Traveling on a budget is a challenge. We have to consider so many different things – flights, inter-city travel, and accommodation for example. Hostelling can greatly reduce your travel expense. Hostels are cheap and cheerful. They provide backpackers the opportunity to crash in comfort without breaking the bank. When stopping in a hostel, you have to adjust your behavior and way of thinking, however. Just look at our top hostel tips and you will understand!
The hostel environment is totally different from staying in a hotel or even a bed & breakfast. You must keep your wits about you and ponder your security, comfort, and well-being. If you want to give this budget backpacking lifestyle a try, we have provided some top hostel tips; these tips will make your stay a breeze and ensure your hostel experience is an epic one!
1. Bring several padlocks when hostelling
Hostels usually don’t have wardrobes or storage. What they do have are lockers. A dormitory will have one locker for each bed. This locker serves are your storage and safe deposit box. Sometimes a locker will have a secure latch. Other times it will not. Regardless, you MUST bring your own padlocks!
Take a couple of padlocks, and enjoy a peaceful sleep knowing your belongings are locked away. Even if your locker has a latch, still attach a padlock. This just gives an extra layer of safety. This is our top hostel tips as unfortunately, not everyone is trustworthy – some fellow travelers wouldn’t think twice about rummaging through your belongings. Moreover, consider using the second padlock to secure your suitcase or backpack.
2. Bring earplugs and an eye mask
Anyone who has slept in a hostel will understand this tip in an instant. Most hostels have shared dorms. These dorms have 4 or more bunk beds in – you could be sleeping with 10 other people! Can you see the issue yet? How many of those 10 people do you think will snore? Or make weird noises in their sleep? Sleeping in a hostel is often tiring, especially for light sleepers.
To combat this, earplugs and an eye mask are necessities. Bung a couple of earplugs in before you doze off to enjoy a peaceful and quiet nights sleep. Additionally, an eye mask can block out the sunlight, or that one annoying person who keeps their smartphone on all night.
3. Look for Hostels with an attached bar/restaurant
Many people frequent hostels when solo traveling. You will find dorms packed full of wandering souls who simply want to make friends and meet other travelers. Hostels often have a bar or restaurant attached. This common area is the life and soul of the hostel. It is a place where everyone comes together to share stories and make memories.
If you want to meet other travelers and make friends – choose a hostel with a bar or restaurant. At night, you can sit in the bar and strike up a conversation with other backpackers. You will find this is an awesome way to meet new people. Furthermore, if you lack confidence, it can help bring you out of your shell.
4. Always have your own toiletries & toilet bag
You will rarely find a hostel that provides toiletries. If you want hand-made shampoos and bath salts, we suggest finding a boutique hotel! At the most, a hostel bathroom may contain a bar of soap – but that is literally it!
To combat this lack of amenities, bring your own toiletries! Find a store that sells travel-sized shampoo etc. and fill a small toilet bag with the essentials. You can enjoy an invigorating shower, and even clean your teeth twice a day – what a novelty!
5. Bring some food supplies and a small set of kitchenware
Part of the hostel experience involves being independent. A hostel has a kitchen area and common room. You can use these facilities to make your own meals. If a hostel doesn’t provide breakfast, the kitchen is the place to be! You may even find a friendly traveler who will cook for their fellow guests!
To maintain a healthy diet and eat properly, bring your own food and cutlery. You don’t have to pack a whole pantry – just a few snacks and cereal. In terms of cutlery; a knife, fork, and spoon are perfect additions. Finally, a Tupperware container could be used to carry your items neatly.
6. Check in at the earliest possible time to get the first choice of bunks
In a dorm environment, the rule of “first come first served” applies. Each dorm has a limited number of bunk beds. You are generally not allocated a bunk bed. If you are one of the last to check in, you are literally left with the worst bunk beds. There is nothing worse than sleeping in that one disgusting bunk that everyone else avoided.
If you check in at the earliest possible time, you can avoid this situation. Let’s say that check-in starts at 14:00. Arrive at the hostel for 13:30 – hopefully the manager will let you check-in early. Picture the scene – a dormitory full of freshly prepared bunks ripe for the picking! You can choose whichever bed you desire and will certainly not be left with a poor choice.
7. Bring a spare sheet to create a make-shift privacy blind
Following on from the above point – bottom bunks are preferable. Yes, you will have someone sleeping above you – however, you will not have to keep climbing up and down. The only issue with a bottom bunk is the privacy. Literally, everyone will walk by you and know your business. Hostel environments can be full on – you will rarely get any peace.
To rectify this, create a make-shift privacy blind! Take an old bed sheet with you – preferably black or a dark color. Tuck this underneath the mattress above you and let it hang down. You now have a privacy sheet that can block out your fellow travelers. If you simply want an hour to yourself to relax, or maybe to blog, a privacy sheet is a must!
8. Purchase a pair of quality flip-flops
If you care about your foot health you will take this top hostel tip seriously! Unless you pay for a private room (defeats the object of staying in a hostel?), you will use a shared bathroom. Just think of the potential health hazards this could cause. Think about how many other people are walking barefoot on those bathroom tiles. Who knows what foot complaints they could have – Verrucas anyone?
To protect your feet, a pair of quality flip-flops is a must. Wear these flip-flops whenever you use the bathroom or toilet. Use them in the shower too. Dry them thoroughly after each use and keep them locked up. By wearing flip-flops, you will avoid contact with the potentially unsanitary washroom floor.
9. Read hostel reviews before booking!
Would you book a hotel without reading reviews first? Would you book a table at a restaurant without looking at what others have said about the food? Staying in a hostel is no different! Many travelers write hostel reviews. Moreover, if you look at hostel booking sites, you can see ratings and reviews about the accommodation.
Look at these reviews. What is the general consensus? What do the negative reviews say? Use hostel reviews to gain a non-biased understanding of what the place has to offer. Did people enjoy staying here? If a hostel has an overwhelming number of negative reviews, consider avoiding the place!
Hostelling doesn’t have to be difficult! Just take into consideration these top hostel tips and enjoy a memorable stay. If you are looking for a hostel, remember to check out websites such as hostelworld and hostelbookers – they have great offers and a wide selection of highly rated hostels. Finally, why not have a look at our list of top budget travel destinations to give you some traveling inspiration!