Staying in a hostel was something I was extremely wary of before my backpacking Europe trip last year! I was filled with horror stories and the worry of sharing a room with complete strangers. Today I have decided to try and take that worry a little bit off your shoulders by writing the post I wish I had before staying in my first hostel.
Despite the current situation with COVID-19, I think its as important as ever to start planning your next trips wherever that may take you. Hostels, hotels and rented holiday accommodation, as well as the entire travel industry, are really struggling right now. Let’s make plans for the best trip ever post Coronavirus.
I am definitely not suggesting you go and book your next holiday right now with everything so uncertain. Best save that for another day when things become a little clearer in terms of unessential travel.
When we arrived at our first hostel we didn’t know what to expect. This particular hostel we were sharing a room with between 30-40 other people. We really threw ourselves in the deep end.
The first thing you will do when you arrive at the hostel is check-in like any other accommodation. The process is very similar to that of a hotel. Some hostels may require a deposit often this is cash (up to €10) others it can be an ID, passport or credit/debit card. In one hostel we didn’t have enough cash on us and ended up leaving one of our driving licences with the reception staff. This was then returned on check out.
Hostels will also require information from the individual that booked it – this includes your passport number so make sure to have it ready!
Once you have arrived the hostel staff will do whatever possible to make you feel comfortable and at home. I didn’t once enter a hostel to a negative experience by staff. This instantly will help ease your nerves and help you settle in. If you have any issues or questions the staff are there to support you.
Choosing your hostel & dorm.
When booking I would often try to book a hostel with 24-hour reception. This was for my personal peace of mind that if something were to happen they would be there to lend a hand.
Once in the hostel, you will be shown to your room. There are many room options depending on your preferences. Female only dorms, mixed dorms and dorms of all different sizes. Dependant on the hostel this may change the price you are quoted. For instance, I know female-only dorms often come at an increased cost though this may be worthwhile if you are a solo female backpacker.
I never had a negative experience with another traveller in a hostel and now would have the confidence to enter a mixed dorm on my own. Though I do believe it is important to remain visual and aware.
What to bring.
When at the hostel I would recommend having a couple of padlocks. Many hostels have a couple of locked storage options however they do require your own padlock to secure them. I would take a small padlock which can be used on the backpack itself. Some hostels don’t provide big enough storage, especially for large luggage so you want to make sure your backpack is secured.
I would highly recommend the ZHEGE TSA Luggage padlocks as these worked perfectly for most hostel lockers and also doubled up well as a chunkier backpack padlock during flights. They’re flexible which makes them perfect for almost any situation.
Another lifesaver for me whilst staying at the hostel was my sleep mask and earplugs. These are essential if you want a complete, uninterrupted night sleep especially if sharing a dorm with a large number of people.
Mealtimes can be a challenge depending on the size of the hostel and also its facilities. One of the perks of backpacking is being able to save money by cooking your own food and everyone takes advantage of this!
Make sure to clean up your own mess as quickly as possible to be sure no one is waiting around to use the utensils you used to cook with once you are done.
Many hostels require you to use stickers to mark what food belongs to who and the date you check out (these will be provided). This is just so they know if any food needs to be thrown out. Also, check if there’s a day of the week that the fridge is emptied to save you from losing any food still in date and owned by you!
We found that as the evening goes on the kitchen gets busier. Earlier in the evening, it does seem to be quieter as many are still out adventuring. This does make cooking easier though if you’re looking to socialise cooking later may be what you’re looking for!
Unfortunately whilst in one of our hostels, our packed lunch got stolen! This isn’t unheard of though was a little unexpected.
Later in the evening, many hostels hold events. These can vary and alternate depending on when you are visiting. The receptionist should let you know about events on check-in. I strongly recommend attending these events especially when solo travelling as they will really help you socialise. However, I wouldn’t recommend going to any events that make you feel uncomfortable – for instance, I don’t drink alcohol and therefore a pub crawl wouldn’t suit me.
In the dorm room.
Hostels tend to have ‘quiet time’ this will dependant on the hostel. Usually, this will start between 10-11pm and run through till 7am. During this time it is expected of you to keep the noise down and the lights off in the hostel room in respect of fellow roommates. Many may have an early start the following day so be respectful of anyone trying to get to sleep.
Entering the hostel late at night also isn’t unheard of. There has been many a time that I entered the room after ‘quiet time’ started. If you know you will be home late it might be worth keeping all your essentials for the evening (no valuables) on your bed to save you rustling through your bag once back. Try to minimise the amount of noise you make but of course, people understand you will need to make a bit of noise while settling back in.
I do hope these tips help any nervous first-time hostel goers! If anyone has any more tips I would love to hear them in the comments section below.
Where was your first ever hostel say? Or where do you plan on staying next? Let’s get discussing in the comments!
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