I am back again with a tips and tricks post this time on staying in your first Hostel! If you follow me on Instagram or read my previous blog post you will know that I have just returned from three weeks interrailing Europe! The biggest hurdle (in my opinion anyway) during this trip was adjusting to life in a Hostel.
I think I exhausted almost every blog post, youtube video and website searching to find what to expect, Hostel etiquette and what I will need to pack. So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to impart some of my knowledge to hopefully settle some of your nerves.
Now I don’t know about you but when researching these things I like to know the brutal truth of what it is like. I don’t want to hear a lovely fluffy version of what it’s supposedly like (if that is what you’re looking for I’m afraid this isn’t the post for you). I hate nothing more than feeling unprepared so let’s start with my top five tips for those staying in a hostel for the first time!
Hostels aren’t as sociable as is made out
When doing my research and especially watching vlogs on Youtube hostels are made out to be great places to meet new people from all around the world (at the end of the day you are sharing a room with them!) and I’m sure they are if you are extremely outgoing! From my experience (and I stayed in a total of seven hostels across Europe) as everyone’s travelling by the evening all people want to do is get on with cooking their dinner and heading to bed. I think the most interaction we had with anyone was whilst cooking in the kitchen so if you are looking to spike up a conversation with someone I’d say this is the place to do it! If you are someone who isn’t as interested in the social side of backpacking then don’t let this put you off staying in a hostel many people like to keep themselves to themselves and people seem to respect that.
Decide on criteria important to you before booking
When searching for your perfect hostel it’s important to have a list of criteria that is important to you. Hostels may have great reviews but that doesn’t mean that it’ll be a great fit for YOU. There are so many hostels to choose from all offering different things. Are you looking for a party hostel, a hostel with great privacy or a hostel that allows you to come back as late in the evening as you like? These are all things that need to be considered before booking.
For example, when booking hostels the things most important to me were: free WIFI, close and easy to reach on public transport, curtains or at least some privacy whilst in bed and lockable storage.
Check for any hidden costs
From experience, hostels seem to be quite good for having no hidden fees however it’s always a good idea to double-check before committing to a hostel. Hostels may add the cost of city tax, breakfast, towel hire, lock hire … and the list goes on. All of this should be listed on the hostels booking site.
Take chunky locks with you
I made the mistake of taking two small and thin locks with me which (on both occasions) didn’t work with the hostel’s lockers. The system the lockers seem to use rely on pressure from the lock. As I took two small and thin locks they didn’t actually lock the locker. Luckily for me, the illusion of having the lock on the door (although not doing anything) was enough to deter anyone tampering with it. I did, however, make sure that all my valuables were inside my backpack and that the backpack itself was locked.
Small dorms over large ones
Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with a large dorm. My thoughts whilst booking hostels was if I’m sharing with 6 people I may as well share with 32. I did find the hostels with larger dorms were the least sociable but that aspect really didn’t bother me. The issue I had sharing with so many people were trying to work your plans around their schedule. On many occasions, I had a very early start and people were still coming in at 2am in the morning. As a light sleeper, this was far from ideal. Equally trying to pack late at night and leaving early in the morning was difficult. Staying in a room with fewer people minimised the likelihood of treading on other people’s toes.
Overall I can’t complain about my hostel experience and I would definitely do it again if taking a trip that warranted it! They’re a great way to save money and also (if you are an extrovert) meet new people. I believe anyone can find their fit within a hostel and a lot of that comes from what you prepare beforehand.
So those are my top tips for staying in a hostel as a newbie! I do want to make this a bit of a mini-series where we can discuss the truths behind staying in a hostel. I plan on uploading a post on hostel etiquette and also another on what you should pack in order to survive your hostel stay. Let me know if this is something you would be interested in or if you have any other ideas you would like me to explore further.
As always my comments section is always open and I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have!