Backpacker hostels for families? It might sound like a crazy idea to start with – especially if you stayed in a hostel as a youngster and remember days of sleeping in an overcrowded dorm and nights of partying, shots and drinking games (anyone else grateful that social media wasn’t a thing when we were young?!) but boy have things changed. The best backpacker hostels have moved with the times, and now offer some of the finest options of accommodation in loads of top Australian destinations. Here are 10 reasons why you should seriously consider going backpacking with the kids on your next Aussie break.
1. It’s cheap!
Travelling as a family is expensive – and who wants to spend loads of money on a hotel room that you’ll only use to sleep in? As long as it’s clean, comfortable and safe – which many backpacker hostels are, you’re winning! Who wants expensive room decor and a mini-bar that the kids can trash anyway?! Many backpacker hostels now even have family rooms set up, with TVs and private ensuite bathrooms, but don’t forget you can also privately book out a dorm room which could have 4, 6 or more beds inside to comfortably fit everyone which also works out cheaper than a hotel room.
2. Super Friendly
Have you ever checked in to a hotel and felt the burning judgement in the receptionist’s eyes as one of your kids repeatedly presses the bell on the counter, while the other is already using the welcome lounges in the lobby as trampolines and the baggage trolley as a racing car? Or is that just us? I can almost sense reception staff downgrading us as we fill in our registration forms, putting us in a room far away from all the business, couple and honeymoon guests, and not offering us any kind of breakfast or dinner options in case we accept and bring havoc to the ‘elegant and refined dining area’. Travelling with kids generally comes with noise, energy, more noise, a fair bit of bad behaviour and yelling (from both kids and grown ups) and while this isn’t normally accepted in a 4 star hotel, it’s almost expected when you stay in a hostel. The reception staff will more than likely come around to hi-five the kids, loud music will be playing in the lobby and someone will be wearing a silly hat.
3. Cheap Eats
Backpackers are generally skint, so the hostel will have either in house meal deals if there is a restaurant or pub on site, or they can send you straight to the best discount eateries in the area. Reception will get asked a hundred times a day where to get the cheapest eats, and quite often they’ll be a traveller themselves so will be able to give you the best insider local tips. Some hostels even have free pasta, rice, tea and coffee on offer, and in backpacker hostels there is always a free food area where guests leave all their surplus groceries when they leave – so if the kids need some tomato sauce on their cereal you don’t need to head out and buy a new bottle! Another great thing is that if you don’t want to eat out every day you can head to the supermarket and buy food to cook yourself – hostels always have great fully equipped communal kitchen and dining areas so you can save loads of money by self catering.
As well as great kitchens and dining areas, you’ll also find loads of other great facilities at backpacker hostels. Backpackers these days are a hard bunch to please, and it has become such a competitive market that you’ll find hostels with rooftop gardens, BBQ areas, swimming pools, spas, movie lounges, games rooms and much more. Every hostel we’ve stayed at has had pool tables, fusball or ping pong which has kept the kids entertained for hours – as well as games available to borrow from reception.
Hostels are designed to offer solo international travellers a safe place to stay and meet other travellers. There are normally lots of relaxed communal areas for people to hang out, as well as organised activities throughout the week. Every time we’ve stayed at a hostel we’ve had backpackers from all over the world come and chat to us, who have been genuinely interested to find out our story and to find out some local Aussie travel tips. It’s brilliant for the kids to meet people from other countries too.
6. Location Location Location!
Backpacker hostels are almost always located right in the heart of things. You can find a hostel in the middle of the tourist area of a city, and pay a fraction of the price than if you stayed at a hotel just up the street.
7. Discount Tours
Backpacker hostels nearly always have their own tour desks, with special discounts to offer exclusively to their guests. One of the ways that I made money on the road was to work in a backpackers hostel over Christmas and I saw first hand the great savings on offer. If you want to do any local trips or tours head down to reception and see what kind of deal they can get you – they will have massive discounts available to people staying in house.
8. Backpacker Benefits
Backpackers are a demanding bunch and will expect certain things from a hostel, such as free Wifi, free airport transfers or luggage storage – which you will also be able to take full advantage of. Make sure you read all the features on your welcome note or on the website before you arrive.
We once had the choice of staying in a family room at a hostel (with one king bed and 2 single beds) or a large private dorm room with bunk beds. We made the mistake of letting the kids choose and of course ended up bunking it like boy scouts – but it was so much fun! It was all such an adventure for the boys, the room was huge and had it’s own bathroom and fridge so we were all comfortable and the kids loved climbing up to the top bunk to sleep.
There’s definitely one stereotype about backpackers that might be true, and that’s a love for a cold beer or wine or two. But that’s the same for us parents too, right?! Most hostels either have a bar on site, or work with one close by, where you’ll get happy hour discounts or a welcome drink as a guest.
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that there are some great reasons to stay at a backpacker hostel with kids – to find the best family friendly hostels you can use the normal search engines like booking.com and Wotif.com and use the family friendly filter – also make sure you check the reviews and you’ll soon know if you’re heading to a party hostel or a family friendly backpacker hostel.
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