Travel Notes Week by Week

Week by Week 3: On Settling into Full-Time Hostel Life

August 4, 2015

I’ll start with a little bit of an apology here: this weekly check-in is kind of late. Two weeks late, actually. The truth is that I completely lost track of time the first week I was due for an update. By the time I realized an entire week had passed, a second had already begun…and I was completely exhausted. Balancing my return to long work hours with local exploring and hostel living got the best of me, leaving me feeling more than a little run-down. I may be playing catch-up this week, but I am finally settling into this Broome life. I finally made the move back to my beloved Cable Beach Backpackers, and for now, I’m calling this hostel home.

When I first moved to Broome, I wasn’t planning on living at a backpackers full-time. I quickly realized that it’s actually one of the best and most popular options for travelers here. The main alternatives are sharehouses and campervan living. Sharehouses tend to be more affordable for couples, though I do know a few solo backpackers who’ve landed themselves solid sharehouse accomodation. For a lot of people temporarily working in Broome, hostels are the housing of choice.

I’ve never lived at a hostel full-time. I stay in hostels when I travel, but living abroad, I’ve always been lucky enough to have at least a semi-independent living situation. Studying abroad in Costa Rica, I had my own room at a homestay in San José. In Thailand, I shared a house on school grounds with a couple of other teachers, and in Melbourne, I had a studio apartment with some of my friends. Here in Broome, I’m making calling a hostel home for the first time. If you’d asked me five years ago, what my life would look like today, I definitely wouldn’t have guessed that a top bunk in a four-bed dorm would be the extent of my personal space. But you know what? It’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. As it turns out, I haven’t outgrown hostel life yet.

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Full-time hostel life isn’t perfect. Common areas are less than pristine, especially in the kitchen and after a few hours of drinking at night. Clothes, cords and bags tend to get strewn around the dorm rooms, and while fellow travelers are generally respectful, people coming and going on a regular basis doesn’t guarantee you the best sleep of your life. You can’t invite friends over for drinks, let alone offer them a couch to crash on. There are horror stories: unbearable snorers, backpackers who can’t be bothered to shower, drunks peeing or, even worse, vomiting in dorm rooms at night. (Luckily, I’ve encountered none of these scenarios in my current set-up!) Perhaps most annoying of all is that hostel kitchens and wi-fi are often shut down at night, leaving you unable to access your food or stream a movie at night. Sometimes when I think of my friends’ beautiful apartments and houses back home — complete with comfortable furniture, fully stocked kitchens and pets nonetheless! — my life feels decidedly ungrownup in comparison.

Still, despite its downsides, I’m loving my hostel residency. For me, the pros far outweigh the cons. The trick, I think, is finding the right hostel — the perfect combination of a good location, great people and a certain vibe. After a week at Cable Beach, I’d moved to town for the sake of having a short walk to work. It wasn’t worth it. The hostel in town was too big, too rigid and too antisocial. When a generous friend offered me use of a bike for work one night, I made plans to move back to my beachside hostel first thing the next morning. My ride to work is only twenty minutes, and I love it even more than I expected. At night, when the air is cool, the streets empty and the stars aglow, it’s the perfect opportunity to wind down and daydream. A few nights ago, I even saw a wallaby on my ride home. How could you not love that commute?!

For now, calling this beachside hostel home means outdoor living, pool time and hammocks. It means having everything I need, from a bed and space to relax to a kitchen and bathrooms with hot showers. It means living less than five minutes from one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen and, most importantly, having heaps of people ready to explore it with anytime. This is the best part of full-time hostel life for a solo traveler like me — never being left out or alone. Living here longterm means having a community, and that can be everything.

Plus, upgrading to a bottom bunk is only a short wait away. Now that’s living the good life.

We were SO psyched to see this little wallaby with an even littler joey in her pouch!

We were SO psyched to see this little wallaby with an even littler joey in her pouch!

//THIS WEEK

Reading…

Still on Anna Karenina. In all honesty, I haven’t read much at all the past couple of weeks. Working fifty hours a week has kept me too busy, and living at a backpackers has left me distracted with people and plans — in the best way possible, of course!

Listening to…

Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” has been everywhere recently — and I’m not hating it! I’ve also been getting back into The Kooks in a big way, especially their 2006 Inside In/Inside Out album. Considering my life now, it’s funny to listen to this album and remember how much I loved the track “Do You Want to See the World” way back when in high school.

& Feeling Inspired by…

Last Week by Week, I shared a post focusing on the sometimes-hardships of longterm travel. Now that I’m starting to feel at home here in Broome, I’m all sorts of re-inspired thinking about everything I want to do here and elsewhere in Australia. Carmelisse’s “Why I Prioritize Travel” on her blog at hereandair.com couldn’t have found me at a better time.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Allison August 7, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Full-time hostel life sounds exhausting! I think you’re spot-on though in that finding the right hostel is totally essential! I’ve definitely had experiences like the horror stories you’ve listed and they’re not fun!
    Allison recently posted…The Benefits of a Gap Year – 5 Years LaterMy Profile

    • Reply Katie August 8, 2015 at 2:54 am

      It can be! But when you’re exhausted, at least there’s always a hammock to escape to.

  • Reply Dad August 11, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    We lived in the ‘burbs in Atlanta also 🙂 Keep the stories coming. Love ya Katie !

    • Reply Katie August 12, 2015 at 1:01 am

      Yeah, didn’t forget Georgia but didn’t think it counted as one of the “smaller cities” 🙂

  • Reply The Nomadic Londoner September 10, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    Wow! Living full time in a hostel is a brave choice indeed! I’ve always loved to stay in hostels when travelling solo – it’s such a great way to meet people but I have to say as I’ve got older I don’t know if I can do hostel life anymore. Sharing a room with 12 people in Cartagena with the bar and booming music right outside our door was an experience. So was sharing a room with 4 Aussie girls who continuously did coke, pukked up in the bin so they could do more and had a threesome! Lol! After that, I decided paying a little extra for a private room is the way forward in hostels for me!

    • Reply Katie September 11, 2015 at 12:33 am

      Whoa, definitely couldn’t live in a room like that full-time! I hear you. Here, I currently share a four-bed dorm with two other girls who also work. The hostel has its wild nights (although not like your story!), but it has even more relaxed ones. I couldn’t stay in any hostel full-time. You definitely have to find one with the right vibe!

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