It’s not unusual t be looking for tips for staying in a hostel if you have only ever stayed in hotels or resorts (or even been camping) previously. You might be looking at staying in a hostel as a way to afford a vacation but don’t know if the experience is right for you or not. That’s completely understandable. A hostel is very different to a hotel in that you are much more responsible for making your travel plans and hostels also do not have the same “organized” aspect of hotels. Take a read through these tips for staying in a hostel and you can decide if a brilliant new travel experience awaits you.
1. Single-sex or Co-ed Dorm
One of the first tips for staying in a hostel is to choose the dorm which suits your needs. Depending on your preference, you might either choose to stay in a co-ed dorm or a single-sex dorm. For those solo female travelers, a female-only room might be more up your alley, as it’s often quieter, cleaner and will provide you peace of mind so that you feel safe and comfortable. On the other hand, if you’re more of a partier, co-ed dorms usually can and will fill those requirements. Often, if all those in the room are in favor (and even if they’re not), a co-ed dorm can be loud and crazy late into the night. This will help you make friends with boys and girls from all over the world.
2. Check out upon Check-in
Check out your surroundings upon check-in. Get to know the hostel and see what’s all available to you. Take in the common area (perhaps there’s a computer bank for you to use or a bookshare, if you need to exchange); visit the kitchen, cafe or bar; check out the bathrooms, even, just to know where everything is. Get you bearings. Perhaps you don’t wanna be that annoying guest who’s always bothering the front desk; however, if they aren’t too busy at check-in, it doesn’t hurt to avail yourself of their knowledge so that you can get to know the place better and feel more at home in your environment.
3. Bottom Bunk is Better
Though bunk selection may not be up to you, if you do get a choice, always choose the bottom. The bottom bunk has a much more private feel, and you can put your bag right alongside your bed to keep it safe. They’re also easier to make and climb in and out of without bothering your bunkmate...if you care about being considerate of others. Too, if you plan on having a beer or two, you’re probably not too keen to hoist yourself to the top.
4. Silence the Noise with Earplugs
Whether or not you’re in a party dorm, earplugs will be your best friend when it comes to getting a good night’s rest. There is always a snorer. Never fails. So earplugs are the foolproof method to drown out the sleep noise of all your sleeping companions; the party noise, if you’ve landed yourself in a party room, and you’re not in the mood; as well as the street noise, which can sometimes be a problem for some hostels.
5. Bring the Spare Parts
Take along essentials, like soap, shampoo and towels, because toiletries are not often offered. Showers and bathroom facilities are obviously shared, so flip-flops are essential. Also, you might want to consider buying or sewing yourself a sleep sheet. Essentially, a sleep sheet is two single sheets sewn together into a sack with one side open. You might simply use a double sheet, folded over, with the bottom sewn. Though bed linens are likely provided by the hostel, having a simple one of your own, just in case, is a smart way to go.
6. Sleep in Layers
This is one of the tips for staying in a hostel to which every seasoned hostel-traveler can attest. The room temp is almost never perfect and almost always fluctuates throughout the night. If you dress only in sweats because it’s freezing when you go to bed, you might wake up hours later, sweating like a madman. Think of the heat generated by all those bodies in a tight cramped room. It also never fails that someone will mitigate the sauna by throwing the window open, which will eventually freeze you out. Dressing in layers will allow you to adjust so that you can be comfortable throughout the night.
7. Break Outta Your Shell
People who stay at hostels tend to be more open and willing to make friends. If you’re naturally an introvert, break outta your shell – approach someone and introduce yourself; ask them what they’re reading, ask them where they’re traveling, ask them about their life. A hostel is not the place to stay in your comfort zone, so don’t be shy. You might make a lifelong friend and travel companion to boot!
These tips for staying in a hostel are general enough to apply to most hostels around the world. If you’ve experience of staying in hostels, I’d love to hear your indispensable tips.