There is a first time for everything. Your friend has recommended one of those dormitory room-type places and you are thinking it might be a good idea. Whether it is the way they are talking it up or that it is one of the only places available in your price range, you are considering staying in a hostel for your upcoming trip. You can’t possibly picture yourself sharing a room with total strangers and you are wondering if this is the right accommodation for you. Don’t give in so quickly! Let me break down some hostel etiquette dos and don’ts, then you can decide if hostel life is for you!
DO your research. Just like any other aspect of booking and planning a trip, make sure to dig deep into the place you will be staying. Some of the first things I look at before booking are the type of dorm rooms, luggage storage, and lounges. Every hostel is different but the room types can range from mixed dorms to female-only and male-only dorms. The room sizes can also vary. I have seen them anywhere from 4 to 16 beds in the same room. And lastly, some hostels have bathrooms in the rooms and some have communal bathrooms. I always check that a hostel has luggage storage before my stay because most of the time, I will arrive before check-in. So, I will drop my bag off and explore the city and then head back when I am done for the day. Same with check-out; if your mode of transportation doesn’t leave until later in the day or that night, you can leave your bag and pick it up before taking off to your next place. I also want the place I stay to have lounges or common areas. This is your best bet to meet new people!
DON’T be messy. This goes for your room, the bathroom, and even the kitchen if your hostel has one. In your room, make sure to keep your things tidy and all together. Most hostels have lockers to keep your items in. Regardless of the bathroom type, you will have to bring your toiletries with you and back out with you so others can do the same. Make sure to pick up your dirty clothes when your leave the bathroom. And try your best to be quick as there might be others needing to be in the bathroom. In the kitchen, after cooking, you need to clean up not only the dishes you created but wipe down any surfaces that were used. You do not want to be that person that everyone is mad at because they can’t pick up after themselves.
DO book what you are comfortable with. Looking back at what you are researching, it is important to know what you are looking for and what you couldn’t see yourself doing. For instance, I have only stayed in female-only dorms. But someone else might be perfectly fine staying in a mixed dorm. It is up to you and what your preferences are. Also, once you start staying at hostels more, you can see different amenities that you may want to make sure are at the next hostel you book. I know traveling is all about living outside your comfort zone and I agree. However, I feel that it would be harder to leave that zone if you aren’t at peace with the place you come back to once you are done exploring for the day.
DON’T (try not to) wake up too early or come in too late. Now, hear me out…. I know you’re probably thinking that it should be a perfectly practical rule to follow, but I must confess that I am guilty of both of these things. I am sure anyone who has stayed at hostels can tell you how annoying it is to not only be woken up at 2 am because your drunk roommate is coming in but it really starts getting under the skin when they have to leave at 5 am to catch their train and wake you up yet again. I’m sorry to say that that roommate was, in fact, me. I have learned a lot since that first time staying in a hostel and hope to bring some of that wisdom to you. Most hostels do have fun activities that go well into the night and I am not saying you should not do these activities, but when coming back into the room for the night, please be considerate of your sleeping roommates. Hopefully, some of them are just coming back to the room with you from a fun night out, but there is usually at least 1 that has gone to bed. Lay out your sleep clothes before going out for the night and anything else you might need so you will not be rummaging through your stuff when you get back. The same goes for early morning wake-ups. Also, try not to turn on the light when trying to move around the room during these times. I usually use my cell phone light so I can sort of see what I am doing. I know some travel days have you waking up at the crack of dawn, but just try your best to be quiet and prepare the night before so you can limit the amount of moving around in the morning.
DO the planned activities that the hostel has to offer. This is one of the things that first hooked me on staying in hostels. The place I was staying was having a movie night and a pub crawl that night. As much as of a toss-up it was, I did end up on the pub crawl and met a lot of fun people that night. This was after I met another woman in the bathroom and we complimented each other on our jackets and she said I should go on the pub crawl. Many hostels offer free walking tours of the city you are staying in. This is a great way to meet people that are staying in the hostel as well as take in the sights of the city. This is a great way to step out of your comfort zone, not only by doing the activity but also by opening up to new people and making lifelong friends.
DON’T be rude. I am going to sound like a broken record, but this also needs to go without saying. It’s like those warning labels that have that one out there warning like do not microwave your phone but it’s on there because someone out there has indeed microwaved their phone. Everything that I have covered so far can be tied into this. As long as you do your research on the place you are potentially going to stay at, you will know what to expect when you get there. I have heard and seen people bash a hostel because of their accommodations because they “weren’t what they were expecting”. If those people had researched the place, maybe they would have come and gone knowing they got what they paid for. Being messy and inconsiderate of others are rude behaviors that do not go over well in a hostel. Not me, but some people might even call you out. Also, I feel if you go into a place not feeling 100% comfortable, you’re on edge, which might make you more inclined to lash out or be snappy. And it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind when trying something new. You can plan and research till your brain hurts, but sometimes stuff happens that is out of our control. It is important in these times to remain calm and clear-headed to figure out your next move.
So…what do you think?! Have I sold you on the hostel life? I know it’s not for everyone, but I do think that everyone should at least try it once before they banish it from their lives for good. I know I was skeptical at first, but now I have stayed at 7 hostels and plan on staying at more in the future. Being a solo traveler, they are the perfect place to meet people. They are also affordable and a great place especially if all you really need is a place to sleep because you are out wandering the city the majority of the day. Hopefully, you make the right decision and reserve a bunk at a hostel for your next getaway!