Hostel Life > Hotels, Airbnb, Couchsurfing

Dawson Turner
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Get out of that comfort zone, discover a new one

I’m gonna keep it simple and lay out every reason why I personally prefer the hostel life when traveling when possible. Sure, I’m biased here, but earnest.

The pictures I’m attaching here are mine, and don’t necessarily have anything to do with what’s described. Just good vibes 🙂 Which is all I could hope to convey

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Weekly hostel rooftop BBQ vibezzz with Chloe, Ike, and Nikole


Hostels are filled with people more often than not just like you, solo travelers from far away carrying very little. Hostels are run by people just like you. There’s a collective sense of understanding, a body of people of common ground and desire to explore. This is all coming from my personal experience, additionally informed by those I have met along the way. Let’s break it down.

  1. 24/7 Staff Presence: Hostels typically have staff available around the clock. They can provide assistance, answer questions, and address any concerns that guests may have. Their presence ensures that someone is always available to maintain security and handle any emergencies.
  2. Controlled Access: Most hostels have secure access systems, such as key cards or codes, to enter the premises *and* individual rooms. This helps to prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the hostel, ensuring a higher level of security for guests and volunteers
  3. Lockers and Storage: Hostels provide lockers or secure storage options for guests to store their valuable shit. This allows travelers to keep their belongings safe while they explore the area without worrying about their security.
  4. Social Sphere: Hostels are bound by their communal areas, where guests can socialize and interact with fellow travelers. All have lounges, some have bars, communal halls, etc. This social atmosphere often leads to a sense of camaraderie and increased safety as guests look out for each other as they share travel tips and experiences.
  5. Reviews and Recommendations: Before booking a hostel, travelers have access to online reviews and recommendations from previous guests. These reviews provide insights into the hostel’s safety standards, cleanliness, and overall experience, allowing travelers to make actual informed decisions.


Definitely cheaper than an Airbnb, hotel, or whatever. As opposed to paying upwards of $100 for a hotel in the city, of course depending on where you are but that’s already generous, you can get a hostel bed for usually $35-50 depending on the season and availability. Not only is the nightly cost cheaper, but being present in a larger body of people opens you up to sharing tips and resources.

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Nikole atop rooftop


Hostels are more often than not in a central area or at least in close proximity to public transport as travelers from abroad will desire to be closest to where life is happening, respectfully. Location on the cheap, at that. Hostels make the most out of their space and thrive in business because of their proximity to the life of the party. No matter where you stay, there will be maps at the hostel to guide you every step of the way.


Meeting an often large body of people from unpredictable places from completely different backgrounds each with unique experiences. Myself, I was born and raised in Texas, and had never been exposed to several nationalities before traveling Europe a bit. Not to say I was prejudiced in any way before travel, but it cannot be understated how important it is to erase the preconceived notions you have about bodies of people before actually having a conversation.

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Free screening of “INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS” @ Alamo Square Park

Just, opening yourself up to others. Being open to a honest conversation with a stranger is an essential part of travel for me, and is what hostel life thrives on.

A HUGE part of community in hostels that can’t be sold short is events. A good number of hostels, especially any ITH hostel, hosts weekly events led by volunteers for guests. Hell, nightly. In the last week alone (@ Pacific Tradewinds hostel here in SF Chinatown) my team and I collectively held meditations, open mic nights, trips to the park, a Taco Tuesday, trip to the karaoke bar, + more.

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annnnnd back on the roof (me in the back)

Staff/house recommendations

Resource for unique, lived-in local tips and experience that a travel site could never provide. Staff recommendations and a general source for local knowledge. The establishment has probably been in the city for awhile, and to say the least has seen a thing or two. And yes, knows a thing or two.

Genuine, blissful unpredictability

Always the most rewarding part of hostel surfing to me. The most sublime days can happen on a dime by simply chatting somebody up the night before, at breakfast. Maybe they tell you their plan for the day, maybe you share a similar one, and maybe you join for the ride. Everyone in the hostel in there for a reason, to explore.

Last week I joined guests for breakfast around 8am and talked up a few of them. We sat at a table and shared tea, and ask each other about ourselves. In the process we talked about our plans, and a friend in this circle was slated to visit Muir Woods in the afternoon. As it just so happened, I had been dying to go since I arrived in town. So we went! Just like that.

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Paulo’s 35th bday!

Let me tell you one thing, I do not see that happening in an Airbnb. Lol. I can’t speak to Couchsurfing really but I do imagine it really depends on your host and their experience. I’m just speaking from mine!

Writing this section alone, I was brought by surprise to a coastside coffee shop not a football field from the beach. On my way down the stairs on my way to a local cafe up Columbus to get some writing done, I ran into my coworker Nikole who was on her way all the way across town to beautiful mission beach to do the same. So by chance I tagged along, and here I am in a place I had no inclination of visiting today. And today is a blue skies sunny 63 degrees Fahrenheit kind of day. Bliss.

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Open mic night hosted by yours truly and Nikole

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