Written by Michael

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Europe is great for backpackers; unrestricted travel, great transport links, universal currency (apart from us Brits, we like the queen on our money), the best hostels and a diverse mix of great countries. Here are my top 10 European cities for backpackers and my favourite hostel in each destination.
Continue reading “The Top 10 European Destinations for Backpackers.”

Written by Michael

4min read

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So you want to travel the world but you’re still not quite convinced by this hostel malarki?

Well, here are a few reasons to try hostels out and then fall in love with the world of hostelling…


They’re Social Melting Pots.

Unlike hotels where you’re pretty much on your own, hostels are a thriving mass of social opportunity.

You are surrounded by a limitless supply of potential new mates who all want to have a good time and meet new people.

As soon as you’ve chucked your luggage in your room, you and your room mates are chatting.

There is the standard “Hi, I’m Michael, where are you from?” and from then on you’re basically best buds for your time in the hostel.


The Staff.

I’m not sure what the receptionist in a hotel would say if you challenged them to a game of beer pong, hostel staff on the other hand will take you right up on that offer – and probably wipe the floor with you in the process.

Hostels are often staffed by students or young people who want to have a good time just as much as you do.

They will also have great local knowledge and give you advice on, oh i don’t know – how to bribe the po po when you’re illegally riding motorcycles in Vietnam….possibly.


Central location.

Usually hostels are in a pretty good location next to transport links or within walking distance of important sites.

I can’t think of any hostels I’ve stayed in that are too far away from the main sites of interest or not next to a train station.


Cheap.

Hostels are cheap as chips to stay in and usually have pretty cheap food and drink to go with them!

In cities like Paris you can expect to pay around £15 a night – much cheaper than a hotel.

However, in Eastern Europe and Asia I’ve paid as little as £4 a night for some pretty decent hostels.

I’ve also been informed by travel buddies that bargains can be found in places such as South America, Australia and most of Asia – Basically the whole world – Apart from the Arctic, i don’t know if they have hostels there :/


Like minded people.

People who love to travel just click. Hostels are full of these people.

You can talk for hours about your adventures and share your travel tips with each other.

Travelers love it even more when they find out its your first time travelling – because we’re going to dump all our advice on you 🙂


They’re not dirty! (most of them)

I get it – you’re worried about suspect stains on sheets and bed bugs. Some hostels of old were pretty rank to be fair, and of course there’s a few around the world now that leave much to the imagination.

However, nowadays, with reviews on hostel websites and TripAdvisor – THEY HAVE TO BE CLEAN – otherwise people just wont book a bed there.

The majority of people today book hostels on-line or through apps. On these sites people can see these reviews and cleanliness has its own category!

Seriously, hostels nowadays can sometimes be comfier and cleaner than a lot of hotels.


Tech friendly and modern.

Don’t worry – you’ll be able to add a picture of you and your best mate Bruce to your Snapchat story.

I’m pretty sure every hostel I’ve ever stayed in has had WiFi and plug sockets – It’s pretty much expected in today’s world.


You’re going to have a romance or two.

If you want to that is. Everyone comes back from travelling with one or two romance stories to tell.

A lot of people who travel are single and while on the road people just hook up all over the place.

A reputable scientist told me it’s got something to do with being away from home and the time difference affecting the hormones…..

Written by Michael

3min read

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So you’re travelling around the world and you’ve stumbled across a willing mate, congrats!

But can you have sex in a hostel? – and how the hell do you express your hormonal instincts whilst staying in a room with 10 other people?

Whether you’ve met them during the day when sober, or on a night out whilst drunk, it all comes down to logistics.

Here are some options for you to consider…..


Shower Time.

The shower area is a very good option!

Even though it’ll be pretty confined you’ll have that all important privacy.

The sound of the shower will mask most noises that come from you or your partner and you’ll come out feeling squeaky clean and refreshed 😉


Outdoor hostel sex.

Risky but worth it.

Some hostels have outdoor areas such as roof terraces with sofas, choose a good time (when everyone’s gone to bed) and you’ll have the comfort of the cushions and the romantic backdrop of the stars.

It’s down to mother nature whether you get rained on, but don’t let that stop you…


Wait until your dorm is empty.

By far the riskiest option on this list. Someone could walk in at any moment!

can you have sex in a hostel?
No sex going on here guys, we swear.

If you know your room-mates well you could ask them to give you some time but its unlikely you’ll be able to ask everyone in your room.

If someone does walk in its going to be mighty awkward for the remainder of your stay 😉


Book a private room.

The safest option on the list, but the one that costs you some dollar.

The hostel may have some private rooms that are going to be pretty cheap compared to hotels.

If they don’t you could fork out some extra buck for a hotel and experience that o so important comfort, privacy and most importantly – a double bed!


The Towel wall.

