Hostels are the go-to accommodation for budget-travelers. They are often cheap, friendly, safe, hospitable, and much more social than hotels, which makes them the perfect place to meet people from all over the world and get solid travel recommendations. Here are a few tips that will help you maximize your hostel experience:
During Your Hostel Stay:
1. ALWAYS HAVE A PAIR OF EARPLUGS AND A SLEEPING MASK. You never know whom you’ll be staying with, and unless you’re an incredibly heavy sleeper, it’s good to be prepared for the worst.
2. BRING A PADLOCK TO LOCKUP YOUR BELONGINGS, which is also to say, don’t leave your valuables out in the open or strewn across your bed. Make sure they’re either on your body or stored in a locker.
3. IF THE HOSTEL DOESN’T HAVE LOCKERS OR YOU DON’T THINK THEY’RE SECURE ENOUGH, LEAVE VALUABLES WITH THE HOSTEL STAFF. Hostel workers are generally more than willing to do this (for extra safe measure, you may want to ask them for an itemized receipt of everything that you give them).
4. DON’T LEAVE YOUR WALLET OR MONEY IN YOUR PANTS. I’ve heard horror stories about this. Don’t risk it. Keep your money in a safe place.
5. ALWAYS WEAR SANDALS IN THE SHOWERS AND THROUGHOUT THE HOSTEL. Hostels are riddled with foot fungi. Protect your feet—they’re a vital part of traveling.
6. BRING A TOWEL. Most hostels don’t include towels and will charge you if you need one.
7. BOOK IN ADVANCE. You don’t always have to do this, but in popular places I would highly recommend it.
8. READ REVIEWS BEFORE BOOKING YOUR HOSTEL. Websites like Hostelworld and Hostelbookers make this easy to do. However, don’t get too wrapped up in the reviews. Just read enough to give you a general idea—and to confirm that they don’t have bedbugs! I’ve stayed at bad reviewed hostels and had an amazing stay, and vice versa.
9. TRY TO BOOK HOSTELS CLOSE TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. This is tricky but important. Try to find hostels that are conveniently located, i.e., easy to get to from the arrival point and also near the city center.
10. FIND OUT IF THE HOSTEL ACCEPTS CASH ONLY, so that you can come prepared.
11. SAVE THE ADDRESS AFTER BOOKING THE HOSTEL. Also read the directions they offer. Don’t just rely on the image from the map or the pin you dropped on your phone’s map—this can save you from a giant headache.
12. BE FLEXIBLE AND UNDERSTAND THAT YOU’RE NOT STAYING AT A 5 STAR HOTEL. This can obviously vary from place to place, but generally speaking: realize you’ve chosen budget accommodation. Be happy with the bare minimum—after all that’s kind of what traveling is about, right? Don’t be that traveller and throw a temper tantrum over every little thing.
13. BE FRIENDLY AND MEET AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN. It’s very easy to meet other travelers at hostels because there’s often a lot of common ground and shared experiences. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to talk to a diverse group of fellow travelers.
14. IF YOU’RE NOT LOOKING FOR A PARTY, DON’T STAY AT A PARTY HOSTEL. Know that if you do stay at a party hostel it can be loud—and most likely will be— at any time of the day. You can almost always spot the party hostels from the reviews and their description.
15. BE CONSIDERATE! This tip should be applied to all aspects of life—staying in a hostel included. If you come back late, be quiet, don’t turn on the lights. And if you have to leave early in the morning, pack your things the night before, and in the morning leave as stealthily as possible. Also, if you’re using common area goods—the kitchen, the computer, etc.—don’t hog it and clean up after yourself. Basically, just be a good person and think about other people.