this site’s appropriate for any kinds of needs.

This is, perhaps, the most popular site of hostel bookings. The amazing thing besides ranking any hostel according to the travelers who have submitted reviews and comments is that there are no booking fees. So besides being a reliable source with an amazing capacity, it’s also a place to be trusted. The accommodation you’re looking for is not only found to best fit your interests, but its booking price is also automatically transformed into your country’s currency so that the math’s easier for you. Everything here is designed to be user-friendly and reliable.

 

2. Hostels on lonelyplanet.com  is a place where you can book and search for hostels without any problem. Its over 27,000 destinations included cover most of the world’s touristic attractions. The fact that lonelyplanet.com is such a successful site is the perfect guarantee that you’re not wasting your time and the source is reliable. Also, the booking made here is one of the most secure on the internet, mainly because of their reputation and the responsibility that comes with it. Plus, a great thing on this site is that you can also take care of other issues of your trip, such as mapping some important key destinations you’d love to visit or finding an affordable car rental company to best fit your budget.

 

3. Hostelbookers.com is one of the best specialized sites giving you in real time the possibility to know how many rooms are free where you want to make the reservations, as well as what’s the most affordable hostel near some specific destinations or what’s the starting price for a bed in a hostel (depending on your specifics: if you’d like it with shared or private bathroom, in a room of 6, or 4 or maybe in a private one, if you’d like the breakfast included etc.). From apartments and guesthouses to campsites, any information you need is on this site. On Trustpilot, the site is ranked as being excellent (with a score of 9.3 out of 10). Again, as high ranking bring responsibility, there’s a clear case of site doing its job.

 

4. Hostelz.com is, finally, the fifth very popular web destination for hostel bookings. Over 43,000 listings in almost 10,000 cities make it the biggest database of its kind currently on the internet. So the search results here are, most importantly, diversified. Besides providing updated photos and prices of the suggested places, you’ll also find (sometimes) shockingly honest reviews from travelers who have been disappointed or, on the contrary, very satisfied with their choices. The community of travelers who vote here are not only trustworthy (as are all the other ones), but very open in saying the most minor things that can make the difference from horrible to decent or from fine to amazing.

 

 

 

European accommodation that accepts bitcoin

 

Now that Russia’s declared bitcoin as illegal, you may ask yourselves where in the world this form of payment’s still accepted. For those of you who don’t understand what we’re talking about, bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment system as well as an internationally accepted currency that is digital, also called cryptocurrency since it uses cryptography systems for the payment to take place. The payment process is called mining and it is used to describe the entire procedure. People who use bitcoin have registered to sell or buy bitcoin on internationally accredited sites.

Especially during 2008 and 2011 there have been many hostels, hotels and companies accepting bitcoin as a valid form of payment, but the number of businesses to accept it today is very low because of the illicit activities it’s associated with and the major lack of transparency in the system which makes it impossible to have a proper leverage, reason for which the value of the currency has experienced a major drop during the last two years.

However, if you’re in the position to still have bitcoin and you find it useless, here’s a list of places you can visit that still accept bitcoin as a form of payment.

Teddy Bear Hostel, Riga

Latvia’s a great place to visit and we’re sure you know all the possible reasons that make it famous, and this hostel doesn’t only accept bitcoin but independently it’s a great place for staying whenever you decide to visit. You can check-in at any hour since the reception program is 24/7, you’ve got all the commodities including free Wi-Fi, free guest PC in case you didn’t bring the technology with you, free tea and coffee, great staff – very friendly and willing to help with whatever information you’d like to know. And apart from this, you’ll find the bicycle hire, pets are allowed in private rooms and you’ll have a free simple breakfast every morning. The security system is up to date and working, you’ve got lockers, the neighborhood is a peaceful place right in the middle of the city so there’s nothing to be worried about.

 

Bed and breakfast Del Corso, Napoli, Italy

Just like the previous hostel we’ve recommended, this is not just a place for bitcoin rich people. We’d clearly advise you to go there even if you’d pay on euro or any other currency; it’s not the type of option to offer because it fits one single criterion. In fact, it really matches any kind of expectancy. The hostel is friendly for any type of possible traveler: either you’re having a holiday with your family, your children or your significant other or you’re on a business trip, there’s nothing more you could wish. The staff is so warm and friendly that’s going to make you come back, the rooms are always spotless, and the location of the hostel is central. As long as you book in advance, this is the best and safest place to be.

