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If you’re about to embark on a backpacking trip, should you book your hostels in advance or book them on the road? The savvy backpacker uses a combination of the two.

Always book in advance for your first couple nights in a new city. When you arrive at a new destination you’ll want to have a home base to drop your bag before you head out and explore. Who wants to spend their first-day walking hostel door to hostel door asking if there is any space for you to stay.

Is It Better to Book Hostels in Advance or As You Go?
Photo by Kaique Rocha

If you’re headed to an entirely new and unfamiliar country, you’ll want to book at least a week’s worth of accommodation at your hostel of choice. Consider what physical state you’ll be in upon arrival – jet-lagged, fatigued, disoriented – and consider how overwhelmed and culture-shocked you might feel, and whether language barriers will be an issue.

Booking ahead will give you the peace of mind in starting your travels that you’ll have a bed ready and waiting for you once you arrive, and it will give you time to get your bearings.

You’ll also want to book in advance if you’ll be traveling in high season. Research your destination prior to going. Traveling to Western Europe, New Zealand or Australia in the summer calls for prior booking. You’ll probably even want to book the whole stay.

In cheaper areas of the world, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Central America, where hostels are abundant and backpacking is common, there’s just no need to book in advance.

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Is It Better to Book Hostels in Advance or As You Go?
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