Hello! Thank you for following my blog and reading these blog posts. I have been posting new content of this following website: www.backpackingdesigirl.com Be sure to subscribe your email on the new website to get the latest articles from my latest travels around the world! Have a blessed day!
When people think of hostels, they generally think horror movies or college dorms. I beg to differ, from personal experience. I want people to get a better idea of dorms in hostels from a female traveler or backpacker’s perspective.
I do not always stay in hostels, especially if I cannot find a female vacant dorm bed. I refuse to stay in mixed, or co-ed, dorms; although some people really do not mind. Mixed dorms are much cheaper. Most hostels have female dorms, male dorms, mixed dorms, and private rooms (think simplified hotel rooms). A lot of time, friends traveling together, or couples, will stay in mixed dorms. As a solo traveler, who is a female, I always find comfort in female dorms though. I only stayed in a mixed dorm once, $6 per bed per night, and the dorm roommates were nice; still, not my thing. I felt uncomfortable in mixed dorms. People are still very respectful for your space and all, but I prefer female dorms for the reasons below:
1. Female dorms tend to have a lot of solo travelers, so you make friends easily with other solo travelers. I strike up conversations easily, and next thing I know, it feels like we have known each other forever and explore the city, mountains, towns, take bus/train rides, together.
2. We generally look after each other. I have never had anything stolen or misplaced. Now, be cautious and use common sense to keep valuables safe of course. Nonetheless, my female roommates have always been super nice and friendly. We borrow things too sometimes. I remember during my Euro trip in my early 20s, I was in Athens, Greece. I was washing clothes by hand, and needed detergent/soap and a brush, and a girl kindly let me use hers.
3. Safety and privacy. Some people do not care to make themselves at home in mixed dorms, but I always feel safer in female dorms. Sometimes, we hang our clothes, including all clothes, to dry on dorm beds when there is no washer/dryer in sight. Not all hostels allow this, but some do. In Manarola, Italia, my dorm mates and I had to dry clothes, and we opened the window for more air. Next thing we know, one of a intimate piece of clothing from one of the Australian girls’, that was hanging on the window, flew out and fell below! we all cracked up!! Most people are chill and adapt. We learn to help each other, so after half hour laughing, and debating if someone should go get that, we finally ended up hiking the mountains in Italian western coast together and grabbing some Nutella crepes. It is a safe space. Some dorms even have curtains or sliding doors! I love that! It helps with having to change or just have privacy. Mostly, female dorms are cleaner and more organized too-I noticed.
4. Female dorms end up feeling like slumber parties, with strangers, who feel like family and friends within moments of meeting. Travelers and backpackers have a way of connecting with others like no others. It is strange, but we somehow can share our whole life stories with ease, and learn so much about other cultures and countries. Each traveler has a passport full of visas and stamps, each representing millions of encounters and colorful stories, good and bad. We are all tied together through an invisible thread, and the journey continues. Some, you stay in touch with, but some, you wish farewell, and wonder what new adventure awaits them in life! … yet each person leaves behind a message or memory that will last forever. I collect memories with new friends and my temporary family while traveling, not souvenirs.
So what is the layout of a female dorm? Generally, most hostels will post the price per dorm bed per dorm room. For example, a 4 bed dorm is going to be much more expensive than a 16 bed dorm. The more people crammed into a room the cheaper, obviously! The older I get, I prefer staying in the 2-6 bed dorm rooms to minimize risk of noise and clutter. I am not much of a party backpacker. I prefer peace and quiet, and occasionally will chill at happy hour or go out with new traveling friends. I do not like to be up till 2 am drinking or partying though, not my style. To each their own, but I prefer to do my research, and look for non party hostels. Some people prefer party hostels. I am not one of them. Most dorms have reduce noise policy after a certain time though. The rules may be lenient in party hostels, but again, the crowd there probably is looking to party anyway. Also, the many female dorms come with en suite bathroom, meaning the bathroom is attached to the room for the female guests only. I prefer that. Sometimes, it can be a hassle to find a common vacant bathroom, especially during morning rush hour when everyone wants to shower at the same time! En suite bathroom rooms are also more expensive, but I think worth the few extra bucks or whatever local currency is! They are cleaner. Communal bathrooms are ok too, as I have stayed in many air bnbs and hostels with them, and had no issues (tip:shower at night when everyone is still out and bathrooms have just been cleaned!). I just prefer en suite ones. We leave our shower caps and towels in there, and it feels like home. Especially in the smaller 2-4 bed dorm rooms. Dorms come with lockers too, for the most part. Always carry your own lock and key.
Try one for yourself next time! The friendships and connections I make in hostel dorms, cannot be found in most secluding overpriced hotels, especially when solo traveling. Some adjustment is required, but you also save ton of money, literally. That allows for more travel time, and investing in other experiences. 🙂
I use http://www.hostelworld.com. There are other sites out there too!
