Hi Katie, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your YouTube channel and blog The Hostel Girl.

My name’s Katie, and I began my Youtube channel to support my hostel travel blog, TheHostelGirl.com. The blog began as a way to share my own experiences in my hostel life, but it has instead become a platform where I can share the way in which hostelling advances international understanding and  acceptance amongst thousands of travellers worldwide.

I love using Youtube now as much as writing the blog, because it feels as if I am having a conversation with my readers (especially if the video was requested!) and allows me to show case locations and hostels in a far more vivid way than just using photos.

How do you prep for your videos?

If the video is more of a vlog of a trip I’m on, or a hostel I’m visiting, there’s less prep involved, and much more of just keeping the camera on hand incase something occurs that I just have to get on film to show my followers.

When I’m filming a ‘how-to’ video I write down all the arguments I want to cover and the points that address each argument so I have a script handy if I go off on a tangent (which happens alot!). Then the hardest part of prep is finding a quiet spot wherever I am in Europe in which to film.

What’s your favourite hostel you’ve stayed in and why?

My answer to this question will always be The Paintshop Hostel and Surfcamp in Figueira da Foz, Portugal, as it was the first hostel I stayed in as a solo traveller. The people I met there and the fun I had definitely inspired almost everything I’ve chosen to do since in the hostel industry. 

Can you share one of your worst hostel experiences? (No need to mention names!)

Two years ago I spent time working in a pretty old-school hostel where security wasn’t great and the owners didn’t really know what they were doing. On my very first night shift ever a guy who wasn’t staying in the hostel followed a group of girls through the front door and tried to follow them in to their room.

I hadn’t had any training in how to deal with this, but luckily managed to wake the manager who lived on site and was an ex-army Ranger to boot the guy out and call the police. I’m now very focused on personal safety awareness for travellers and finding hostels in which solo female travellers can feel safe and secure. 

The Hostel Girl

The Hostel Girl

Do you have any fun stories you can share from your time in hostels?

Of course – that’s why I keep going back! I recently hired bikes from a great hostel in Valencia, Red Nest, with two of the guests and had such a fun day out riding through the ‘Garden of Turia’ which was developed when they had to re-route the river that runs through the city due to flood damages.

I also stumbled on an outdoor cinema in Amsterdam Noord a couple of weeks back and took some others guests from the hostel I was staying at, the new ClinkNOORD. I was so nervous when we turned up that it had been a bad idea as the film was so strange and everyone was silent – the film sound came through individual wireless headphones. But everyone had such a blast and enjoyed the movie so it was a great alternative to the usual bar crawl!

The rest of the night my roommates and I stayed up reading Amazon reviews of sugar free gummy bears and I fell asleep with tears of laughter still in my eyes! Random nights like that are definitely the best.

I’ve been reading a lot about ‘Flashpacker Hostels’. Can you tell us what these are and have you stayed in any?

Flashpacking is a term that’s used to refer to backpackers who also carry a lot of fancy equipment like smartphones, laptops, cameras, etc. When you think about it, almost everyone is a flashpacker these days (I definitely am with all my blogging equipment!) so a Flashpacker Hostel caters to this by offering plugs for every bed, and wifi everywhere!

They also tend to have a more luxury or boutique design to them, catering to travellers who have a bit more budget and could possibly afford hotels, yet still want the social atmosphere of a hostel. I’ve stayed in a few, the most recent being Room007 Chueca in Madrid, and ClinkNOORD in Amsterdam.

Katie Dawes The Hostel Girl

Katie Dawes The Hostel Girl

What advice do you have for anyone apprehensive about staying in a hostel?

First – we all get nerves! I still get them, as each time you walk in to a new hostel you don’t know who you’re going to meet. So don’t worry about being nervous. Remember that there will be so many characters in one hostel that you’re sure to find someone you get along with.

If it’s your first hostel, then research is definitely key. Make sure to read reviews left by previous guests on sites like Hostelworld and my blog, and try your best to choose a hostel you feel is right for you. I also recommend getting to know the staff – they’ve seen it all and are there to make you feel comfortable so if you have any issues take it straight to them.

But most of all, know that almost each and every person in the hostel is a traveller or tourist just like you, who just wants to meet others and experience a new city.

What equipment are you using to film?

All I use is the Sony a5000, with the original lens it came with. I’m looking to invest in a couple of lenses that will help me shoot better inside footage (necessary for hostels!) but for the moment it has everything I need. It’s compact, light, and for its size I think the quality is fantastic.

Any plans to use Periscope or Meerkat on your travels?

My biggest issue with Periscope and Meerkat is not having wifi abroad. I just don’t have the ability to change data plans every time I change countries… so I’m looking forward to the proposed EU law when all this should change!

I do however use Snapchat religiously so you can find me on there (the_hostelgirl) if you want live updates on my travels!

Can you narrow down a favourite country?

Oh my goodness! Well I spend a lot of time in France, but this is often because it’s a great place to stop between being in Europe and going home to the UK. I also love the Netherlands and it’s fantastic cycling and art culture!

Right now though I would probably say Morocco. I’m heading back there this week to stay for about two months and that’s all because of the great people, culture and food.

Which country do you want to go to but haven’t been able to yet?

I would love to do a US roadtrip. I love driving and I’ve read Steinbeck’s ‘Travels with Charley’ more times than I can count so this is definitely one of my top things to do before I die.

Can you tell us about the future plans for The Hostel Girl Youtube Channel?

 I need to organise my uploads and plan out a certain day, once a week, when you can all expect a new upload! I’ve found it hard to stick to a schedule so far but this is definitely a priority so watch this space! 

What’s your favourite film?

‘Rust and Bone’, or ‘De rouille et d’os’. In my opinion it’s Cotillard’s best ever role, although both of the leads are so mesmerising. I love this film because of the determination they both have, and they way in which they encourage each other despite all the odds.

What’s your favourite documentary?

I don’t watch many documentaries (2016 new year resolution) but Exit Through the Gift Shop has always got my brain ticking. I can’t figure out if the whole thing is another Banksy joke or not! 

If you look outside your window what do you see?

Sunshine and rain. It’s my last full day in my hometown for a couple of months so it would be nice to see a rainbow later…

For my great advice on travel and staying in hostels you can subscribe to her YouTube Channel. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.