The majority of the time backpackers will be trying to keep costs at a minimum so that they can then use their money on either traveling to more destinations and/or sightseeing tours or even just for nights out. Therefore backpackers tend to go for the hostel option.
Hostels are basically just dorms which can vary in the number of people staying in a dorm. The more people in the dorm the more the hostel can reduce the rate and this is why hostels are a much cheaper option when compared with a hotel.
Typically you will have to choose between 4, 6 or 10 people dorms and as I mentioned above this will fluctuate the cost of the room. While 10 people in one room is a lot, if you’re trying to save costs then this is a way to do it.
I myself stayed in one dorm of 10 people in Amsterdam and to be honest I didn’t think it was for me, too many people for my liking. I personally preferred the 4 people dorms but again it comes down to the individual.
Hostels are actually a really great way of meeting people, most of them have a bar and since all the guest are like-minded travelers, you will have a lot in common. This works especially well if you’re a solo traveler because it is very easy to make friends/acquaintances along the way.
In my own experience, I even made friends with some Spanish, Hungarian and even Australian friends who lived in London at the time. The benefit here was that later on, I got to visit them all in their home countries and had personal tour guides. As for the Aussies, I met, living in London, I got to couch surf with them until I found a place.
I know there are people out there who can’t share a room with strangers so again it does come down to how you feel about it and what you’re comfortable with. There is also always a concern about safety and theft of your goods but if you go to a reputable hostel they will have lockers and alternatively, you could attach a lock to your bag as well. It is unfortunate that this can happen but in my experience, I had no troubles at all.
When booking a hostel please be sure to use a reputable website like Hostelworld.com. The reason I bring this up is that I used Hostel World for most of my trip until I got to London then I used one of the sites that came up under Google search’s home page and within 24 hours had fraudulent transaction coming out of my credit card.
You don’t necessarily have to use Hostel World but make sure that you do some research to ensure they are reputable and ensure that they have security icons on their web page and payment sections.