Hostels are great for many things; they’re a convenient and cheap place to go, you can meet new people, and they usually have lots of events going on. They also have some horror stories of either disgusting filth, theft, or danger (hostel the movie anyone?).
While you’re unlikely to get either extreme, even the most standard hostel isn’t great for the working traveller. Here’s why hostels and digital nomads don’t mix.
There are some things that you NEED while trying to work and be productive:
- Stable Wifi. Tens or hundreds (depending on the size of your hostel) people sharing the same wifi signal is the worst. It may be fine for basic email and messaging, but depending on the nature of your work, you may need something stronger. Between you trying to get shit done, the person skyping their mom in the corner, the guy streaming movies, and everyone else doing God knows what, the internet may be on its last legs.
- A workspace. Most hostels have tables, a common area, or some laptop friendly area. Whether or not these will be cramped, near an outlet, or you’ll be next to a guy who looks like he’s about to spill his dinner and beer all over your laptop is a different story.
- Privacy. If not privacy, then at least like-minded people. Those workspaces in the common area aren’t exactly productive places when the people beside you are playing poker and the TV is turned up to the highest possible volume.
A Case Study: Kinlay House Dublin
I recently visited Dublin for a few days. This isn’t my first time visiting but there were still many things I wanted to see. I was here by myself and wanted to meet some new people, which is why I decided to stay in a hostel. I also wanted to get some productive things done. Organize my computer & cloud files, work on this blog, work on some graphics for Pinterest, etc.
Since I was in the city and not out in rural Ireland where I’ve primarily been staying I thought it was a good time to use some functional internet and be productive.
Turns out, you can’t really have both. I’ve certainly learned that hostels and digital nomads don’t mix. Kinlay House Dublin was a mixed bag of travellers. From your typical 19 year old just looking to party to the 50+ guy trying to socialize with everyone but still ends up snoring by 10 pm.
Trying to save some money (as I wasn’t working as much lately as I really should be), I booked a dorm. The reviews for Kinlay House seemed decent enough – free breakfast, clean, friendly, etc. The breakfast is free, it was clean, and the people were nice. I had a few good chats and went out with some new people, so that bit was nice.
When actually trying to do get things done is where I ran into some issues. Despite it being advertised that there is wifi throughout – that was barely true. From the room I couldn’t connect so I moved to the common area. This overcrowded room was full of people – playing cards, eating food, watching TV, etc. While louder than I would’ve liked, I popped in my headphones and moved to one of the few unoccupied tables.
While the wifi was better in the common room, it would disconnect and reconnect ever 2-5 minutes. This was painfully frustrating. Particularly if you’re trying to upload anything. Furthermore, about 15 minutes into trying to get some work done, people decided to play pool. Spatial awareness clearly wasn’t their strong suit as due to the overcrowded nature of the room, the table and the pool table were closer than they should’ve been and my laptop got hit with a pool cue one too many times.
Frustrated by this, I learned to be doing any of the work I wanted to at a cafe. The only downfall being that many were only open to 6 pm and the day time is when I wanted to do my exploring (as many other places are only open to 5 or 6 as well).
Alas, it’s a lesson learned. Now that I know that hostels and digital nomads don’t mix, I’ll be sticking to AirBnbs.