This neat little trick is your last resort if you have no other option but your dorm.

This only works on the lower bunk so if you’re on a top bunk your destined to have no hostel sex.

You can hang a towel from the upper bunk as a kind of curtain to give at least some privacy!

Make sure its secured well, otherwise you’ll be exposed mid flow!  It’s unlikely you’ll win any awards for best room mate, but hey, you had hostel sex!


I hope this has answered the nagging question of can you have sex in a hostel? The answer is yes! There are many ways, each have a slight element of risk, but hey you’re traveling 😉

Written by Michael

3min read

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These websites will open up travelling opportunities that you never thought possible! They are and essential weapon in a travellers arsenal for finding great deals and satisfying that ever-present wanderlust.
Kayak ExplorekayakNot too bothered where you go and just want to get away? Simply tap in the dates you want to travel and Kayak Explore will display a world map with little boxes telling you the cheapest flights to every destination on your selected dates. Have a scroll around and you will find some ridiculously cheap flights to places you hadn’t thought to travel to before now! Some gems I found were; London – Oslo £20 return and London- Rome £35 return. You cant go wrong.
 
BlaBlaCarcarGetting from one place to another while travelling can often be a drain on your funds. BlaBlaCar can help! If someone is driving to where you want to go you can purchase a seat in their car along with other travellers. This is great in two respects; one it can be dirt cheap, and two, the people who you share your car with can come from all walks of life and you can meet some great characters.
 
HostelworldhoselworldThis is my go to site for accommodation when I’m travelling. Hostels are by far the cheapest accommodation around the world as well as the best for travellers. Hostelworld has the best hostels listed in every part of the world you can think of. Booking through these guys means you save a lot of money, meaning you can travel for longer!
 
Holiday PiratespirsateMy first reaction when my friend showed me this website was; “Is this legal?!!” What Holiday Pirates does is search out error fairs. This means that when airlines accidentally put flights on-line for cheaper than they should be (sometimes 10% of the price) holiday pirates picks this up and lets you know! London to Cancun for £200 return? Take my money.
 
Air BnbairbnbOn this site people open up their homes to guests and allow them to stay for a small fee. It’s a completely different way of doing things as you’ll be staying with locals in their own houses. These are often a lot cheaper than hotels and even sometimes hostels. Sure you don’t get the sociable side of hostels but you can have great time with your hosts who will know all the best local spots to go to. The review system also means you wont be getting a crazy cat lady as your host.
 
 
 
 

Written by Michael

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It’s the part they don’t tell you about…

We’ve all been there. I’ve been there countless times.

There you are having the best time with your new found friends in a foreign land. 

You’ve met them over a pint of beer, on a walking tour, or in the hostel lobby.

If you met these people back home they would probably become some of your closest friends.

You’ve known them for a few days, a few hours, or even a few minutes, but you’re exploring cites together, getting drunk together, and creating memories that you wont forget in a jiffy.

You’re experiencing the best aspect of travelling; being completely free and sharing it with the coolest people you could wish for.

Chilling with friends made at a festival in Helsinki

Then its over.

Just like that.

You’re travelling onto Budapest and they’re going to Berlin.

You exchange numbers and add them of Facebook. However, deep down you know that unfortunately you’re probably never going to see them again. Your paths may cross in future. But for now, its goodbye

You feel empty.

No matter how much you have traveled, It’s the one part of it all that you cant quite get used to – and i don’t think you ever can.

It’s especially hard to say goodbye to travel friends because you’ve met in a moment where your completely free, exploring the world. You become fiends with them through a shared interest; travelling! You’re like minded people who identify with each other and its rare to find people with such similar interests but when you go travelling, pretty much everyone you meet shares these interests with you!

When travelling you throw caution to the wind and trust people straight away only knowing their name and what country they’re from – it’s a bit crazy.

Parisian friends

Even though you don’t get used to these goodbyes, you come to terms with it and realize it’s part of travelling.

Travelling, and hostels especially, are like one big revolving door; when one awesome set of mates leave, another bunch will pop out of no where for you to have an awesome time with.

Its bitter sweet, but its the way it has to be, it’s also the best way for it to be. You’ve met these people, you’ve had the best of times together and you’ve said goodbye as the best of friends. Memories have been made that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

You’ve said  your goodbyes for now.

However, you know that if you were to ever meet again…it would be like you saw each other yesterday.

Written by Michael

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So it turns out Vienna is famous for museums, churches and the opera – who knew! I certainly didn’t when I booked a 3 night vacation to the city. These 3 attractions are great and attract millions, but not really my thing you see. So I was a little apprehensive if I’d have anything to do! However, I can safely say that there is so much more to Vienna! I actually had a blast and Vienna has entered as one of my favourite European cities…and all without visiting one museum or the opera.

