Travelling Using Hostels

In 2008, I travelled across New Zealand for three months and stayed in over 10 hostels. It was a dream scenario to take a leave from work and travel to a beautiful country with only a bag and a camera. But the reality was that I knew it was going to take some planning to make sure I stayed safe.

I chose hostels because of their affordability.

But as a person with multiple food allergies (peanut and fish) I was still worried about eating in a shared kitchen.

How did I do it? I travelled with my own little portable kitchen. With having backpack staples I would just have to pick up fresh veggies, fruit, and bread in a new location to have nutritious and safe meals.

I would first set off to find a grocery store and grab items that were simple staples (seen below) that were easy to travel with and made one bowl meals. Non-refrigerated condiments were key to making food taste delicious. Grains like couscous cook quickly and only need boiling water and boost up any salad.

I would eat during off-peak hours. It allowed me to have really clean surfaces and avoid other people’s cooking odours.

London, United Kingdom - March 17, 2015: A man at the entrance of the St Pauls Youth Hostel in London, England. The Youth Hostel Association provides accommodation in 200 locations in England and Wales

Tips for Travelling to a Hostel

  • Eat during non-peak hours. No one will be in the kitchen and you can sanitize an area and sink without worry of people touching or cooking something that you may react to.
  • Bag your groceries in a disposable plastic bag for the fridge. When leaving, I would transfer it to my clean cloth bag insuring that nothing from the fridge contaminated my items
  • Pack your own cutting board, paring knife, soap, and cutlery
  • Re-wash any dishwater you may use in the hostel before beginning to cook
  • Prepare simple meals that require little to no time to cook

Backpack Staples

  • Instant oatmeal
  • Brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Couscous
  • Mustard
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Crackers

It was an affordable and positive way to travel. I met a lot of people who shared many common interests with me. Staying food safe was a big part of me feeling comfortable travelling by myself in a new country.

– Catherine B.

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