I will do a post on Air bnbs in the future. The older I get, I also prefer them more sometimes when I just need my space. Some Air bnbs can be cheaper or equally prices to hostel dorms, depending on place and time! I have also made ton of friends in Air bnbs with locals and other travelers. Stay tuned for that post…
This is bare minimum for simplistic/minimalist travelers or backpackers. You can extend the budget for $1,000 per month per person too. I will do another spreadsheet at a later time on that. That allows a lot more flexibility. At the end of the day, it is your trip, you decide. It can be cheaper to travel the world, than live in large Metropolitan cities in the U.S. paying rent or mortgage. You do need to work hard and save up for this, or work as you go finding ways to generate income. I generally volunteer when traveling, but I budget wisely and am a hardcore minimalist. The only thing I splurge on is food, but even that, I find good deals!
Today is the birthday of Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, in the Hindu spiritual realm. I have reverence for all faiths and religions, and I am more spiritual than religious. However, my connection to Lord Krishna, who I consider my best friend, goes back to before I can even remember. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember making sketches and paintings of baal Krishna (baby Krishna). In the Indian Gujarati part of my culture, we greet each other with Jai Shri Krishna, to say hi and bye. There is no direct translation for hello. It is a Godly greeting to greet and part.
During the festival of Janmashtami, people celebrate by recreating Lord Krishna’s childhood events such as matki phod. It is when a clay matki/pot it hung on a rope between trees, poles, or buildings. It is filled with makhan, a thick type of yogurt, which was Lord Krishna’s favorite childhood snack. He used to break into people’s homes as a child to steal the makhan to feed to his friends and cousin, while licking the rest with his hands. He would get caught white handed, literally. A lot of Lord Krishna’s childhood stories teach of morals and righteousness vs societal evil (jealously, power, greed, etc.). A lot if it is symbolic.
The Bhagvad Gita, which is the holy book for Hindus, is written as a dialogue between Lord Krishna and Arjun, his mentee. The book is not meant to preach Hinduism. In fact, it is a spiritual book that can be applied to whichever faith or even people who choose not to believe in a higher power. Wherever I travel, I take a mini Bhagvad Gita with me. Spirituality is different from religion, but both can be deeply intertwined. I feel at home in Synagogues in Fort Kochi, cathedrals in London, Colombia, Santiago de Chile, temples in Banaras, Buddhist monasteries in Sarnath. I have yet to visit a Mosque or Sikh temple, but I have many Muslim and Sikh friends who I highly respect and wish on their holidays. I know Sikh prayer and Islam prayer. I used to recite everyday in the past. It helps me connect to people all over the world when I volunteer serving the communities. I never feel like a foreigner. I am always taken in as a family member wherever I go in the world with love and respect. My spirituality has a name, love for Lord Krishna, who is my best friend and travel buddy, but my spirituality teaches me tolerance and empathy for all.
This is one my favorite spiritual days because it makes me happy to celebrate the birthday of someone I adore. My name means Lord Vishnu, and my parents did not even know the meaning of my name when they named me Jinal. I learned later on with invention of yahoo search engine. My connection to this name and the avatar of Krishna can only be explained by the images that come to mind as I hold a paint brush or pencil.
I am all about non conventional, avoiding status quo, following your dreams and calling, taking risks, being different, being yourself, being real, and I am turning my passion of writing into publishing a book. Well, I have some ideas. I have started drafts in the past. My current work leaves me so exhausted, but I plan to start soon. I keep hoping to inspire others to do what makes them come alive. It may mean being away from family and friends, or the familiar, or taking a pay cut. Whatever it is, money does not buy happiness. Real friends and family will always be with you no matter how far you wander. Also, travel forces you to make new friends on the road.
Naam rab ka naam Sai ka Ali Ali Ali.. I believe in all religions and respect all faiths. I feel at home in Cathedrals, as I do in Temples. I know Christian and Buddhist prayers. I know Islam and Sikh prayers. I learned them at Manav Sadhna, Gandhi Ashram in India.
Pagli Hawaein mujhe jaha bhi le jaye, hawa ki saheli hu mein
The crazy air takes me wherever, I am the air’s friend.
Mein ek pal hu yaha, ek pal hu waha
I am here one moment, and somewhere else another momemt
Aakash hai koi prem kavi, mein hu uski likhi kavita
The sky is a a lovely poet, I am its written poem.
I love poetry. I used to write short stories and poems in 3 languages. Mostly English and Hindi.
