Solo traveling and staying in a hostel definitely seemed intimidating to me at first. I have found many students from the US are a little nervous to stay in hostels because honestly we don’t have anything like that in America and cheaper places to stay like motels generally have a bad rep. I did quite a bit of research into what staying in a hostel would look like and determined that maybe it wasn’t so scary after all. Hostels are amazing because they provide a cheap place to stay and are generally pretty nice. They also are great if you are traveling solo or in a smaller group where maybe the cost of an Airbnb or hotel is much more.
To find good hostels, I used Hostelworld. Hostelworld allows you to put in a destination and browse hostels in the area. It shows you reviews of each hostel, what amenities they offer, you can book through the site, and also view what other travelers are going that weekend. I also looked at TikTok to see what people were saying because generally there are many reviews and recommendations.
There were definitely some things I didn’t initially realize about hostels. One is that many hostels will offer private rooms that you can book similarly to a hotel room. This can be a great option if you are traveling in a group and want more privacy. Additionally, most hostels offer a mix of female only dorms and mixed-gender dorms. Sometimes you can even find female-only hostels. Another cool feature on Hostelworld is that there is an online group chat created for people at that hostel or in that area. This may sound a bit intimidating but basically it allows for people to group together to do activities or just meet new people. For example, many people in Venice were looking for other travelers to split a gondola ride with. I found another girl looking for someone to take pictures with around the city. There were also quite a few people looking to find people to get a drink or dinner with.
I stayed at Anda Venice Hostel in a 9 person all female room. I felt completely safe and had such a good time. I would like to point out that the majority of people staying in the hostels are under the age of 26 and are students or young professionals just looking to travel on a budget. I also would note that some hostels seem to have different vibes than others. I think if you are solo traveling and looking to meet people pick one with social activities and that is catered towards young people. Anda Venice has a bar on the ground floor and hosts social events like DJ nights which makes it a fun social environment.
I was able to meet many young travelers from around the world which was such a cool experience. I met this girl studying abroad in Berlin who was also solo traveling for the first time and we spent one day traveling around Venice together which was so fun! I met some Italian guys, a group of German girls, and some other Americans at the bar who we had a fun time hanging out with. There were two girls from Canada who just graduated high school traveling around Europe. Two women in their twenties that just quit their jobs to travel for three months. There were just so many cool people with so many different travel experiences and backgrounds.
The other common concern many peers have expressed about hostels is “what about my stuff getting stolen”? Many hostels offer lockers of some sort for you to store your stuff. You typically do need your own padlock, but they have places to store your valuables. I was able to put my whole travel backpack in a locker at Anda Venice and the hostel also offered luggage storage after check out which was amazing. Generally though I didn’t feel like anyone was going to steal my stuff. Someone left an iPad out my entire hostel stay and no one took it, although I would say it is probably safer to lock up valuables.
Solo traveling was also a bit scary at first. I know this is something many of my friends would not be comfortable with at all but for me it was a good little challenge. I am used to traveling on my own a bit because I fly back and forth between Boston and California for school. In some ways, I think that made solo traveling slightly less intimidating. My biggest concerns with traveling alone were feeling comfortable eating meals at restaurants by myself, having to deal with challenges that may arise when traveling by myself, and just ensuring I feel safe. To me, studying abroad is all about trying new things, challenging yourself, and getting a little bit out of your comfort zone.
Overall, I had such an amazing experience solo traveling and would definitely recommend it. Many people were surprised to hear I was comfortable traveling alone, but honestly it was such a cool experience and I didn’t feel unsafe at all. However, I would suggest researching the place you are hoping to travel to see how safe it is for solo travelers, especially if you are a woman. I seriously think solo travel is such a cool and unique traveling experience. You basically get to do everything completely on your own time and it’s nice to not have to coordinate with other people or make compromises with your itinerary. It also can allow you to meet new people and just get more comfortable being by yourself.
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Hi! I'm Paige Giordano. I am a junior marketing major at Santa Clara University. I am originally from the Boston area. I am studying abroad in Milan, Italy fall semester of 2023. In my free time, I enjoy working out, reading, cooking, and fashion.