Proper hostel etiquette what to expect before your first hostel experience
After staying in hostels across 4 continents . One thing I know to be black and white... You will make unforgettable memories staying in one.
Whether it's good or bad. It will be a learning experience. No doubt.
This could not be more true about my own experience living and working in Australia. Where I actually lived in a hostel for over 6 months.
You can imagine, I've seen it all.
Hostels are a great travel budget option, but they’re no luxury vacation.
However, when budget backpacking, or traveling solo. It's the most realistic option, and also the best. Here's why...
If there is one single thing that prevails about hostels, it’s the fact that it is without a doubt the easiest way to meet people whether you’re on your own. Or just wanting to find new friends.
Join like-minded folk from all around the world, share your stories, it's an eye opening experience. I can promise you that. You may be inspired to travel or experience somewhere you never thought to before.
Where to start?
Find yourself a hostel with good reviews.
What you can expect from a hostel
First off, this depends greatly on where you are in the world and the time of year you're traveling (high or low season) If you’re in a big city and it’s a popular destination amongst backpackers expect a to experience some late-night party goers chanting in the hallways.
Your hostel should ALWAYS be a very friendly environment. A place where travellers connect. A hostel should never make you feel like your business is not valued just because you're a backpacker.
What a “good” hostel means...
The staff at the hostel should always be welcoming, and informative about all aspects of the city you’re in. Share info to the best ways to get around, or to your next destination.
Your room should be clean. Your bed is your space. Completely off limited to anyone else.
Many hostels offer free breakfast and free wifi, this should be something you look out for in the amenities section online before you book.
Tip: If your top choices for hostels aren’t available on third-party sites (Hostel World) try booking through the accommodation website directly. Sometimes you can find rooms or discounted rates directly from the hostels main website.
A kitchen available for use is handy. This is always important to look out for. This is important if you’re traveling on a budget (especially traveling somewhere like Australia) expect to pay $$$ every time you dine. You won't typically find hostels in South East Asia that have kitchens, which is fine. Food is cheap anyway.
Towels for hire. A hostel that offers a towel for free or at a $5.00 deposit you get back once the towel is returned, is a nice touch.
Tip: In my personal experience I find female only dorms to be cleaner (sorry lads) If you feel more comfortable living in a female only space. Choose this options. However I will say, I find the female only dorms to be a bit less social.
Where is the best place to find hostels?
Pay attention to the sub-ratings for each category (location, security, etc.) so you can look for those things that matter most for you. Perks like the ones mentioned above, free breakfast and wifi, are usually mentioned in the hostel descriptions. Keep an eye out for those little extras.
Look out for other travellers reviews.
They know first hand what the experience of staying there was like. If you want a quite night in Barcelona, it’s probably not the best idea to stay at the party hostel with 5-star reviews, suggesting it’s the best night out in Barcelona you’ll ever have.
Is staying in a hostel safe?
Short answer is yes. I’ve never stayed at a hostel yet, where I didn’t feel safe.
Haver your wits about you, always lock up your valuables. Store them somewhere safe. I had a few items go missing before.. What do you do at that point? 6 girls, one dorm? Cut your loses and move on.
How you will be a fantastic dorm mate
These are common curtesy tips you expect every person sleeping next to you practices... I would think most of these are just plain old common sense. But, you’d be surprised. Dickhead travellers do exist!
• Make friends... Be social!
• Ask hostel staff for advice whenever you're in question.
• Write reviews about your hostel experience.
• Research before booking, do you want a party or quiet hostel?
• Carry your phone torch (flashlight) if you go out at night. Don't flick on the lights late at night when you enter the dorm room.
• Buy earplugs... people snore and streets can be noisy
• Share your travel stories!
• Do leave the romance at the dorm door.
• Clean up after yourself... especially if you use the kitchen (your mom isn't here to take care of you)
• Hog communal power points.
• Take calls in dorm rooms. No one needs to hear your convo with Sally.
• Rustle around in your stuff, if you're going to come back late (have your clothes, and toiletries ready beforehand)
• No farting in dorm ... seriously!
• Don't to be a slob, and leave your bag exploded across the floor.
• Respect peoples climate preferences, if it's freezing outside. Don't leave the window open!
If you would like more tips on traveling solo and how you can make the most of your trip. Peep my post here on The Ultimate Tips for Traveling Solo.