Hostel life in the times of COVID-19

Hostel life in the times of COVID-19

It’s time again when backpackers have started to move ahead with their vagabond life and head to hostels. But, in times of social distancing, how viable and safe is the idea of community and sharing as one stays in hostels.

Travel hostels have always attracted budget travellers and those who wanted to travel solo yet meet and greet with likeminded people. And now, as the world emerges from month long lockdowns, and travel restrictions being lifted, hotels, resorts, hostels all are reopening their doors. But this time, it’s not gonna be the same for hostels, which have always been about community living. The normal is going to look much different.

Hostel life in the times of COVID-19

Shraddha Khandelwal, Co-Owner, Moustache Hostel adds “Moustache Hostels have always been pretty big on community living. Our common rooms are designed keeping in mind the living rooms at home, a place where you can chill for hours. Post unlocking in this Covid era we are more cautious for the safety. Apart from regular sanitisation, paperless checking and digital payment mode, we are not giving out our dorms on full capacity”.

A new study reveals the shift in travel expectations of young backpackers amidst COVID-19 including where and how they want to travel post-lockdown and how ‘hostels’ will have to adapt. These hostels rely on the age group of 18 to 35 year olds, and don’t tend to attract any other age segment.

Dormitories, which are shared stay options, are more questionable when it comes to sanitation and hygiene. It’s time that these hostels apply for any safety accreditation schemes
. Dharamveer Singh Chouhan, Cofounder & CEO, Zostel affirms “Zostel is deeply invested in their safety and security and all our ground teams have undergone rigorous training to handle operations in the post un-lockdown. Our properties follow strict and frequent sanitization and hygiene measures along with continuous health monitoring of all staff as well guests. Needless to mention social distancing. Safety kits with masks, gloves, and sanitizers have been made compulsory while guests can also avail health insurance for a nominal cost”.

It’s time for owners and managers to review their policies and prep well so that it ensures a smooth functioning of these hostels post-lockdown without subtracting or omitting the sociability factor—arguably one of a hostel’s most important factors.
Anisha Agarwal, Team E-living projects who run Mudhouse Hostels in Jibhi Valley “We started our operations from September onwards and have been encouraging those who come for longer stays. Along with well-trained staffs, we are a little strict with guests moving around in the common area without masks. Kitchens are mostly being managed by in-house staff and no outsider enters the premise. We are encouraging mostly nature trails where travellers can take a little hike or trek and don’t have to use public transport. We can’t let anyone at risk. Our café seating has also been redone”.

Hostel life in the times of COVID-19

The location of few of these hostels arc ty based and hence have their side effects. Hostels like Madpackers are launching backpacking bus tours across Himachal, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan. These are fixed-departure, itinerary-based tours of upto 15 people. Road trips are the new norm and we’re offering a safe, sanitised and social way to do so for solo travellers and smaller groups. Mayank Shrivastava, Co-Founder of the same says “Travel hostels are that one place where I have seen communities thrive on exchange of thoughts, ideas and stories regardless of how close or apart the members are. We have also introduced
WorkHop: India‘s first and only remote work and travel subscription. You pay one fixed monthly amount in exchange of transport, meals, stay and experiences. We take you to a new destination every 10 days so that you can truly remote work”.

Disinfectant and sanitizer have now become a common sight in these places. Dorms barely see 50% occupancy and everyone is masked, that’s how the new age travel looks like. It’s time hostel owners play on their strengths and surroundings and diversify themselves.

With the struggles in hand, these hostels are now attempting to diversify revenue streams in order to survive.

Author: Ms. Ayandrali Dutta

Ayandrali Dutta, a journalist with more than 10+ years’ experience who also holds a degree in Psychology has worked with some of the top publication houses like Times of India, Dainik Bhaskar, India today, Exchange4media to name a few along with contributing to many others. She describes herself as a wanderer by passion,wordsmith by profession, and a home-chef by choice.

She believes in capturing moments and freezing them through her stories.

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