To breathe is to live
To live is to explore
To explore is to wander
To wander is to discover
To grow, to learn, to be humbled by our world
A world like a kaleidoscope
of many perspectives
of many colors
for an Indian American female to travel the world and break barriers speaking Spanish and Japanese, French or Somali, Hindi or Gujarati, or whatever new languages I try to learn, I try to be mindful of local cultures. The world needs more peace makers. Spread kindness. Do not be tied down by status quo and dogma. I am going to be a 70 year old lady dancing to old songs and hip hop! Always embrace your inner child.
“Faith and Prayer are both invisible, but they make impossible things possible.” _Buddha
As I love blogging, here is yet another entry. Lately, I have been re-evaluating a lot of my life’s choices and outcomes. I am at crossroads considering doing a travel/volunteer trip. The only thing is that this time, I prefer to go with others who share similar ideals and vision to help others. I have NGOs in mind, but I want to do my own thing and travel and do free health screenings and education classes for locals. There are so many logistics to take into account, and it is not a one person thing. I would need to have a team, or at least one other person. I can use assistance with this. It would a dream project, but really, a prayer or offering to God.
How is it that a girl so shy and quiet, ends up so outgoing and a world traveler. I consider myself a global citizen, and I have made friends from all over the world. I think my spirituality has a lot to do with it. For me, spirituality is something very personal, and I don’t judge others based on their views and connection with God, higher power, universe, or however they see it. For me, I was raised as a Hindu, but I love to learn about all faiths and religions. I felt at home in a Synagogue in Fort Kochi, as I did in a famous Cathedral in London, or temple in my hometown. When I travel, I do not impose my thoughts on anyone. Instead, I try to learn about their belief system. I have always been highly spiritual. I see God as my best friend.
However, I am not a fan of orthodox rituals from the 1800s that use religion as a way to discriminate people due to caste or for being a female going through menses. I have volunteered in India with NGOs to fight such prejudice and educate on health and unity. I lived in Gandhi Ashram NGO Manav Sadhna’s volunteer house for few months and emersed myself in local culture. I washed my clothes by hand, played with neighbor’s kids, did bunch of child development education and assessment to local preschool/daycares called anganwadis. My spirituality took me there. It connected me to strangers like family. I make friends fast, and they feel like family to me when I travel, sometimes, even closer than family. One of my favorite spiritual quests besides my stay at Manav Sadhna, was at Sarnath, Banaras, UP, India. I visited the Banyan tree under which Buddha gave first sermons. I went alone, taking a rikshaw from Banaras hostel to the town of Sarnath. It was so enlightening. I promised myself to remember the moments and teachings, but it is easy to get carried away in day to day life, especially work life in the states.
People from other countries take it easy and relax more, but here, is it all about climbing the ladder and making money. That does not suit well with me. I am a strong believer that God will give my fair dues, and my job is not to be a millionaire. My job is to help others, as it is my way of praying, and being a nurse/nurse practitioner is a medium that allows me to do so.
Traveling and meeting strangers allows me to gain a better perspective of life in other parts of the world. All of this is due to my spirituality. Without my connection to God, and trust in the universe to have my back, how would I have hikes mountains in Salento, Colombia alone, or taken overnight bus rides to Bogota, trains in India in Kerala, or dared to do any of my solo travels?! Faith in God, and faith in myself. My dream is to open a NGO, or free clinic. Especially for pediatrics. I would love to be able to travel, and get paid for it, so I can spread kindness and love while helping the sick medically. So far, I have done short volunteer trips and bunch of backpacking, but to be able to have the funds, resources, and keep my Nursing/NP licenses up to date, and travel like that, would be a dream. I also would need the right people with me. I have been a solo backpacker enough, but somethings in life, you need help or a buddy. Most people care to work 9 to 5 and earn a paycheck. Which is great too, and I have done that too. I will do that in the future too, especially when I have children to raise. I am set on giving them a world class education and teaching empathy by traveling with them, and teaching values of volunteering and giving.
However, the world needs more storytellers, people who go out of their way to help others, even if there is no hefty pay involved. Traveling is my passion, and I travel as a minimalist. Nursing is also my passion. Through my spirituality, I have been trying to combine the two. I cannot just be jobless and travel all the time and volunteer as I have thousands of dollars to pay for annual malpractice insurance, license/credentialing updates, and whatnot. I have to keep up to date working locally in the states somehow. I see possibilities where others see barriers.
