Whether you’re on a gap year or going on a trip with friends, staying at a hostel is a great way to meet new people, and a cost-effective way to travel. We’ve all probably heard or read a hostel horror story at some point, but these tips will (hopefully) help you successfully survive and make the most of your next stay.
Do Your Homework & Be Prepared
Depending on the destination you’re headed to, you could be spoiled for choice when it comes to hostels. Before you book your accommodation, be sure to do your research, and have a rough idea of what you’re looking for. Do you have a full itinerary planned and need a quiet place to rest and recharge? Or are you looking for a hostel with a fun social scene? Is the hostel located close to your intended sightseeing locations? What kind of amenities do they offer? Look up reviews left by other travellers so you have an idea of what to expect, and it’ll help minimize any unexpected (or unpleasant!) surprises on your day of arrival.
You should also always come prepared. Keep in mind that you’ll probably be out exploring for the majority of the day. Do you have valuable items you’ll want to store in your room? If so, bringing a padlock for your bag or locker may be a good idea. If you’re a light sleeper, having an extra set of earplugs or a sleep mask would be beneficial.
Be Courteous to Your Dorm Mates
Living in a shared space with strangers can be fun but stressful at times, and the key to maintaining peace and harmony in your dorm room is to be courteous and considerate to one another. If you have an early morning flight to catch, pack your bags the night before, and it’ll save you stumbling around in the wee hours trying to locate the left shoe you kicked somewhere under the bed. Likewise, nothing puts a tired backpacker in an irritable mood faster than the crumple and crinkle of plastic bags when they are trying to sleep, or being kept up by a loud and detailed summary of your day when the lights are out. Always remember to treat others with the same respect you’d like to be shown.
Remember You’re Not at Home
You know that tendency of yours to leave piles of clothes on your bedroom floor? The organized mess, of which you know exactly where everything is? Well, choosing a hostel dorm room, as opposed to private accommodation, means that you are a cohabitant at someone else’s property, and things such as picking up after yourselves, and not leaving any dirty dishes behind should be a no-brainer (but a timely reminder that may be occasionally needed). Always remember that hostel staff are there to ensure that the place is run smoothly, and babysitting independent, grown adult travellers is not usually in their job scope. Keep your items confined to your designated space, whether on your bed or in a locker if you have one, and not scattered all over the place – this not only prevents potential injuries to unsuspecting dorm mates, but also helps avoid any damage or loss of your own personal items.
Say Hello & Have Fun!
One of the best things about staying at a hostel is the people you’ll encounter, the curious travellers from all over the globe who are also there to explore and discover somewhere new.
So, take advantage of the situation. Say the first “Hello.” Offer to share your snacks as an icebreaker. Ask questions – learn where they are from, and what brought them to that particular destination. Some hostels organize activities such as game and movie nights, bar crawls or tours for their guests, so be sure to check with the staff or take a quick glance through common-area notice boards for anything fun that may be happening.
You never know who you’ll meet next, and chances are, you’ll be inspired by the tales you’ll hear, and hopefully leave the hostel with good memories and stories, and perhaps even lifelong-friends.