8 Backpacker Hostel Tips
Hostels are among the cheapest accommodations. Shared bed rooms are often the cheapest accommodation for backpackers, but there are a few aspects that you should consider when searching. In this article I show you 8 tips from searching to staying overnight in a hostel.
Hostels are a cheap alternative to hotels in most countries and very popular among backpackers. Those who really want to save money often choose a shared bed room. Bookings are made via the Internet. But you should not choose the cheapest accommodation or simply the first popping up during your search. Also your behaviour in the hostel should not be arbitrary, as there are big differences to hotels and other accommodations. Here are my 8 hostel tips:
1. Be informed
Before booking the hostel you should always take some time to read some recessions and reviews. I personally pay attention to cleanliness and safety. Bedbugs are really hard to get out of the equipment and I don’t want to shower in a bath, which totally disgusts me. Also you should find out what the hostel offers, because you don’t have to bring things that are included (towels, showers,…) with you
People often ask me about bed linen in hostels. I have never had to bring my own linen. There are hostels that do not include bed linen. You can bring it yourself or rent it on site. Here I would recommend the rental variant, because the linen takes up a lot of space in the luggage and sleeping bags are often not allowed for “hygiene reasons”.
Basically, I prefer hostels with many recessions and reviews, because I can get a better idea of what to expect. However, I have also had good experiences with hostels that haven’t had any ratings yet. In such cases, however, I have made sure that I can to pay on the spot and not before the trip.
2. Carefully choose your hostel location
The location of the hostel plays a very important role for me. Hostels that are far away are usually a bit cheaper and possibly quieter, but it can be financially worthwhile to pay a little more per night and to be more central, as one should always consider the travel costs. Therefore I recommend to include travel costs to places of interest (if you already have plans) in your cost estimation. I always make sure that the hostel is central enough, that I don’t have to pay too much to get to the sights, at the same time I prefer hostels that are not in a party district, because I really need my sleep when travelling.
3. Prepare your bed early and “mark” it
Arriving at the hostel, I had to make my own bed many times. I recommend to do this directly after check-in . Sometimes you don’t know when you will be back at the hostel and so you avoid waking your temporary roommates at night. This might sound a bit stupid at first sight, but you should always put something (towel, shirt, etc.) on the chosen bed such that it will not be occupied by someone else while you are absent. Some hostels take care of it with small signs, but this is rarely the case.
4. Leave no valuables lying around
“Backpackers steal like ravens,” a hostel owner once complained to me. It seems that many thefts take place in accommodations among travellers. I have already been mugged two times (shirt and sewing kit). Therefore you should never leave valuables lying around and if possible use a locker to stow them away. Many hostel operators have installed sockets next to the beds so that you can charge your camera etc. overnight next to your head. I also have the feeling that it is helpful to take the upper bed if there are bunk beds, because this is harder to reach. If you want to be on the safe side even in the absence of a locker, you can put your valuables into a waterproof cover when showering. In general, I would advise to give thieves as little opportunity as possible. It’s not only about valuables, but everything possible, as mentioned above I once had a shirt stolen, which I had hung up to dry. In over 250 nights in hostels this was very rare, but you should always take care of your belongings.
5. Approach other travellers
Socializing in hostels can be worthwhile in many ways. You can do something with fellow backpackers or have an interesting conversation. I also think it’s important to get a little “acquainted”, as this makes the whole stay a bit nicer, especially when it comes to your bed neighbours. I had the feeling that backpackers are more considerate of each other when they have talked to each other.
6. Do not give your passport as a deposit
It has happened to me several times that I was asked for my passport as a deposit. I don’t think it’s a good idea to hand over my passport. In some countries (e.g., Russia or China) this has to happen first, because the passport is needed for registration. Whenever possible, keep your passport with you. If you have to hand it in, always ask why it is necessary.
7. Pack early
You should always pack early, especially when you have to check out in the morning, to avoid waking up other guests. Switching on the light in the morning or in the night wakes up fellow travellers and honestly, would you want to be woken up.
8. Pack the right “equipment”
For hostels the following things should not be missing:
- Earplugs, because you never know if there is a snorer in the room.
- Lock for locking a locker.
- Towel. Should you always have that with you ;-).
- Small flashlight. Not all beds have their own lights. If, for example, you have to go to the toilet at night, you can avoid switching on the light by using a flashlight. A smartphone flashlight app is often sufficient.
What are your experiences with hostels? What are your tips? Write it in the comments down below.