How to Make the Most Out of a Hostel Stay
Posted by August 16, 2016in Travelon
Staying in a fancy hotel is all well and good, but it doesn't provide you the same opportunities as a hostel when it comes to socializing with others. Hostels are great for meeting new people and discovering local sites with those who know the layout, and there are numerous hostels that offer quality rooms with low prices--well, that's the whole point, actually.
Hostels are the cheapest and most authentic way to travel abroad on a budget, but if you're used to conventional hotels, you might need a few pointers before your first stay in a hostel. Here are 9 tips on how to make the most out of your hostel experience.
1. Choose Your Room Wisely
Sleeping in a room full of strangers is an odd concept. In college, a dorm room usually sleeps two people max. In a hostel, a room can house up to ten people. That means you could be sharing the room with nine complete strangers.
For those who want more privacy, there are singles, doubles, and even quadruples available in most hostels. You may also have the choice of being in a coed room or a single-sex room. It all depends on the hostel's available space and room layouts.
Choose your room based on your comfort level. If you know you can't handle nine other people in one room, be sure to choose a hostel that offers smaller, more private rooms.
2. Talk to Your Roommates
Socializing with strangers may be intimidating for shy travelers. However, befriending those you room with will improve your experience immensely. It enables you to swap travel tips and ideas and gives you someone to talk to. If you travel alone, then a hostel can be the perfect environment when you're feeling lonely and just need to chat with a friend.
Your roommates will come from all over the world. Making connections will enable you to gather worldly knowledge as well as potential friends to visit and stay with in the future.
3. Bring a Lock
No matter how safe you feel, always lock up your items. It's important to make sure they are in a secured cabinet with a lock that only you can open. Bren, of the travel blog Bren on the Road, recommends taking two or three locks in case you lose one or need to use multiple lockers. He also suggests using a TSA-approved code lock, because a key "just gives you one more thing you could lose." For your security, never give out your lock combination or share your key.
Some hostels allow you to place expensive belongings in a safe which they keep locked. It would be a good idea to consider this if you have items you don't feel comfortable leaving in a community locker room.
4. Secure Valuables
If you don't have a lock and the hostel service does not offer a safe, then here are some different options:
Place your valuables in your pillow case when you sleep. This will allow you to feel if anyone tries to steal your stuff.
Invest in a money belt that will secure your wallet, passport, and other small valuables close to you. It may be a nuisance, but it works.
And remember: never hide stuff in your mattress. It is not a secure place and your stuff may fall out when the staff come to give you clean sheets.
Check out these 8 tips for staying safe while taking public transportation in a foreign country!
5. Bring Earplugs or Headphones
Sleeping in a room full of people may prove difficult if you are woken by noises easily. Someone might snore, another may be a restless sleeper. These are all possibilities in a hostel room. This is why earplugs are a fantastic- and cheap- investment.
If you are on a trip and need to work while you travel, then headphones will be your best friend. They will drown out the noise of people constantly moving in and out. They are also great for watching movies and listening to music without disturbing your roommates.
6. Find An Outlet
Outlets come few and far between in many destinations. In hostels, it's best to choose a bottom bunk in order for your phone charger to reach the outlet. If you want to charge your phone from the top bunk at night, be sure to have a long extension cord that won't destroy your adapter.
Hopefully, if you're stuck with a top bunk, your roommate will be nice enough to share their adapter. It all comes back to having good communication and learning how to share a small space with a lot of people.
7. Try the Food
Many hostels offer breakfast in the morning and dinner at night. Sometimes these come with the room cost, and other times this is an extra fee. However, it would be good to try each meal because they usually serve local, authentic cuisine.
For example, in Italy, a normal breakfast consists of breads and pastries with fruit. These are accompanied by meats and cheeses and possibly juice or espresso. There are rarely eggs or things like pancakes and waffles for breakfast; it all just depends on the location and whether or not your hostel serves international dishes.
You also have the option of fixing your own food from a local grocery. This alternative is cheap and allows you to gain some culinary tips from your fellow roommates.
It's easy to stay healthy while you travel. Just follow these simple tips!
8. Bring Toiletries
In a hostel, you will be sharing a bathroom. They are usually split between the sexes, but this is not a given. Bring a small towel because some places may not provide them. Others provide shower towels made of hand or dish-towel material, which means they are very thin and don't get the job done.
Never forget to wear your shower shoes or something to protect your feet. A public restroom and shower area are littered with germs. Even if they get cleaned daily, protect your feet.
A small bag to carry your bathroom amenities is also a good idea. This will allow you to hang it next to you and transport toiletries easily to the bathroom and then back to your room.
9. Always Go Out
If one of your roommates invites you out, go. This doesn't mean you have to party or drink- it just means you should get out and socialize. This will get you accustomed to your surroundings while enabling you to meet even more people your age outside the hostel.
Be adventurous and open minded. You never know if you will meet your new best friend in another country.
Hostels are the gateway to new friendships and adventures you may never get again. Take advantage of everything they have to offer, but remain mindful that you need to stay safe. Secure valuables and don't forget your shower shoes (AKA: flip-flops).