Why I (shhhh) sometimes stay in hotels

I’m a budget traveller.  It’s pretty much a lifestyle choice these days – I’ve been a backpacker for close to 15 years now.

With this designation comes a number of stereotypes that I apparently need to live by.

  • I must smell bad at all times
  • I must carry everything I own on my back
  • I must drink excessively at every opportunity, and
  • I must, must stay in the cheapest accommodation I can possibly find

The last of those is, according to popular wisdom, the most important.  I am not allowed to stay in the $100/night place if there is somewhere for $50.  I can’t stay in a private room in a hostel if there is a dorm available.  I apparently can’t even opt for the six person dorm if the 20 person option is a couple of bucks cheaper.

Well, unfortunately, I don’t believe a word of it.  Even at the risk of being judged by the group of hippies in the hostel common room and forced to hand back my backpacker card, there are times when I will happily pay the extra money to stay in a hotel.  And you know what?  I couldn’t care less.

Much and all as I enjoy the company of others when I travel, after several weeks on the road I get sick of dealing with people.  I don’t want to trip over somebody’s bag every time I go to the bathroom.  I don’t want to smell their unwashed socks and bodily odours all day.  I would really like to get more than four hours of sleep per night, not woken up every hour by high volume snoring or higher volume ‘liaisons’.

When that happens, I stop worrying quite so much about every last penny and start scouring the discount sites to find a hotel for a few days.   I take the time to appreciate small luxuries like having a bathroom to myself, or using a towel that hasn’t been sitting damply in my pack for a week.  Little packets of shower soap have never looked so good.

Unpacking my bags and having a bit of privacy, even if just for a couple of nights, refreshes my jaded traveller’s soul.  Travel burnout has been a real issue for me over the years, but at least now I realise when it is happening and do something about it. When my weariness has passed and I’m feeling totally refreshed again, I’ll stuff everything back in my bag and head towards the nearest hostel – but not a moment before.

Backpacker cred be damned.

[Image via Z_dead]


20 Responses to “Why I (shhhh) sometimes stay in hotels

  • Hey, no need to justify your choice, I completely agree! I always say, we work so dang hard to make money to travel, why struggle the whole time, on purpose? To your post I say, hear hear!

    • Thanks! Time and a place for everything, right? Most of the time hostels are fine, but some days … not so much.

  • We will not stay in $100 a night rooms unless we are on our honeymoon.

  • Amen!

    I don’t keep it secret that I really don’t like staying in hostels at all. I have and I will (I will a lot this summer, actually), but I really don’t like to at all. I like having my own space. I like a quiet room to sleep in. Sometimes, I just like being alone! And if that makes me a “bad” budget traveler… well, I don’t really care.

  • Couldn’t agree more. I always go at the cheaper end of the scale, but why slum it if for a few bucks more I can have privacy or room to stretch out or heaven forbid, air conditioning rather than a fan?

    I’m happy to say I don’t live by any backpacker rules – I don’t drink, I don’t stay in the cheapest place possible and I like to have a shave every now and again. If that makes me a sell out, so be it. While they are sticking to what the Lonely Planet tells them to do, I’ll be doing my own thing, thanks.

    Great article Dave!

  • I’m in a €105/night room, and I endorse this message. After ~7 years of homelessness, it’s nice to have a few days of luxury sometimes.

  • Hurrah! I totally agree. I will, and have, stayed in dorms occassionally, but I HATE them. A private room is better if you are two people to split the cost so I’m pleased that I generally travel with my boyfriend, or good friends.

    I don’t really drink either (Shock! Horror!) as I don’t like the taste of alcohol and I hate being drunk, believe me I am much more fun sober 🙂

    I’ll hand in my backpacker card right away…

  • I tend to do either cheap – or expensive. If you are going pay for hotel pay for a bloody good one – 5 star is way more fun than 3 star – and you can get some good deals if you use the right sites

  • Hurrah, I totally agree!!! We’ve only stayed in a dorm room once and it was horrendous – really don’t mind paying extra and getting a private room, especially as we’re travelling as a couple too.

    I hate it when I tell friends or other people who are travelling about how much something was and then have to justify the fact that, for example, we went out and spent 15AUD each on something to eat when we could’ve just had the $1 meal at the hostel.

  • LOL! I’m in the middle of doing a post about staying in hostels vs hotels, since I came to hostels late in life. I was, however, wondering if my preference for hotels (confirmed by a recent stay in an upmarket London hotel!) was down to my age or not. I hate to give in to my age, so I am delighted to read your post, and even more to read the comments!

    I think any form of travel is valid, moreover – provided that you are taking in where you are, the customs, sights/sites, foods, differences, which make up travel. People joke about others who like to travel in comfort, and criticize them as not getting involved in the local experience, but there are thousands of backpackers (& I’ve known some) who do the same.

    I’m hoping to visit a certain African country before very long. I have friends here who come from there, and so a complete network of folk available to me, but it occurs to me that I would be contributing more to the local economy by staying in a hotel rather than bumming off those folk. If you can’t afford it that’s one thing, but doing it purely on principle is another!

  • Rules were made to be broken!

  • A Montrealer Abroad
    6 years ago

    I don’t really like hostels all that much – I prefer to opt for a private room, or a hotel room. I understand that for some people accommodation really isn’t a big priority, but I like my comfort and amenities. So getting a great room for the night is really important for the quality of my trip!

  • When we were travelling in California, motels were so cheap, $30 in Morro Bay. Cheaper than double ensuites in hostels. We were travelling as a couple and are 50 something’s, so preferred this, but then stayed in hostels in Oz and had mixed experiences in dorms and ensuite. Even chose a camp bed on a porch in WA over a dorm. Stayed in one dreadful hostel in the Grampians, when travelling to Adelaide, bed bug hell and owner having an orgy in the tub! That night I wanted a hotel room! A lot. Then the dorm on Kangeroo island was so good, if only all matched those standards I wouldn’t need an hotel..

  • I can totally understand where you are coming from… Especially travelling as a couple… it’s nice to have some privacy every so often!

  • As I write this I’m in a dorm in Maui and I think I’m over hostels for a while. I like hotels and I don’t care if people think less of me for it – I miss nice linens!

  • If I followed rules I wouldn’t have tossed in my job so many times to backpack would I? Travelling as couple in Europe a few years ago I expected to end up in hostel private rooms (my partner won’t do dorms but we don’t care if there is a WC down the corridor) – but booking online the day before the hotels were cheaper, by a lot!

    As I don’t go to Europe to cook – we stayed in some great places for cheap prices – e.g. E40/double 5 mins walk from the Gare du Nord in Paris!

  • In Adelaide we got a luxury hotel room with breakfast cheaper than a private room in the YHA. And this hotel had a communal kitchen so we could self cater there too, which given the food available in the market in Adelaide, was a bonus. In Sydney we loved the Rocks YHA which is not cheap for a hostel but the location and the quality is worth it. Getting Bed Bugs in Neds Beds, the pits! never again!

  • Rules Schmules. And sometimes I eat expensive food! OMG! Life is short. I hope the day my backpack goes belly up I am not in some $5 shithole smiling into rigor mortis because I saved a few dollars while the other 19 bed mates stare on in horror.

    • This comment made me actually laugh out loud. Just thought you’d like to know.

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