Here are some reasons, other than its most famous attractions, to visit Vienna.

Explorers Gem

Wander a few minutes from the touristy parts and you come across streets with grand doors that are propped open just enough for you to sneak in. These doors lead to courtyards which are surrounded by the cities apartments. Each one is slightly different. Some contain lots of plants, some contain crazy old ladies,  and others – tiny little doors.

Markets

There are many markets in Vienna and Nashmarkt is the main one of these. It’s a stones throw away from the hostel I was in so was frequented regularly! Its over 1.5km long and contains mainly food stools, bars and restaurants. Great for shopping in the day, this place is also buzzing during most evenings and has a great atmosphere. Its relatively cheap as well and great for evening meals and drinks.

Great Hostels

I stayed in the Wombats Hostel – Naschmarkt, and thought it was great. Its a very large hostel but still has a cosy feel as there’s so many places to lie down on cushions in the foyer – great if hungover or just chilling!  It’s also a great place to meet people and make some great friends! Oh, and its £12 a night – bargain bucket.

Parks

Vienna has no shortage of green open spaces. Whether its the gardens of Schonbrunn palace or a regular city park, there is always somewhere to relax and chill for  few hours. The gardens of Schonbrunn are majestic – just don’t lay down in the sun for 3 hours and get burnt like I did. A great city park is Stadpark – it has people singing, fountains, food, music, great buildings – you name it.

City feel, but just the right size.

Its the capital of Austria – it has skyscrapers, shopping malls and huge parks. Yet everything seems so easy to get to. Literally everything in the city is within walking distance from the metro – which Is fast, reliable and cheap (By cheap I mean free, I don’t think anyone pays as there are no barriers!). Its so simple to use and even during rush hour its not too packed. This is such a bonus for travellers and enables you to see everything you want so easily!

These are just some reasons why Vienna has impressed me so much. If your not into museums or opera don’t be put off by thinking that they’re all the city has to offer.

It has so much more and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Written by Michael

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1)Say hi to everyone. Literally everyone one you cross paths with. Hostels are a melting pot of personalities and you can make some great friends. The people that you chat to will probably end up being the people you explore your destination with and get drunk with on nights out. You might even travel to other destinations with them and become lifelong friends…… who knows! If you’re travelling on your own this is a pretty essential skill to have if you want to have a fun time!
2)Invite everyone out. So it’s likely you’re hostel is going to have organised nights out which everyone is invited to, these are great! However if you’re going on a night or day out with a few people, invite others out from your hostel, you never know what great personalities you’ll meet that just need to be nudged out of their shell.
3)Buy a Padlock. Buy one and keep it with ya. Most hostels have lockers or cabinets in your rooms to store stuff in but they’ll charge you for a padlock. Get your own and you have peace of mind J
4)Get to know the staff. Some hostels you visit are made great by the staff that work there! If you get to know them they’ll help you get the most out of the city and are a great laugh on nights out! Plus, you might get free drinks from the hostel bar 😉
5)Double check if there’s a curfew. On a night out make sure you don’t get locked out! I did this once in Laos and had to scale a fence with some friends which we broke by accident. Safe to say the hostel owner wasn’t a happy chap!
6)Go on hostel nights out! Quite often these include a lot of free drink and entry into clubs. They’ll take you to places that you wouldn’t have found on your own and are a great opportunity to chat to anyone you haven’t yet had the chance to!
7)Cook your own food! Fair enough, in some countries like Thailand and Laos it’s so cheap to eat out that it’s probably not worth your time preparing your own food. However, in more expensive European cities it’s definitely worth your time and will save you money. Go to a local shop and buy anything. Most hostels have a decent kitchen and you’ll be amazed at what recipes you can come up with!
8)Sister hostels. Arrive at a hostel and there’s no space? Often one hostel is linked to many other ones that might have space! It’s usually the case that they’re just around the corner and some of these connected hostels will come together on nights out to double up on the fun!

