Backpacking through Australia is a fantastic way to see the country and for the most part, it can be done inexpensively. There are charming little bed and breakfasts that ask almost unbelievably low rates and out-of-the-way hotels that are as cheap as they are neat and clean.

Then you get to Sydney. All of a sudden, charm costs an arm and a leg and out-of-the-way means out of the city. Don’t fret, there are still a few options for the budget-minded backpacker that will allow you to experience the best of the city and still manage to have enough left over for a pint or two.

One of the best deals is to look for a dorm or hostel. Before you gasp and go running to the nearest Hilton, take a minute to look into this form of accommodation.  These aren’t your Daddy’s dorms. Today’s hostels are clean, modern, well located, and best of all, affordable. However, they are not without their pitfalls.

The following are some of the things that you should consider when choosing a hostel to stay in while visiting Sydney.

Location, Location, Location

It seems a good idea to stay in the central area,  close to all the attractions Sydney has to offer, but all too often, people are lured to hostels and dorms on the outskirts with the promise of unbelievable cheap rates and less crowded rooms.

However, what happens if you stay out past the last bus? The taxi fare back to your hostel could cost more money than two days at that more expensive hostel within walking distance. Unless, you are completely broke, do yourself a favour and only consider staying at a centrally located dorm or hostel.

Modern Amenities – What do You Mean, There’s No Wi-Fi?!

Location may be meaningless if the facility is old and out-of-date. When you make your booking, do a little research and make sure that your hostel or dorm is equipped for the electronic age. Beyond Wi-Fi, you should also ask about security surveillance. People are far less likely to bargain-shop in your backpack if they are on camera.

If you are renting a private room, you should ask about an electronic key. You also need to make sure that there is a safe available for use. The last thing you want to worry about is leaving your passport unattended while you enjoy a day of surfing or a night of partying.

Less Modern (But Still Important) Amenities

Let’s face it, you are backpacking so cheap eating is a must-do. Fast food and corner hot dogs may seem like a good idea but in reality, even the hardiest of constitutions need lean meat and veggies once in a while. Therefore, it makes an enormous amount of sense to make sure you have a kitchen in your accommodations. When making your reservations, ask about their facilities for cooking a meal here and there and if there is a fridge available for storage.

You also may want to check the bathroom/shower situation. Sharing a dorm room with a stranger is one thing, seeing him naked in the shower is another. Ensure there are plenty of private showers and toilets. Unless of course, public nudity is your thing (but that’s another blog post).

Speaking of clothes or in this case, lack of, you might want to see if the hostel has laundry facilities, especially free facilities. Anyone who has spent a long time backpacking can appreciate the luxury of having clean clothes without wasting important sightseeing time sitting in a laundromat.

Regardless of where you choose to stay, remember all in all, it is just a place to lay your head. You are on vacation and are visiting one of the most fascinating cities in the world. The best place to stay is one that is clean, comfortable, affordable and accessible to every good thing that Sydney has to offer.