I love traveling, but traveling can be expensive. Or does it? Normally I save money by shopping airline or cruiseline deals, traveling in the ‘shoulder’ season, or by cutting back on my food or shopping allowances when on my trip. In addition, I normally stay at 2 0r 3 star hotels unless I get an amazing deal on something better (like the 5 star hotel I stayed at during my trip to Cancun in 2006). To save money on my most recent trip to New Zealand, I opted to try out the hostel scene.
The rumor on the block is that NZ has amazing hostels… nothing like the scary one depicted in the film ‘Hostel.’ However, I checked reviews on Tripadvisor.com just in case and of course, there were some hostels that I would NEVER recommend to my enemy. But for the most part, the hostels were more than fine. We had our own room and our own bathroom. The rooms were clean. And safe. And EXTREMELY affordable. Seven nights of accommodation in New Zealand cost me $167.79 US (tax included). Or approximately $23.97 per night. Incredible!
Overall the hostel experience was positive. The people I met and saw in the hostels were mostly in their 20s. Though I did see some older people as well. Everyone was very friendly, especially at the hostel in Rotorua. Some people traveled together but it did seem that there were many people traveling solo (and thus were willing to strike up a conversation and share traveling experiences). Most of the people I met were either studying abroad, traveling around the world or traveling during a break from their work visa. I wish I had done one of those things in my 20s. Unfortunately, it isn’t an American thing to do. The pressure to graduate college fast and to get a job and start working is the norm. Taking a year off to travel or to work abroad in the hospitality industry is considered almost-irresponsible to some people. I disagree and wish I had taken advantage of the hostel scene in my younger years. The only complaint I have about my time in the hostel was the heat in Auckland (no AC meant 70 degree temps in the room at night) and the noise on a couple of occasions (thank goodness for my iPod) which made sleeping difficult. I was slightly sleep deprived on this trip.
I’ve written TripAdvisor.com reviews for the 2 hostels in New Zealand where I stayed. The first place I stayed, YHA Treks Backpackers in Rotorua (read my review), deserves 5 stars in my opinion. The second place, City Lodge in Auckland, wasn’t as comfortable or nice (Read my review). I would definitely stay in a hostel again, especially if my purpose of the trip to to sightsee and experience the city and NOT to lounge in bed all day.