1) Keep an open mind.
It’s a hostel, not a hotel, and one letter can make that much of a difference. You get what you pay for. There’s no private room, no ice machine, nor is there room service. It’s pretty much living in a dormitory. (It’s college all over again!!) Some people swear by hostels, some people hate them. I would recommend trying it out at least once. If you’re not exactly won over but still want to use some of the cheaper resources, test out Airbnb.
2) Don’t be afraid to mingle. Make those friends!!
If you’re staying at a hostel, and especially if you are traveling alone, you’re going to have to meet people. Let that be your roommates, the nice guy behind the check-in desk, or that couple from Peru. There’s never a shortage of interesting people to talk to at hostels. Everyone has at least one story, but backpackers have many. In fact, I think meeting so many wonderful, and usually very strange, people is what makes staying in a hostel so amazing.
3) Always have a lock and key, shower shoes (flip flops), a spare pair of earplugs, and a towel.
If you like to pack for everything like me, no matter how light I do pack, it’s always too heavy to carry for a long period of time. Invest in a standard lock and key (I got mine at Target), as hostels usually provide lockers. It’s a nice way to lock up valuables you’d rather not leave in your room. Something as small as a lock is worth your peace of mind.
The last think you want to do is take a shower in your sandals. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do not to touch that shower floor.
Earplugs = defense against loud and obnoxious (and drunk) roommates. At one hostel, there was some guy who ran up and down wooden stairs at 7 am in flip flops. Every day. And don’t forget that some people snore. And sleep talk. Enough said.
Hostels usually have spare towels, but at a price. I got these microfiber towels before I went to Canada and they were a lifesaver. It takes some getting used to – it’s not fluffy, but they are incredibly absorbent and take up practically no space. Roll it up and stash it in the bottom of your bag. They dry faster than regular cotton towels too, so I never had to worry about damp clothes.
4) Don’t be that person . . .
Don’t be that person who leaves the bathroom trashed.
Don’t be that person who doesn’t respect their roommate’s belongings and space.
Don’t be that person who doesn’t wear pants around people they just met. Or sleep naked. Just don’t, please.
Don’t be that person who stumbles in loudly at 4 am and then complains about the noise for a 9 am check out.
Wouldn’t have to say it unless I’d seen it . . .
5) Be safe.
This may be either in the hostel itself or with the people you meet. When it comes down to it, you don’t know these people or the area. If anything raises red flags, don’t think twice and get out of there. Who cares what other people think? If something makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to do it.
6) Make your bed before you go out drinking.
You are not going to make it at 3 in the morning after all of those tequila shots you downed at the bar. Just trust me.
7) Take the bottom bunk.
Gone are the days of fighting over the top bunk. Again, when you come back at sunrise, the last thing you want to do is climb a steel ladder into bed. But sometimes you don’t get to pick. I stayed at a hostel in Toronto once and all they had left were top bunks. If that’s what you have available, sleep with your backpack in your bed with you for easy access and extra security.
8) Ask the desk for tips around town if you’re unsure of what to do.
Now, this might be a hit or miss. Usually the person behind the desk is staying with the hostel for a certain amount of time, so hopefully they might be used to how things work around there, good places to eat, or the perfect bars for happy hour.
Have you ever stayed in a hostel?