Traveling opens the mind to that, and it helps expand one’s horizons. Often, people do not understand me, but I understand them. Sometimes, the people that are supposed to be closest to you, don’t get you, because they have not traveled the world or seen through different perspectives the way you have. I say, travel whenever you can. It is the best education you can give yourself. Spirituality for me, allowed me to travel so much, especially solo as a young female. Most importantly, faith in yourself is all you need to follow your dreams. Like the lamp in Aladdin, let your faith be the lamp and the universe or God be the geenie, whoever you believe in. The magic carpet is your imagination. If you beleive in something without doubts, it will happen. I made world travel possible when everyone doubted me. When my friends and family dis not understand or support my decisions. People in my life did not get my spontaneous plans or need for adventure. I listened to my calling, faith, and the universe made my dreams a reality. Do not let status quo or dogma limit your life. Everything is possible. This is from my 29th birthday. Don’t mind the food/chocolate stains on my shirt. People always say I look younger than my age. I used to wear glasses to make me look older, but I hated them, so got lasic. I think in when you can laugh at yourself, make others laugh, and smile from within, not fake smile, you will always look young as that is what children do. Children do not let society rip their dreams yet, so do not let anyone do that as an adult. Let your inner child out, and always be silly. Well, there are times to be serious…. but but for the most part, it is ok to be weird or different. Life would be boring if we all were the same. Like all women in my family, I will always look 10 yeqrs younger than my age. I used to let it get to me as people would not take me seriously. I diagnose and treat people fot a living, do not call me sweetheart. I hated that. Now, I just joke right back. Not as sweet as I look if you call me that one more time.. the injection is in my hand. have wrinkles from laughing, not from stress. Give yourself a whole new world…. one of my fav songs. I feel like I am living the song whenever I travel.4 I love airports and my bookbag. New places and new people. I may be an introvert, own it, but sure am very outgoing thanks to my faith helping me build myself up traveling the world. Faith and spirituality gave me a life I thought only celebrities can live, going to Switzerland, Interlaken is one of my fav towns in the world! ❤ All I learned how to say in German is thank you, but for me gratitude for all blessings, only brings more to you. Thanking strangees for their kindness is priceless where you go in the world mis amigos!
Hello my readers,
Everyone has passions, and dancing is one of my passions. How does this tie to traveling? Well, when on the road, as I say, I have to keep fit. I love exercising, and the gym is my second home. However, when traveling, I do not always have access to a gym; ok, I usually don’t. Therefore, I find creative ways to workout. I have to be what I preach. Dancing is something that is so much fun, a full body workout, mood booster, can do anywhere, and can be done for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, and heck, even 2 hours. Yes, I have danced for 2 hours straight before! I firmly believe that one does not have to be a “good” dancer to dance. What is a good dancer anyway? Life is no competition. I love dancing in the rain, dancing in the kitchen, the gym, at events, and even in my office once I shut the door. It is about doing what makes you happy. If dancing makes you miserable, don’t do it, but if you can let go of fear of what people think, and shake a hip or move that arm without any rhythm, all power to you! Life is not about what others think of you. I love when people who are non-dancers try to dance. It is the cutest and sweetest thing! Just being yourself and letting go. Having a good time without a care in the world! I may be dancing from before I could walk in a straight line, and done a lot of stage shows and trained in different dance forms, but my fav is impromptu. I love breaking it down to random music, especially Latino.. Baila baila.. Despacito ❤ I remember taking classes in Bogota, Colombia and this was my song! I also love hip hop at my gym; we have classes 2x a week, but I go based on my work schedule. Some of my fav Hip Hop/random songs to dance to are: Disclaimer: The lyrics are well, its hip hop.. not PG 13. I am a feminist, as I believe in equality, so naturally, I do NOT endorse these lyrics. I find most of the songs, except for that’s my girl/Havanna/MIC Drop (well I don’t understand Korean),as having really disrespectful lyrics. I don’t like the womanizer/objectifying women lyrics, but the songs are fun to dance to nonetheless. Music is music. I dance to hip hop, pop, slow contemporary, I dance to bunch of Indian Hindi songs, I dance to Latino jam.. dance is dance. No hatin allowed.
Good ol Livin la vida loca
Work from home
That’s my girl
and of course, my all time fav: Despacito
my South America, Colombia, Jam: Havana. This was my South America Backpacking Trip anthem. I played this and Despacito on repeat for 2 months.
Here are my Indian (Hindi/Punjabi) jams to break it down to:
my childhood jam that they made into a remix: aankh maare
have your own dance parties! I miss my friends and I dancing randomly in basements and acting out scenes from movies using table clothes as dresses and being all weirdos. Good times.
Of course there is always 90s pop: Backstreet Boys, Destiny’s Child, Brittany Spears: my guilty pleasure. You drive me crazy… bye bye byeee
If you dance to these songs (no need to be in rhythm, just dance however or walk in a straight line waving your hands), I can guarantee you will burn some calories and get a great workout in. It is about having fun. Dancing releases endorphins which help with Serotonin in the brain causing feelings of happiness!
Music does not discriminate. DO your thing. Dance like no one is watching, and well if someone is, then who cares?! Be happy, live, smile, laugh, dance, and make others laugh!