 

Hotel Coppede, Rome

The third place is a hotel and what most recommends it is not accepting digital payment, but the fact that the atmosphere is very hostel-ish. Hotel Coppede is a great choice for anyone out there who’s not a very limited budget traveler, but a bohemian budget traveler who sometimes decides to spend some extra money on elegance and comfort. Located in Parioli, one of the central neighborhoods of Rome, this is exactly where you’d go to feel the true Italian atmosphere – a three star hotel to make you feel bourgeois in a specific way.

 

Youth hostels. Good or bad?

There is a huge prejudice about youth hostels, and not only among the fully grown-ups, but some of the travelers of the young generation have it to. What you should know, however, is that this way of thinking isn’t necessarily accurate and doesn’t really apply to all of them. Anyway, this reputation is sometimes deserved, especially during the hight of the summer season, when there’s a huge chance of finding large groups of students partying, while other youth hostels have more restrictive policies about alcohool, parties and noise after at late hours.

 

PROS

First of all, it’s cheap. All the budget travelers should take youth hostels into consideration, since they’re a highly more convenient alternative to hotels, whatever the conditions. No, you won’t have room service and if you’re not paying attention to what you’re booking you won’t even have towels, but if you’re not willing to overpay for a place to sleep it’s high time you consider them. Plus, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of people stay in hostels and some of them (the ones who travel periodically) even have some prefered places. Perhaps you’d be surprised to find out that not only backpack tourists prefer hostels, but business man and university professors also do sometimes. Moreover, as there even are some companies huge whose menegerial structures are leadership oriented and who prefer to make systematic investment oriented towards the best price-service ratio. As you’ll never see a manager of IKEA flying for business purposes at first class, you’ll see other examples of economical policies.

 

Second, it’s easy to get information and reviews, so if you’re planning you’re trip in advance there’s no chance to make mistakes. There are, however, things that you won’t find on the official sites of the hostels you want to book, but there are specialized forums and sites which specially provide such information and reviews from people who have actually been there. Plus, there are international quality standards that have to be respected in order for the hostel to function, for safety, cleanliness and comfort, so there’s nothing major you should worry about.

 

Third, it’s the location. Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of the hostels is that, because they’re not very big, they’re more widespread than the hotels. Which means they’re more practical, more easier to find, more traveler-friendly in terms of getting from point A to point B in less than half a day during rush hours. Plus, you won’t only find them in the center of the biggest cities in a country, but in smaller ones or at the outskirts of cities, closer to where you need to get. And if you’re not traveling with business purposes and you’re just planning a holiday, you’ll be happy to hear that hostels are more homey and cozy, more personal than hotels. You’ll find one wherever you want to go, to the countryside, high on the mountains, in the heart of the medieval sides of big cities, everywhere.

 

Cultural interests are important as well. You can’t really understand a culture until you get to know the people. And for this you have to meet them first. Hostels are the best places to find friendly people, eager to talk about their own trips and experiences, as well as about the culture from the places they come from. As about you, it’s like being an informal ambasador of your own country and culture. The way you behave would get to be perceived as the way people in your country are, reason for which most of the people you’ll find are going to be friendly and close. Plus, the socialization is often encouraged by the hosts who create leisure activities, which make your entire experience billion times more worth it.

It’s often said that the devil lies in the small things. It’s true. Be it the possibility of making your own breakfast, playing cards in the living room with other tourists after having visited the place, or just listening to music while drinking your coffee, talking to some interesting people you’re never going to see. All these things make the experiences more profound and your stay culturally rich.

 

CONS

Clearly, hostels aren’t the right place to go if what you want is privacy. Really, you won’t find any. And if you’re not a people person at all, you may even think you made a booking straight to hell. Most of the bathrooms are shared, most of the times, there’s no chance for you to be alone while drinking your coffee in the morning or eating your breakfast. Plus, there’s noise. Sometimes a lot, especially at night and if there are other groups of young people accommodated.

Finally, there’s the age limits. Most of the hostels youth hostels only give priority to people who are under 26, so you won’t always be able to find accomodation during the traveling seasons and holidays.