First time in a HOSTEL

Whether it was in the United States or outside the United States, I’ve yet to have a bad experience using an Airbnb. But now, having typed those words, I just jinxed myself and the next time is going to be awful! Haha…oops!

But that’s ok, if I can convince you that staying in places other than hotels are a great experience. If you want $40 off your next stay at any Airbnb in the world or your choice, use this link.



My first non-hotel stay wasn’t in a Airbnb, or anything even similar to that. It was back before I even knew these things existed. I was 18 years old, just graduated high school, and was waiting for my time to go to bootcamp (if you didn’t know- I served 4 years active duty) I was living in Washington state at the time, and I’ve been planning out a trip to Hollywood for weeks. This was my “rebellious” moment because I didn’t let my parents in on these plans until my tickets came in the mail…did I mention I was traveling ALONE!

I remember I was sitting in the kitchen and my mom walks in with an open envelope holding tickets with a confused look on her face… “Jen—are you going somewhere?”

Anyways, I was planning this trip on my own, and paying for everything with my savings from working part time. I knew I had to go cheap since I was planning to be there a week and only had about $800 to work with. I figured the biggest money saver was getting around while I was there (I  took buses and subways) and where I was going to stay.

I had never stayed in hostels before, and never knew anyone personally who had, but I was on a budget, and I figured–how bad could it be?!

I stayed at theBanana Bungalow Hostel on Hollywood blvd. It was awesome! I had such a great experience and it truly opened my eyes to a different way of traveling. I loved that entire trip because it gave me a HUGE amount of independence and travel confidence.

I know theres horror movies about young girls alone getting into trouble, but as long as you act with street smarts you’ll be fine…

…the world is only as dangerous as you make it. There’s bad places in our hometowns and across the world, but you can’t let fear stop you from experiencing the world. Theres more good than bad–you just have to trust yourself and live a little.

My first experience in a hostel went like this:

  • shared kitchen
  • shared bathroom
  • lots of friendly foreigners who love to travel and save money–and thats why they’re there too
  • bike rentals were awesome
  • karaoke night made you get out of your shell
  • walking distance to everything on Hollywood blvd
  • sharing dorm rooms
  • lockers for your things when you leave the room

I stayed in a co-ed dorm room with 8 beds I believe…but it was awhile ago, so it might have been 10.  My decision to stay in a co-ed room was simple–it was cheaper! I grew up in a very conservative way, no parties, no drunk nights, no sneaking out…I was the definition of “goody-to-shoes”. So yes I was nervous about the possibility of sharing the room with strangers, let alone guys of unknown ages. But it was fine! I never had a moment of awkwardness or the feeling of being scared of nervous. My first day I woke up with 3 room mates- all dudes- and all foreign. They were traveling together, didn’t speak English, and didn’t acknowledge me, and I was 100% ok with that! I wasn’t there to mingle, I wanted to see the sites!

Don’t let stereotypes scare you from having new experiences. Yes new things can be scary, but like I said earlier… as long as you act with street smarts, you’ll be fine.     



  1. Its cheaper
  2. You meet other travelers
  3. The people. You have better memories with a bunch of strangers rather than sitting alone in a hotel room. Plus you all share an interest- travel!
  4. They typically have kitchens which will save you even more money by buying and cooking food!
  5. They normally offer bike rentals; hotels don’t do that!