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Travel Tips, Learning how to pick the right hostel/hotel for you in Central and South America

We seriously would not have been able to have the good memories that we have of our trip in Central and South America if not for finding some of the most memorable hostels, hotels or just a room for rent through the use of research. Some of you travelers may argue that the bulk of your time would be or was spent outdoors anyway so it doesn’t really matter where you stay. And with this i have to disagree. Most of my fondest and treasured memories was when we did stayed at a decent place.

What is a DECENT PLACE for me to stay at?

FIRST it should be clean!  – I have many levels of cleanliness;

super ultra cleanSuper Ultra Clean – You never see anything out of place and once you step out of your room someone tidies up after you and even fixes your beds, then these mysterious helpers magically disappears. You never see them. Creeepyyyy… but nice!
This service rarely happened.

cozy clean

Cozy Clean – Mostly this happens if you stay at a room for rent and you live with a family or it is managed by a family and they are living close by.  The decoration is quaint and cozy, there is the essence of home so it may look cluttered with nicknacks but it is clean and  you’re kinda embarrassed to make a mess.

Oh noes! Must wipe my shoes at the doorway.

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sparse cleanSparse  but Clean! – Some places have just the bare essentials and you almost have nothing in your room and perhaps you may have a one pillow or no table or chairs for you to use so you can organize your stuff.

Hey! If it was a cheap room you have to think… at least its clean!

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dusty cleanDusty Clean – There’s just dust more than usual but mostly things are in place and no bad odor coming from garbage or smelly  shoes. So  i guess they just don’t think of dusting and is  focused in keeping things in order.

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clean but smelly

Clean but SMELLY! – SERIOUSLY? How can it be clean but have a bad smell? Beats me! It just happens. Whether there’s not much ventilation or sweat have accumulated, musty odor from wet sources or perhaps mold. We have stayed at a place like this and believe me it was the better choice from a filthy place. You just have to be less picky.

And it’s still considered clean because you don’t see obvious garbage lying around and most things are put back in place but still

UGH! It’s darn smelly in here!

Clean with a sprinkle of BED BUGS,  BEWARE Bed Bugs BEWARE!

bedbugI have mentioned this before but I just cannot stress the fact that having bed bugs would drive you out of any hostel/hotel/room out even if it is sparkly clean.

It’s really a living nightmare. You feel threatened in a place where you need to feel the most safe, the bed. It’s not because it itches so much, mars your skin with rashes or gives you a scar. It’s the fact sometimes you don’t see them and they suck your blood. Lil tiny vampires that are invisible crawling on your skin, in parts you dont even let your partner touch, crawling inside your clothes. You feel violated after. And they are fast! 

They also can travel with you, latching on to your bags and clothes. It is DISGUSTING!

I of course prefer to stay at super ultra clean, cozy clean, sparse clean and even dusty clean….i can be dragged kicking and screaming to a clean but smelly place but never ever ever to a clean with a sprinkle of bed bugs. *shiver*

SECOND,  Lockers! Keeping your valuables safe is your how you survive.

I don’t think i even need to elaborate on this. When you travel to any place at least have a padlock with you. You need peace of mind that you have your passport, credit cards, electronics and money safely away. Of course a thief can be anywhere  but having a padlock at least gives you a fighting chance against theft.

THIRD, Location! Location! Location!

Having a place to stay at which is quite close to the sights you need to see is certainly one of the main qualities of a decent place. You don’t want to be walking for more than 40 minutes just  for the main attraction of the place you are visiting or to get to the nearest grocery store . At least have an ideal location where you can easily get different forms of transportation like  buses or taxis. I would like to add  train stations but i did not get to ride on any as a form of transportation in Central/ South America.

BONUS THIRD,  Friendly/good service from the owners or employees. Why?

Nothing can ruin your day than rudeness from a person that is being payed by you. It doesn’t matter if you’re just staying for a day in the cheapest room or dorm possible, You chose their place and you are not staying there for free. So you don’t need their horrible service. Specially if you know you are paying more than normal and could have chosen another hostel just down the road but they just did not serve breakfast *rant bitch rant* something like that.

FOURTH, Internet  service please.

