5 Things You Should Know Before Staying in a Hostel for the First Time
Written by Alexis Morales
Staying in a hostel may seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a budget-friendly way of traveling to multiple destinations without breaking the bank. Whether your traveling by yourself or with a group, here are a few tips to help you make the most of your experience. And who knows, you may meet a life-long friend or partner in the process!
1. Scout out the Amenities.
When you check into a hotel, you head to your room and it’s usually full of toiletries and there may even be a tea kettle or coffee maker in the kitchenette. But when you stay at a hostel, there may not be soap in the communal showers you’re sharing with strangers. Some may sell toiletries and shower shoes in the lobby or at the front desk but not all, so make sure to bring some with you or pick it up once you arrive. However, many hostels may host or provide information on events, local activities or group gatherings for you to join that could make all the difference in your experience. Definitely do your research on what’s available because you may be able to score free surf lessons or yoga classes.
2. Location is Everything.
Since hostels are usually a more affordable option, you may end up sacrificing some of the comfortability and convenience that comes along with a hotel. This is another reason why it is important to do your research on the hostel you choose. Take its location and walking distances into consideration before booking. While you may plan to just use navigation apps once you get there, it can be helpful to check recommended routes and transportation beforehand so you aren’t left shocked when a “short walk from the train station” actually means a mile hike up a steep hill.
3. Opportunity to Meet New Friends.
You never know who you’ll meet during a one-night stay in a hostel! It can be a great place to meet fellow travelers and new friends, solo travelers and groups alike from all over the world share rooms and convene in the hostel lobby, unlike hotels where people head right to their individual rooms. People who stay in hostels usually have a love for travel so right off the bat you know there will be shared interests. You may find yourself exchanging pleasantries with someone one minute and then making plans to meet up for drinks or explore the city together while you swap stories about hiking in Swizterland or riding a boat on the Mekong River in Vietnam! They may even serve as inspiration for your next trip.
4. The Unspoken Rules.
As easy as it can be to make new friends, you can also make enemies so when staying at a hostel and sharing a space with other people you may not know, make sure to employ good hostel etiquette. This means not staying up at all hours of the night disturbing your bunkmates on the phone or listening to loud music, not stumbling in at 3 am so wasted that you trip over everything and turn the room lights on to make your way onto the bed, and cleaning up after yourself. Have your fun, enjoy your space, but be considerate. A good rule of thumb is usually lights out at midnight, it’s not a curfew by any means but after this, try to make use of headphones, the bunk lights by your bed, your phone flashlight, or the open common spaces. Another thing to keep in mind is that everyone is on their own schedule. You may like setting your alarm early so you can hit snooze and “sleep in” but unlike family and close friends, your new roommates may not deal well with hearing your alarm going off 6 times before you actually wake up.
5. Always Pack Lightly.
When packing, stick to the necessities, aside from clothing and the toiletries mentioned earlier, you may also want to pack a towel/sheets if the hostel doesn’t provide them. Other useful things to consider would be a portable charger, earplugs and an eye mask if they help you sleep, locks to secure your belongings; the hostel may have lockers for you to use but an extra lock doesn’t hurt. A few good articles of clothing that you can mix and match for a couple of days will fit much better in your bag than 5 totally different outfits each with a different pair of shoes. Your hostel may offer washing machines and dryers for your use at a low cost as well.