The dos and don’ts of hostel life

If you’re lucky enough to have just booked your very first backpacking adventure, then you’re most likely reading this because you’ve never stayed in a hostel before. Whatever your reason for choosing to stay in a hostel, you will have an amazing time meeting new people and experiencing a unique way of travelling.

However it’s always good to be clued up on the tips and tricks of hostel life. Every hostel experience is different but let’s start with the basics…

6 tips for staying in Hostels

1. DO get a combination padlock.

This is my first tip for a very good reason. I came backpacking without a padlock (my first mistake) and I realised very quickly that I needed one.

When I reached my second hostel, I decided to buy a key and padlock set from reception. That was my second mistake.

Within a few days, I had locked the keys inside my locker and had to get the hostel manager and a pair of bolt cutters to help me out.

That was the end of that padlock and mistake number three.

On my next stop, I ordered a combination padlock online for around $4 AUD and it has worked a treat for my entire trip so far. I use it in all the hostels I stay in, at the gym and occasionally on my backpack.

It’s great for peace of mind as I use it to secure my stuff away in the lockers or under-bed containers that are available in most hostel rooms.

And the best part of having one… No chance of locking myself out!

Buying one of these beauties has been one of the best things I’ve done and I would recommend any fellow travellers do the same.

2. DON’T leave your laundry in the hostel washer/dryer for too long.

I know it’s all too easy to forget about your laundry once it’s gone into the washer or dryer. I forget about it all the time at home and leave it sitting around for hours.

But hostels are not the place you want to be doing this.

Although it’s (thankfully) never happened to me, I have heard plenty of horror stories about laundry being stolen from unattended wash rooms.

And if you thought you were safe using the communal washing lines then think again…

I had the annoying experience of quite literally watching my washing dry at one hostel as there were rumours of people robbing clothes.

My tip is to use a dryer (if you can) and set a timer on your phone to remind you when it finishes so you don’t have to sit around guarding the machine.

Other than that, the next safest thing to do is to hang clothes up around your bed in your dorm but that can get irritating.

3. DO make use of hostel social areas, movie/game nights etc.

I met most of my friends and got talking to some really great people all through socialising in the common areas of hostels.

You’ll be surprised how many people will hang around in there pretty much all day and gather there in the evenings for nights out.

I also went along to movie nights that the hostels would put on sometimes. Not only are they really cosy but you can meet some fantastic new people (especially if you are on your own.)

4. DON’T leave your things all over the floor in your dorm.

If you’re staying in shared dorms, this is an important one.

No matter how relaxed you may feel or how much you think you can trust your new roomies, remember to be cautious in hostels.

Hostels are bustling places where people are constantly coming in and out and often security is not at an all time high.

Doors can be left unlocked, visitors could be walking in with friends and not everyone knows each other.

If you leave your things lying around, you probably won’t notice so much if something were to go missing until it’s too late.

Popular things that are taken include; phone charger cables, adapters, make-up, shower gel, shampoo etc.

Clothes can also be a valuable asset, especially if they are clean. And yes, I have been told that includes underwear! Gross, right?

5. DO always check the ‘free shelf/fridge’ in your hostel kitchen.

Simple (and bulky) cooking ingredients that people don’t think to buy like: cooking oil, butter, vinegar etc. are often always left on the free shelf or in the fridge.

It’s always worth a quick look in both to see if there is anything you need.

You’ll be surprised how many times checking up on the shelf can do you a favour! Just make sure you return it for others to use, it’s backpacker/hostel code.

6. DON’T let the negative points put you off staying in hostels!

After reading this post, most of you (who haven’t gone travelling yet or haven’t stayed in hostels) will probably think that they sound like the worst places ever.

But, trust me, they really aren’t.

Hostels are fantastic for travellers on a budget and I find that they are a great place to meet new people because they are so open and communal.

Often, there will be specific hostels that are talked about on the backpacker grape vine for either being fantastic or really bad. This gave me a good idea of where to stay at each location.

There are aspects of them that are not so nice (depending on where you stay) but I wouldn’t still stay in them if the bad overrode the good.

As a backpacker, I’ve found that there are tips, tricks and things to be wary of everywhere I go. Hostels are actually the least of my worries.

Except if there are bugs everywhere… If there are then I’m out of there.

Photo credit: Backpackers by Garry Knight, 2008. Source link here

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