So you want to indulge in a little low-cost travel, but you are worried about staying safe in budget hostels. Contrary to the image that ‘Hostel’ film puts across, most are safe. In fact, the worst experience I have ever had was a female roommate describing the film “Argo” for an hour while I was trying to sleep. In order to benefit from the lovely safeness that has helped me save my bank account from near death while traveling, try these tips for staying safe in budget hostels.
Table of contents:
- 1. Get into a Female Dorm
- 2. Book through a Reputable Company
- 3. Use Connections Wisely
- 4. Use Padlocks
- 5. Be Bug Aware
- 6. Try to Steer Clear of Dorms if You Can
- 7. Know Your Local Area
1 Get into a Female Dorm
Really, the majority of men aren’t going to do a thing to you. However, suggesting that you don’t exercise prudence here would be entirely irresponsible of me! Staying safe in budget hostels does require you to pick your room carefully. I have never stayed in a mixed dorm, not will I ever do so. In general, you and your roommates are also more likely to bear each other’s habits better if you come from the same gender.
2 Book through a Reputable Company
There is the Youth Hostel Association, Hostel World, and Hostels.com. When you book through these channels, you know the hostel is verified by some sort of external agency. Using these companies also lets you filter your prospective hostel effortlessly. You can choose one according to dorm type, location, and whether you will share a bathroom. Most take a 10% deposit, after which you will pay the remainder upon arrival.
3 Use Connections Wisely
After visiting Ghana, I soon realized that booking a hostel outside of Accra is near impossible. At least by conventional western methods. My advice to anybody in a similar situation would be to stay a night in your chosen country’s capital and find a hostel through the desk at the hotel you stay at there. Trust me, if you do not do this, you run the risk of wandering into the great unknown without being able to tell the difference between a hostel and a regular house. You can also try talking to others who have visited the country.
4 Use Padlocks
The really nice lady you are sharing a room with won’t seem so nice when she backpacks her way down the road with your camera in her pocket. Most hostels provide lockers. You will need to buy a padlock there or take one with you. Unless you can carry your stuff about, I highly recommend doing this. Also, try carrying your more expensive belongings about with you. Just in case.
5 Be Bug Aware
Your safety isn’t just about keeping your belongings safe! Depending on where you are going, you may be at risk of developing a couple of nasty diseases. This is especially true of tropical countries with mosquitoes. While you can prevent malaria with prophylaxis, there are conditions like dengue that just creep up inconveniently. Shell out for a mosquito net before you leave. Aside from preventing diseases, you will also be making sure your legs are more skin than bug. Take it from someone whose done it the other way around, this is quite the blessing when you go to certain places!
6 Try to Steer Clear of Dorms if You Can
When you go to countries like Thailand and see how dirt cheap private rooms are, take them. You can save a couple of dollars a night by staying in a dorm. Realistically, this translates to a drink’s worth of savings, so skimp on one beer and get yourself some privacy. You can meet some fantastic people when traveling and these people will generally outweigh the nasties overall. However, having some privacy for yourself and your belongings can reduce incidents of theft. You also won’t annoy anyone when you snore.
7 Know Your Local Area
If you see a hostel that is super cheap but amazing, please please investigate the local area. For example, when I was searching for a hostel in Rio, I found one situated at the back of a Favela. Similarly, I’ve seen some pretty budget places in some of Paris’ more colorful areas. Try to avoid these places if you can. Criminals prey on tourists, which means you could make yourself a walking target.
Now that I am done doom mongering, here’s a little positivity! Hostels are amazing. You will meet happy people who are willing to share and be friendly. If you have some hostel experience or recommendations, please feel free to share it here so other travelers can benefit!
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