How else are you going to find a place to stay at in your next destination? And some places you just need to find well in advance. Don’t tell me from a travel guide book. Because most of them were written by travelers a year or so before and a lot could happen in a year. Believe me! Once when we did not have internet and had to rely on a travel book that we ended up in a place that did not exist anymore, one was temporarily closed due to bed bugs and they did post that up in their site but we did not see it since.. we had NO INTERNET!
OR it used to have good service but went downhill and this could have been checked using TripAdvisor or Hostel World or other websites but we weren’t able to check out current reviews because… there was NO INTERNET!

I need some bandwidth here….

FIFTH, Peace and Quiet during sleeping hours.

See i am quite reasonable, i like being in a jolly place, specially in a hostel where they have an atmosphere of celebration, camaraderie between travelers and great communing area. But if the party just never ends and there are no rules in place to guide the guests towards keeping in mind that there are individuals that would like to have their shut eye snoring moments. Then its just a disappointment not to mention you feel cheated out of your money. So good management from the employees is a must.

SHHHHHHHHH!

SIXTH – Breakfast included!

This is music to my ears. TRA LA LA LA LA! Who doesn’t like this?

SEVENTH – Unlimited coffee and tea

cheshire with mugOMG! I love you. ❤  When i see those lil tea packets and a  percolator for coffee with sugar an electric kettle and mugs at your disposal almost 24/7 then i grin like the Cheshire cat

BONUS SEVENTH, A kitchen with pots/pans and other kitchen utensils for cooking.

I did not list this as my sixth becomes not everybody would like to cook their own meals or knows how to cook. But i have to say that the majority of travelers that we have encountered did cook their meals. So this is something you might want to look into when you try to find a hostel.

One time we started making spaghetti, I think we were in Guatemala, and it turned out that it was the family kitchen and that they did no allow their guests to cook. We had to apologize for the misunderstanding.

WOOPSY!

ADDED BONUS SEVENTH, Towels included!

This one again i did not include in the list although it is nice to have  fresh towels  to be provided, you still need to have to bring your own while backpacking.

These are MY characteristics of a DECENT place to stay in. It may border as Luxury for some backpackers when you are a budget traveler in Central and South America.

I think it depends on your budget but at least consider up to number 3, having a place that is  Clean, Safe and Good Location/ Service  to stay at.

I checked TripAdvisor and cross referenced it to Hostel World for most of my hostel picks while traveling. And because mos hostels would only have WiFi and not have any computers it is convenient nowadays to travel with a phone that you can use the internet with. I used the TripAdvisor app for that with my husband’s Samsung.

And because of the reviews I have read in TripAdvisor influenced why I chose the places we stayed at and the reviews were ever so helpful and matched a lot to what the reviewers had so helpfully volunteered to share, I as well then started to become a member and gave reviews to places we stayed at.

dlyn-sFor a complete list of my reviews to different hostels/hotels/rooms for rent in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru then check out MY TRIPADVISOR. And here are some examples of reviews i made during my travel in South America. There are voted as helpful by other travelers.

This one leaned towards a more positive note,

“The place has charm. The rooms were chilly but you get to have really good beds, tv and a bathroom with really hot water.
(+)
They leave an extra think blanket for you in the cabinet right away.
You can ask for more pillows if you want
Theres dinning chairs and a table for you inside your room just in case you want to eat there i guess.
Good wifi
Staff was very friendly and helpful and really tried to please you.
Breakfast was good.
Tea all day long =)

Suggestion: i wish they’d convert a room for a common area with books or a tv so that guests dont just stay in their rooms when it rains or while waiting for the bus.

So of course we went to see Machu Pichu but before going we made sure to book the same room when we got back from our trip for an extra day to stay.”

while this had more of a not so pleasing tone but i still tried to see the positive aspects of our stay there,

“I think the place has seen better days. It needs to be closed and renovated. Although we arent picky backpackers we would like to get our money’s worth and given the price they were asking and that we are in Nicaragua it is overpriced.

(+) HAMMOCKS!!! the common area looks so inviting with it and also the wooden chairs and tables distributed around.
Theres salsa/dance classes
Lots of computers to use
Free coffee at least

(-) Our room although spacious looks like a bodega
I kept waking up now and then to see if bed– bu gs were biting me. I saw some crawling on the wall and killed it. Because of this i slept with the light on and the fan blowing on us directly.

(Major negative) The kitchen and tv area is really filthy.”

So i hope this was a helpful but still a fun read for you my fellow travelers!

And many more travels for me and you.

(yes i dont capitalize my “i”s and dont use apostrophe ‘ )