I’ve spent a lot of time in hostels this semester and let me tell you…I have learned some valuable information. I had never stayed in a hostel before I went to Sweden with my Core Course so I give this advice to those of you who are in my shoes. Hostels are still my favorite option when it comes to traveling on a budget (AirBnb has it’s perks but it can’t beat a $12 room in Budapest) and I say this after some really bad experiences.
1. Don’t be loud. This is an encompassing point and means a lot of things. You don’t want to be woken up at 5am because someone is having a normal volume conversation in Spanish, so don’t do it to someone else.
2. If you’re going to go out, please don’t turn the light on when you come back. Unless you have a private room, this is equally as rude as being loud. It is especially a problem for those of us sleeping on the top bunk. Use your flashlight app or fumble quietly in the dark, but avoid the overhead light. Often times, hostels could have individual lights for each bed. Get there and turn that on. Just make sure it isn’t pointing at someone’s face!
3. Don’t leave your stuff unlocked. I stayed in some sketchy hostels with 8 other people, someone of whom didn’t speak any english and the last thing I wanted was to come back after a day of exploring to find my valuables had been stolen. If your hostel doesn’t give you a lock, buy one. If they don’t have lockers, use TSA locks to lock your bag. (Hint: I always tried to get the bottom bunk so I could stick my bag under the bed if I didn’t have a locker. This way it isn’t sitting out in the open)
4. Don’t hog the outlets. We all have those electronics we can’t live without and when you’re traveling you want at least one thing with a camera on you at all times. Plug your stuff in overnight if nobody else is using it or plug it in while you’re getting ready in the morning just don’t leave it there all day. It’s better for your electronic device to not get overcharged and better for all the other people in the room so they can charge their stuff too.
5. Don’t leave your things everywhere. Confine your stuff to like a 2 foot radius around your bed. It is so much nicer to have floor space to walk on without having to worry about stepping on someone’s clothes or vice versa.
6. Try not to make a mess. Related to 5 in a way but I say this with experience. There was a time when someone I was with got sick all over the hostel room. A room we were sharing with 4 other people. I know sometimes this might be unavoidable, but do your best to get your sick self to the bathroom so you don’t have a foreign woman yelling at you in a language you can’t understand. It’s terrifying
7. Don’t hog the bathroom/shower. Sometimes you’ll share a bathroom with everyone in your room. Sometimes…everyone in your hostel will be vying for the same two showers. So be courteous and don’t take forever. Quick showers are better for the environment and chances are there will be another mirror for you to do your hair/makeup. If your that concerned, pack a travel mirror! That’s what I do!
8. If you have to set an alarm, don’t let it go off longer then it needs to. You’re going to be in a room with other people 99% of the time and even if you know the person, it’s still pretty rude.
9. In some hostels, there will only be wifi in the lobby (which basically sucks, don’t stay here. I’m looking at you StayOkay in Amsterdam). If that’s the case and you need to be on it, don’t be annoying. I use this word specifically to encompass every annoying habit someone could have. One time, the lobby was full of middle school aged kids, who had no business yelling so loud.
10. Don’t expect to be in the nicest area. Unless you’re paying an arm and a leg, you will most likely have a relatively poor location. In small cities, like Prague, it’s hard to be in a bad place but in larger cities make sure you weigh the cost of transportation to the city center before you book. It’s not worth spending all your budget and time on the train coming into the center.
11. Probably the most important one of all: Don’t forget to bring your shower shoes!!!! I have seen some pretty gross showers in my days and let me just take this opportunity to thank Ana for letting me borrow them when I was without. Basically…she’s a life saver.
So take note, be a good hostel goer and you’ll be in for a great time. Maybe you’ll even meet some new friends along the way. Hostel people always seem to be so interesting. Where else do you randomly meet a 21 year old Canadian teaching English in France, traveling to Vienna by herself? Maybe not just the hostel…but that’s a good starting point. Plus said hostel in Vienna has a book wall in the shape of a snail (Believe it or not hostel-do visit!)