Over the last couple of years I have stayed in a bunch of different hostels. In fact, I don’t actually remember the last time that I travelled and did not stay in a hostel.
Hostels have become such a normal thing that I often forget that there were some things that I wish I would have known when I first started staying in hostels. So here is a little list of 10 best tips for staying in a hostel that you should know about.
- 1 Pack correctly
- 2 Use Packing cubes
- 3 Always bring a Padlock
- 4 Bring a sleeping mask
- 5 Choose a Hostel based on your Preferences
- 6 Bring an extra Jacket/ Blanket
- 7 Join Activities to Meet People
- 8 Read Reviews from Other Travellers
- 9 Always Check Reception Hours and Directions
- 10 Hostel Staff can give you Great Tips
- 11 Speak English in the Hostel Dorm
You don’t know how much space you will have in the hostel dorm and also you do not want to unpack your backpack every single time you are looking for one little thing. Figure out what you need most often and put it on top of your backpack so you can easily reach it.
I always put my toiletry bag on top as I usually want to grab my toothbrush and face wash when I get to a new destination. In that way I don’t have to unpack my whole backpack the second I get there. I also always have a towel on top of my backpack.
Make sure to put the things you don’t need as often on the bottom of your backpack. Like special hiking gear or a jumper or whatever that might be for you.
Use Packing cubes
Packing cubes allow you to put all your clothing items together in separate cubes which is super helpful. I always have three packing cubes when travelling. One for pants, one for shirts and then one for underwear, socks and bathing suits.
Especially in a hostel you don’t have much space to lay out your clothes.
And do you really want a bunch of strangers seeing all your clothing items? Probably not.
Packing cubes don’t only help you to stay organised but they save space, make it easier for you to find your clothes and you will have all your clean clothes in one place.
Dirty clothes I usually just chuck in a plastic bag in my backpack until I have enough stuff to do laundry.
Always bring a Padlock
You will always need a padlock so that you are able to lock the security lockers. Some places might have different lockers which already have a key included but generally that is not the case.
Most hostels include lockers but just to be sure make sure to check the hostel facilities and descriptions beforehand. If there are no lockers available, the lock will still come in handy as you will be able to just lock your suitcase or backpack.
Especially while traveling long-distance on public transportation it feels safer to be able to lock your luggage.
Bring a sleeping mask
If you have troubles sleeping with the light on, then maybe consider bringing a sleeping mask. Just know that sometimes people will turn the light on and off in the middle of the night.
Also, if you sleep really lightly you might want to bring ear plugs as well. Some people don’t have any decency and just have loud conversations in the middle of the night in the middle of the room.
But you could probably have an orchestra play right next to my bed and I would still sleep through the night so I thankfully am not too bothered by things like that.
Choose a Hostel based on your Preferences
There are a lot of people that think that hostels are only for young people and that is definitely not true. While there are some hostels that are age restricted there are also hostels that cater for all age groups. Of course, you need to know if you really want to share a dorm room with a bunch of people when you are older.
Anyway, there are so many different hostels, you just need to know what type of hostel life you are after. There are bigger hostels that are also open to families and groups and kind of have more of a hotel feeling.
Here are all my tips and tricks on how to choose the perfect hostel.
Also, I always use Hostelworld when booking my hostels. They have a huge selection of hostels and it is super easy to filter hostels based on your preferences! I never actually use any other site as I always manage to find the perfect Hostel with Hostelworld.
Bring an extra Jacket/ Blanket
This might sound weird. But even when I travel to a warm destination such as Thailand I always bring one sweater for not only the bus rides and planes but also for the hostel rooms.
Some places just turn the air condition in the room up to the point where you are just absolutely freezing. I have gotten sick so often and even some ear infections just because the rooms where ice cold.
In Australia I even ended up buying another blanket because I was already using all my towels as blankets and that was not helping.
Join Activities to Meet People
The best thing about hostels and my main reason why I always stay in a hostel (other than the budget aspect) is that you can meet so many amazing people.
Lots of hostels offer great activities that allow you to easily meet other fellow travellers such as BBQ nights, communal dinners, pub crawls, beer tastings or boat tours.
If the hostel has activities, then make sure to join them. As that is one of the best parts of Hostel life and one of the best ways to make friends when travelling solo as well.
Read Reviews from Other Travellers
Talking about activities that some hostels offer, you can either find out about them in the hostel descriptions or just by reading reviews from other travellers on Hostelworld.
But in general, reviews can give you a good idea of the overall hostel vibe. In that way you can kind of get an idea of what type of people are staying in the hostel and if that fits with your preferences.
Always Check Reception Hours and Directions
In smaller places and in smaller hostels you will not find 24 hours receptions. In some places you can even only check in until only around 6pm. Of course, travelling often takes longer and you might not make it in time.
Just contact your hostel beforehand and tell them about your arrival times, in that way they will tell you how you will be able to check in or someone will meet you later to check you in. I have never had any problem with that. But. You just need to know about limited reception times beforehand so you don’t stand in front of closed hostel rooms.
So always make sure to check reception hours especially if you know you will be arriving late. If you know you will be arriving at night, check if it is possible to check in at night as well.
And secondly, always check directions to the hostel.
Hostels are not always in the city centre, it can be a hassle to get there at time.
Hostel Staff can give you Great Tips
Often, people working in hostels are backpackers themselves and know how it is like to travel on a budget. Therefore, if you ask them for advice, they will often be able to give you great tips about where to go, what to eat in the area or what area to avoid.
It is best of course if the staff are locals or have been in the city for a long time and know the area well. Anyway, if you want to know any local tips, the easiest way is always asking the reception staff first.
Speak English in the Hostel Dorm
Now this is probably my 11th point and I was planning on limiting this post to just 10 tips for staying in a Hostel.
But. Anyway, this to me is more of an obvious fact rather than a tip. If you are a native English speaker than this point probably doesn’t concern you as much it seems like the majority of English speakers that I meet when travelling only speak one language anyway. (Really sad).
There is honestly nothing I hate more than when people only speak their own language when there are people around that don’t understand that language. That’s just rude. Like if you are just by yourselves or just exchanging a few sentences, speak whatever language you want. But if you keep talking in your own language and there is one person that does not understand that language it is pretty rude and that person definitely does not want to be your friend.
Of course there are exceptions, like if you travel in South America I don’t expect everyone that stays in Hostels to speak English as long as they speak Spanish. But in general, you should always speak English in the dorms so that nobody feels excluded.
Want to learn a new language? Italki is a great way to speak with native speakers!
And here were my 10 best tips for staying in a hostel. Some of these I did not know when I first started travelling so I thought they might be helpful for you. I definitely did not know how to pack correctly and also packing cubes only became an addition to my backpack a couple of years ago. Anyway, what is your best hostel tips? Let me know in the comments.
Talk to you later x
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