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Can I Book Hostels As I Go When Backpacking


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Annabelle Glynn



When it comes to backpacking, one of the biggest decisions you need to make is where to stay. While hotels and resorts may be the go-to choice for some travelers, many budget-conscious adventurers opt for hostels. Hostels are not only affordable but also offer a unique opportunity to connect with fellow travelers from around the world.


One common dilemma faced by backpackers is whether to book hostels in advance or simply go with the flow and book as they go. Both options have their own pros and cons, and the right choice depends on various factors such as your travel style, flexibility, and personal preferences.


In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of booking hostels as you go. We will also provide some useful tips to help you make the most of this approach. So, whether you’re a spontaneous traveler or someone who loves to plan ahead, keep reading to find out if booking hostels as you go is the way to go for your backpacking adventure.


Advantages of Booking Hostels As You Go

Booking hostels as you go can offer several benefits that cater to the needs and preferences of backpackers. Here are some advantages to consider:

  1. Flexibility: One of the primary advantages of booking hostels as you go is the freedom and flexibility it provides. When you don’t have a fixed itinerary, you have the freedom to stay longer in a destination you love or move on quickly from a place that didn’t meet your expectations.
  2. Better Deals: By booking hostels as you go, you can take advantage of last-minute deals and promotions. Hostels often offer discounted rates for any remaining beds or rooms, especially during low season or weekdays. This can help you save money and allocate your budget to other experiences during your backpacking trip.
  3. Adapt to Changing Circumstances: Backpacking journeys are often filled with unexpected twists and turns. By booking hostels as you go, you can adapt to changes in your travel plans without the restriction of pre-booked accommodations. If you decide to extend your stay in a specific location or spontaneously change your route, you have the flexibility to adjust your accommodation accordingly.
  4. Meeting Other Travelers: Hostels are known for their vibrant social atmosphere, making them a great place to meet other travelers. By booking as you go, you increase the chances of staying in hostels where you can connect with like-minded individuals, share stories, and create lasting memories together. This can greatly enhance your backpacking experience and open doors to new friendships and potential travel buddies.
  5. Exploring Off-the-Beaten-Path: When you have the option to book hostels as you go, it allows you to discover hidden gems and explore lesser-known destinations. You can be spontaneous in your travel choices, allowing you to follow recommendations from locals, fellow travelers, or serendipitous encounters. This flexibility can lead to unique and enriching experiences that may not be found in guidebooks or popular tourist itineraries.

These advantages make booking hostels as you go an appealing option for backpackers who value flexibility, cost savings, and the excitement of unplanned adventures. However, it’s important to consider the potential disadvantages before adopting this approach, which we will explore in the next section.


Disadvantages of Booking Hostels As You Go

While booking hostels as you go can offer several advantages, there are also some potential downsides that you need to consider:

  1. Limited Availability: By choosing to book hostels on the go, you may encounter limited availability, especially during peak travel seasons or in popular destinations. This can be a challenge if you have specific preferences or requirements for your accommodation. It’s possible that you may not always find a hostel that meets your criteria, such as location, amenities, or price.
  2. Added Stress: For some backpackers, the uncertainty of not having a confirmed accommodation in advance can be stressful. It adds an additional layer of planning and decision-making as you navigate through different options and availability, particularly in unfamiliar destinations or when faced with unexpected circumstances.
  3. Higher Costs in Some Cases: While last-minute deals can provide cost savings, it’s important to note that in certain situations, booking hostels as you go may lead to higher costs. If you’re traveling during peak season or in high-demand destinations, last-minute availability may come with higher prices due to limited supply.
  4. Less Choice: When you book hostels in advance, you have the opportunity to carefully research and choose the right accommodation that suits your preferences. By booking as you go, your options may be more limited, and you may have to compromise on certain factors like location, facilities, or atmosphere.
  5. Uncertainty: If you prefer having a clear plan and knowing where you will be staying each night, booking hostels as you go may not align with your travel style. It can introduce an element of uncertainty and unpredictability, which may not be suitable for everyone.

These potential disadvantages highlight the importance of carefully considering your travel preferences and circumstances before deciding whether to book hostels as you go. While it can be an exciting and flexible approach, it may not be suitable for everyone’s travel style.


Tips for Booking Hostels As You Go

If you’ve decided that booking hostels as you go is the right approach for your backpacking adventure, here are some tips to make the process smoother and more successful:

  1. Stay Flexible: Embrace the spontaneity of your journey and be open to adjusting your plans as you go. This flexibility will allow you to take advantage of last-minute opportunities and make the most of your trip.
  2. Research in Advance: While you may not be booking hostels in advance, it’s still important to do some preliminary research. Familiarize yourself with the hostels available in each destination, read reviews, and gather information about their location, facilities, and overall vibe.
  3. Arrive Early: If you arrive in a destination earlier in the day, you’ll have a better chance of securing a bed or room in the hostel of your choice. Popular hostels can fill up quickly, so arriving early gives you an advantage.
  4. Be Strategic with Timing: Consider timing your arrival on weekdays rather than weekends or during the off-peak season when there’s likely to be more availability and potentially lower prices.
  5. Use Reliable Booking Platforms: There are numerous online booking platforms specifically designed for hostels, such as Hostelworld, Booking.com, and Hostelbookers. These platforms provide user reviews, ratings, and descriptions to help you make informed decisions.
  6. Keep an Eye on Last-Minute Deals: Check for last-minute deals and promotions on booking platforms or directly on the websites of hostels you’re interested in. They may offer discounted rates for beds or rooms that haven’t been booked.
  7. Consider Hostel Chains: Some hostel chains have multiple locations in different cities or countries. If you have a positive experience with a particular chain, consider staying at their hostels in other destinations as well.
  8. Be Prepared with Alternatives: Have a backup plan or a list of alternative hostels in case your first choice is fully booked. This will save you time and help you avoid getting stuck without accommodation.
  9. Take Advantage of Local Knowledge: Once you arrive at a destination, don’t hesitate to ask locals or fellow travelers for recommendations on hostels or any insider tips they may have.
  10. Stay Organized: Keep track of your bookings, confirmations, and contact details for each hostel. This will help you stay organized and easily manage your accommodation during your backpacking journey.

By following these tips, you can navigate the process of booking hostels as you go with ease and maximize your chances of finding suitable accommodations throughout your backpacking adventure.


Final Thoughts

Booking hostels as you go can be a thrilling and liberating way to experience backpacking. It allows for flexibility, the opportunity to meet fellow travelers, and the chance to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. However, there are also potential downsides to consider, such as limited availability and added stress.


Ultimately, the decision of whether to book hostels as you go or in advance depends on your travel style, preferences, and circumstances. Some backpackers thrive on the spontaneity and freedom that comes with booking on the go, while others prefer the security of having their accommodations planned in advance.


Regardless of your choice, it’s important to remember that flexibility, preparedness, and adaptability are key. By doing some research, staying organized, and being open to alternatives, you can navigate the process of booking hostels as you go more efficiently and with less stress.


Whichever approach you choose, don’t forget to prioritize safety, especially when booking in unfamiliar destinations. Read reviews, check security measures, and trust your instincts when selecting a hostel.


Ultimately, the most important aspect of your backpacking adventure is the memories you create and the experiences you have along the way. Whether you’re booking hostels as you go or planning in advance, embrace the spirit of adventure and make the most out of every moment.


So, pack your backpack, put on your wanderlust hat, and get ready for an unforgettable journey. Happy backpacking!