If you’ve ever thought about staying at a hostel, then you probably already know that they are a very inexpensive way to travel. Hotels can blow your whole travel budget, while a hostel offers you the opportunity to meet a lot of new people during your travels at a rate you can afford.
While hostels can offer cheap accommodations, they are not like a hotel and will require you to do some advanced planning for your stay there. If you’ve never been to a hostel before here are some insider secrets that can make your stay much more enjoyable.
Not one to stay in hostels? No worries. You can still find stellar rates from select hotels if you scour the net a little and make use of coupon discounts and promotions available from top hotel booking sites like Booking.com, Hotels.com, Priceline and CheapOair.
A benefit or maybe a drawback, depending on what type of person you are, is that each room in a hostel is shared with multiple people. From four to twenty-four or more people will be sleeping in bunk beds in a common room. This will definitely give you to opportunity to know your neighbor and their sleeping habits.
You can request that you are either in a coed or single sex room at your preference. All female rooms may be a wise choice if you are a woman that is traveling alone, while co-ed rooms will introduce you to an eclectic bunch of travelers from all over the world.
Comfort is of the essence when you are traveling based on the amount of walking you do during sightseeing. You will certainly want a comfortable place to come home to at the end of your day of travels. Securing a bottom bunk will be a lot easier to get in and out of when you are tired and especially if you had a few drinks before bed.
Unlike a hotel, hostels don’t have a maid that will change your sheets and make your bed each day. Some hostels offer sheets. Some do not. You can check with them before you arrive to be sure, but a safe bet is to just bring your own. Plus, this way you’ll know that they are clean.
If your hostel does offer sheets, they might offer them at a charge. Know upfront what that charge is, if you intend to use theirs. This should only be a few dollars, euros or pounds.
Just like with your sheets, most hostels will not have towels for you as well as soap and shampoo (though it doesn't hurt to try and ask!). You will need to plan ahead and pack your own. Be smart and think about how much space your towel is going to take up. A big, fluffy one is probably not the smartest choice. Think thin and adsorbent.
If its offered you may want to purchase a towel from the hostel so when you are through with it you can throw it away, leaving more room for souvenirs from your trip. Like a towel, you don’t want to be caught without shower shoes so grab flip flops to protect your feet from anything growing in the bathroom. Because you will be using a shared shower with most everyone that is staying there, it may not be the cleanest at all times so it’s a good idea to protect your feet from touching the ground when you shower.
Don't let this scare you though! Most hostels keep clean every day but you'll have to pay close attention to hostel ratings online to sort out the ones that keep their hygiene standard high and those that skimp.
When you are sharing a room in a hostel, you are trusting your roommates with your things, which may work out fine. To be on the cautious side you should bring a lock with you to lock up your valuables. Most hostels offer lockers where you can store your belongings when you are not there, keeping them safe.
Invest in a good padlock that will provide a good amount of protection on a locker. While you can’t stop someone from getting into your things if they really want to, it’s always a good idea to deter them as much as you can. A side note, if you need to wander the city on the day of check out, most hostel will provide a luggage holding room for all to use while you roam around to kill time before your flight/bus/train departs. Remember to use a lock on your luggage too as most holding rooms are accessible to all those who use it during your stay.
Remember you are sharing a room with a lot of people, there will most definitely be a snorer or two (a few of us here can confirm that struggle). Bring earplugs to drown out the noise from snoring or any other times during the night you might be kept up by your roommates.
Also, keep in mind that people will be coming and going at all times of the day and night, so when you choose to rest it might not be perfectly quiet. Earplugs are a good remedy to help you get some much-needed sleep and it will also prevent you from getting annoyed with your bunkmates if they tend to be loud.
You are without a doubt worried about your safety when staying at a hostel, but rest assured most hostels are warm and inviting places. The security level at each hostel can differ from very secure to minimal security. Some hostels will require a code for entry and others will have guards on duty. Some may only have the front desk clerk watching who comes and goes. Check with your hostel on what they security measures are before you book.
No hostel should allow anyone that isn’t a guest to stay in the rooms overnight or any time of the day. If something seems suspicious, say something and get help. Don’t put yourself in a situation that you will regret later.
The most important part of staying at a hostel and one of its advantages is all the great people you will meet while staying there. Most guests will be friendly and outgoing and of course have traveling in common with you.
Don’t be shy. Get to know as many of your roommates as you can. You will make lifelong friends with some of them and who knows, you may meet up with them again on one of your adventures.
Where is your next big adventure?