Written by Michael

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5. Apple Hostel – Philadelphia, USA. 
This is the only hostel from the USA to make it into my top 5! Its a lovely little hostel in the centre of Philadelphia and within walking distance of everything you could want to see. The hostel has great little free socials every night such as wine and cheese night or movie night which gets everyone together before hitting the many bars that are literally around the corner as the hostel is just off the main strip.
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4. Mojzo Inn – Nha Trang, Vietnam.
Nha Trang wasn’t my favourite place in Vietnam but damn this hostel was near the top of my list. The staff, which includes two twin sisters, are amazing! They go above and beyond and remember everyone’s names and will always use it when talking to you. The hostel itself is quirky as it is really thin but tall and has a lovely little cafe’ on the top!
3. Vietnam Backpacker Hostels, Downtown – Hanoi, Vietnam.
If you go to this hostel I give you two pieces of advice to take with you. 1, prepare to get absolutely no sleep, and 2, take some paracetamol. This hostel knows how to party and is the king of great nights. Be sure to book on the castaway tour to Ha Long bay that the hostel organizes, two nights you will never forget; one a boat and one on a private island.
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2. Mui Ne Backpacker Villlage – Mui Ne, Vietnam.
Mui Ne is a town that’s gaining popularity in the Vietnam traveler scene. It’s endless beaches and nearby sand dunes make it a good place to stay for a couple of nights. However, if you stay at the Mui Ne Backpacker village you will never want to leave. The rooms are basic but pretty cheap and the staff are very helpful. The main thing however that you will love is the pool! It’s the centre of the hostel and is where you will find everyone. You can spend all day there soaking up the rays, chatting and playing games. Nirvana.
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1. Greg & Tom Beer House Hostel – Krakow, Poland. (Cover Picture)
This is simply the best hostel I’ve stayed in so far.  From the moment you enter the place you know the hostel staff (who are hot hot hot!) want you to have the best time possible. The decor of the place is so lush, and the rooms are spacious and comfy. Value for money is excellent; the rooms are cheap, you get a free dinner every night which you would expect to find in a decent restaurant and you get free drinks before the hostel goes on a wild night out in Krakow. Cant speak highly enough of the place. Deffo going back.

Written by Michael

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It was 5.45am and I was being woken up by my iPhone alarm.
I had set the alarm the previous night with all the intention in the world of waking up and joining my roommate Kieran on his 2.5 mile run to the Rocky steps. However, it appeared that drunk Michael had been slightly too optimistic about how he would feel in the morning. It turned out I felt like crap. The $1.50 beers and 4 hours sleep had taken its toll on my body and all I wanted to do was curl up in my bed and stay there for the foreseeable future. However, Kieran didn’t have an alarm and I knew how much this run meant to him, so I woke him up to get ready and informed him that I was in no fit state to join him. He said it was fine, got dressed and left the hostel for his run. He was a man possessed. I gulped down a pint of water then fell back to sleep…..this time with no alarm set.

The Famous Steps.
The Famous Steps.

I re-awoke at about 9am to find Kieran waking up on the other side of the room, he had obviously gone back to sleep after his Rocky Run.
“How’d it go mate?” I asked
“Ermm, well I got within 600m of the steps, they were still setting down the stage and stopped me going up them!….I’m pretty devastated if i’m being honest….”
Other than feeling even better about my decision not to join him, I felt so sorry for the guy. He had drunk a fair bit the night before and probably didn’t feel great on the run. Also one of the main reasons he came to Philadelphia was to run up the Rocky steps and catch the sunrise but now he couldn’t; he was leaving at 3am the next morning on a bus to Washington DC so this morning was his last chance. This was going to play on his mind for a while.
That day was a pretty chilled one as I had done all the touristy stuff I wanted to do the day before. The hostel we were in has loads of things to keep you entertained so I played a few game of FIFA with Kieran on their Xbox and got some food from the trusted 7.11 down the road. I came across a bunch of 7.11’s in SE Asia and they always had what you needed from mosquito repellent to cheap food. The ones in America were also good with cheap food that kept you going throughout the day without breaking the bank! Kieran went out for some more sightseeing and I met him and Dan later that night in a pub on South Street.
South Street was recommended to us by the hostel staff as the other go to place other than Market Street. It was about 9pm and I was walking there on my own from the hostel. Arriving on South Street you can definitely say it has a different vibe to Market Street; let’s just say you didn’t walk around with your phone on display. I met up with Dan and Kieran in this little pub where we had a couple of pints and got talking to a middle aged guy about the differences between England and America, namely our lack of guns. He eventually left us to go home, smoke some weed and ‘get some’ from his wife…fair play.
We decided South Street wasn’t really our scene so we popped back up to our trusted market street. And went into a karaoke bar where we met Kyle, Marc, Raska and a friend from camp who was living in Philadelphia, Heather. We sung many karaoke songs between us. Then suddenly at about 1am Kieran said to us “I’m doing the rocky steps now!”
“Kieran, you have a coach to DC to catch in 2 hours!”
It didn’t matter what we said to him, he was going to do it.  After a weekend of not being able to do the one thing he came to Philadelphia for, he saw this as his last chance, 2 hours before he left the city. His plan was to go back to the hostel, pick up his backpack, run with his backpack to the Rocky steps and then run and meet his coach to DC. He said goodbye and we wished him well not knowing if he was going to make it to the steps or his coach for that matter as he had consumed a few beers! We stayed at the Karaoke bar for a while then headed back to the hostel. Dan and I had booked a coach for 10am the next day to take us to DC. There we would meet Kieran and we would find out if he finally managed to make his Rocky run.
rocky
Did he make it?