So your a backpacker on a budget or someone who just wants somewhere to crash, you have heard that hostels are a cheap, friendly form of accommodation, but you have also heard horror stories about room mates or bed bugs or worse.. don’t fret pet, I am here to help guide you on your hostel holiday adventure. After travelling around Europe for 2.5 months, unpacking and re-packing across several hostels, I am pretty sure I have the hostel room etiquette and basics down pat. This guide is going to help you choose the right hostels and handy hints on getting the most out of your hostel experience.
Finding the right hostel:
This is just a quick guide to helping you find the right hostel for your trip:
1. What do I want?
Now this is possibly the most difficult part, there are so many options out there, how are you to know which one is right for you? Choosing a hostel very much works alongside what you are after, is it:
- Location – Do you want to be in the centre of town or are you fine being a bit further away?
- Price – Establish what your budget is and work from there
- Atmosphere – Are you a party animal or a quiet soul?
- Private or Shared – They say sharing is caring but you need to work out what kind of traveller you are.
2. Do your research
When I was looking across all different websites, I started to notice a trend of hostels that popped up more often than not. So, I googled them to find out what they are like. Treat hostels as if they were 5* hotels, look at the photos, read the reviews, no point in staying somewhere that is in a great location but is crawling with cockroaches! Sometimes it is worth spending the extra coin to stay somewhere decent, cheap is not always better!
Handy hint: Check out what the hostel has to offer. These days a lot of hostels will include breakfast and free wifi in the price but if not, find out how much extra it is, after a night out (or if you stroll in the morning of) its nice to not have search for food!
3. Facilities are important
Make sure you know what the hostel has on site. Whether that’s a bar or restaurant, a communal room, designated wi-fi and computer area its good to know what is there. A hostel having a bar or a good common area gives you more chance of meeting people and making friends.
Handy hint: Find a hostel that has bed lockers. Most of the hostels I have stayed at have metal cages under the lower bunks to lock your things in, some were big enough to fit my whole suitcase!
4. Roomies or roomier?
I am not going to tell you that sharing with random people is the best way to make friends, nor am I going to say that it is 100% safe. I stayed in all types of accommodation and experienced all different types of people, you just need to be on your guard and having a good set of padlocks helps! If you are wanting to make friends but are a first time hostel traveller, stay in a room with 3-6 people in it, that way it is not overwhelming and you are likely to strike up conversation with at least one or two other people!
I’m here… now what?
So you have just checked in and you are heading into your first dorm room, you slide your card key and open and the door. You see two girls on the end of a bed, a boy in the corner reading a book… what do you do? It can be hard at first to establish the best way to make contact or if you make contact at all. Here are some handy hostel hints to making your stay easier:
- Put a smile on your dile – this goes a long way, believe me! Initially before you get to words, a smile is the worldwide action equivalent of hello, understood in all languages.
- Make small talk – Whether this is about the communal showers or how close you are to the Eiffel tower or even if you know the answer, get the conversation flowing. I’m not saying get into a heavy hearted DnM straight away but chatting about them always works too!
- Have respect – This goes for both their personal space and belongings. Get a feel for the type of person they are and make sure you understand their boundaries as I am sure they would yours. Handy Hint: Try and avoid plastic bags, they are loud and will suffocate any chance you have making friends!
- Lock it up – Anything that is of any value to you such as your passport, your laptop, phone charger, anything like that should stay in the lockers provided. If you are in a share dorm, be prepared that not everyone is like you and you will find those who try to knick your things!
- Make plans – If you strike up a conversation with someone at the bar and you decide to go and see Big Ben the next day, follow through! It’s always fun to explore the unknown with someone in the same boat as you.
- Add as Friend – Use Facebook to keep in contact with the people you meet, its worth having contacts to call on all over the world! One of the girls I met in Venice found me after a night out and we went into town together, we ended up being great friends, we still chat through Facebook after 2 years!
Hopefully this gives you a little insight in the hostel world and how to make the most out of your stay!
“Take only memories, leave only footsteps”