Hostels are places where you can rent a bed, often a bunkbed, to spend a night, in dormitory style accommodations. You may have 3 others in your room or you may have 9 others in your room. These lodgings are very common outside of the United States and are beginning to gain some popularity here. They make traveling on a budget much more practical, and some have even become destinations themselves. But if you are staying in a hostel, especially if it is your first time, here are 5 things to keep in mind.
- Do Your Research – What part of town is this hostel in? Are the sleeping arrangements co-ed or single sex? Is this an independent hostel or is it part of a chain (and thus regulated for quality). Make sure you understand where you will be staying, or you could wind up in a very uncomfortable situation. Also, see what amenities are included; do you get Wi-Fi? Breakfast? When can you check in, and when do you need to be out? Remember, the things you take for granted at a hotel may not be available at a hostel (such as a towel or soap), so you have to choose wisely.
- Don’t Trust Your Roommates – It might seem obvious, but don’t leave your valuables around when you aren’t there. A common complaint about hostels is that they are not safe. Unfortunately, most of the issues you hear about come from someone leaving money, jewelry, passports, or tickets out in a room not well secured. If the hostel offers a safe, use it. If not, keep your valuables with you at all times. If you go to the shower, put them in a zip lock bag and bring them with you. If you go hiking, throw them in your backpack. It’s not to say these people are thieves (most are going to be great people), but why take the chance?
- Be Courteous – Courtesy will go a long way. This includes not showering for 30 minutes in the morning when everyone is waiting to take a shower, not turning on the light in the night to find something (use a phone or bring a pocket LED light), packing the night before an early morning trip (so you aren’t making a lot of noise in the early morning), and don’t try to bring someone back to your bed in the middle of the night (they will hear, and they will watch). Think about the things that would drive you crazy, and try not to do it to everyone else in your room.
- Bring Earplugs – As courteous as you might be, you may have a bunkmate who is less courteous. Or who snores loudly. Or who has other bodily noises you don’t want to hear in the middle of the night. Earplugs will help drown out all of the noises that would otherwise drive you crazy in the night.
- Stay Organized – If you are a generally sloppy person, that’s fine in your own home. But when you’re sharing a room with several other people, your mess becomes their problem. It also can make your items fair game and makes it easier to steal from you. Keep yourself organized to save your roommates from your mess and to save your mess from your roommates.
So get out there, do your research, and enjoy your vacation. If you do it right, staying in a hostel can be an enjoyable experience, and can also allow you to travel more often by cutting down the costs.