When I traveled to Puerto Viejo I was able to knock something off of my green-traveling bucket list: staying in a hostel. This was my first opportunity to take advantage of staying in a hostel and I already cannot wait to do it again! From my experience, I believe there are many benefits, including environmental ones when choosing to stay in a hostel rather than a typical resort or hotel.
1. Access to local insights around where you are staying
Many of the people working in the hostels have been there for quite some time and are usually pretty experienced travelers themselves. They most likely know the do’s and don’ts of the city, cool joints, and the places where the locals love to go. For my case, they guided me in the right direction to see two amazing fire shoes in Puerto Viejo.
2. Supporting travelers and the local community
Hostels in Costa Rica (and possibly elsewhere, I am not 100% sure) have “volunteers” that are allowed to stay in the hostel for free if they volunteer time each week to work for the hostel. One of the volunteers in my hostel, Hostel Bikini, shared an amazing story of her artwork that inspires women to travel alone. By being a volunteer in the hostel and selling her local artwork to people who stay in the hostel and around Puerto Viejo she is able to support herself.
3. Benefitting the environment by choosing a more simplistic and minimalistic form of traveling
By supporting smaller and local hostels it can be more environmentally friendly than supporting huge hotel resorts. While hostels are not an official form of ecotourism I do believe they fit in to that sector. In the case with the hostel I stayed it, everything was very natural and simple. While they had shared dormitories they also have about a dozen tents and hammocks that were available to sleep in. They were very open and connected with nature. The set up was simple and minimalistic in which they truly gave off the vibe of having and using only what you absolutely need. Some of the environmental benefits can be using less electricity and water with sharing rooms and bathrooms.
4. Budget Friendly
I think this is a given. I was able to stay in one of the most beautiful Caribbean towns in Costa Rica for less than $40 for 4 days. I will definitely use this in defense when people ask, “how can you afford to travel so often?”. I also had access to a full kitchen that gave me access to cooking and saving my own meals- a much cheaper option than eating out for 3 meals a day. But, I am guilty of trying most of the food and not really using the kitchen a lot! While it was not glamorous I still was able to enjoy the essentials that most travelers need and prefer: a bed, shower, kitchen, wifi and a fan. Since I was able to save so much money by booking the hostel instead of a hotel room I was able to enjoy other activities like renting a bicycle to ride beaches like Punta Uva in the photo above!
5. Meeting people from around the world and creating connections.
By staying in a hostel you meet so many wonderful people with such inspiring stories. I heard countless stories. Between traveling solo as a women around Latin America to quitting their job as a pharmacist to move to Costa Rica to really enjoy life- they all spoke to my heart which I know I will hold dear for a long time. Who knows, you may meet your next travel partner or find a free place to crash when visiting their home town.
I hope this helps you if you are deciding whether to stay in a hostel or not. I already have one booked for next weekend!