an image of a hostel room

Tips To Make Your Hostel as Comfortable as Possible

They are a great way to save money while traveling, but there are a few etiquette and safety rules you should know before you check in.
August 25, 2022
8 mins read

Taking a trip on a budget? Hostels can be your best friend. Still, it takes a seasoned traveler to make the best of the experience and make them comfortable. However, using some basic tips and tricks, you too can travel like a pro.

Hostel Etiquette

Part of what makes hostels so appealing to the adventurous traveler is the opportunity to meet people from all around the world. The shared living quarters promote conversation and cultivate a shared sense of camaraderie that is unique to this style of travel. However, with shared living spaces, it is vital that everyone respects the needs and comfort of those around them. This means that everyone must maintain a certain courtesy for all those using the hostel’s space.

First, it is important that you consider the range of people who choose to stay in hostels. People of all ages, cultures and backgrounds can be found in hostels, so it is important to be understanding and respectful of those differences. Also, keep in mind that people come from all over and travel can be a taxing process even on the best of us, so if you see people sleeping at odd hours, try to be quiet. No one is expecting you to tip-toe around all day, as it’s accepted that during the day the room is fair game, but keep in mind how hard jetlag can be and try your best. Come 10 or 11 o’clock, most people will be settling down for bed, so be respectful of that. If you aren’t ready to sleep yet, take the party elsewhere.

Because everyone is sharing the space, one person’s actions can affect everyone in the hostel. Due to this, it is understood that you will do your part to take care of the space you are in. Try to limit what food you bring into the room, particularly open containers. Imagine having to get off an overnight flight only to find your bed covered in ants because someone left their food out. Also, clean up after yourself. Do not leave your things scattered all over; rather try to consolidate everything in your bag or locker. Who wants to come back to their room and have it look like a tornado ran through it? No one wants to have to clean up after you. Plus, keeping your things together and organized makes it harder to lose anything, so really, it is a win-win.

Everyone staying in your room with you has paid for the bed they are sleeping in. This means that bringing other, uninvited guests to the dorm is not something that is well-received. Having over people to party or participate in other disruptive activities is a big no-no. Treat your hostel more as a home base where you are going to shower and sleep, not hang out.

Packing Smart

Your stay at a hostel can be improved with just a few packing tips to make sure you are ready for anything. While packing light is better, if only for the sake of your back, there are a few items that are well worth the extra weight. We all love our beauty sleep, so earplugs and an eye mask are essential. Imagine someone has disregarded hostel etiquette and has invited some noisy guests over while you have to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to catch your bus — those earplugs and masks are going to be your best friends. Try these silicone earplugs from Loop that are comfortable for even the side-sleeper and this blackout sleep mask from Manta Sleep.

Communal bathrooms are the downside to communal spaces, but they are not so bad if you come prepared. Bring shower shoes, as you will want to protect yourself from unwanted bacteria. Unfortunately, the shower, being continually damp, allows for bacteria to breed and proliferate, leading to the inadvertent transmission of infections. Protecting yourself is as easy as throwing a pair of plastic flip-flops into your bag. Also, many hostels will make you pay to rent a towel, so if you want to save a few bucks, consider bringing a small microfiber towel such as these easily packed away camping towels.

Many hostels will also make you rent a padlock for your lockers, so bringing your own can also be smart, as you can keep your things safe while saving some money. Also, remember that outlets vary depending on the country. The only thing worse than having your phone die while traveling is not being able to charge it. Pack a travel outlet adaptor to make sure you can use all your plugs and appliances while abroad.

Staying Safe

While traveling, it is always important to keep your wits about you. Tourists can be magnets for thieves and others with nefarious intentions, so take some extra steps to ensure that you and your things stay safe. You are staying with a group of strangers at a hostel. While this is part of the reason hostels are so fun, it can also make them dangerous. Ensure that you never leave your things unattended. No matter how nice everyone in your dorm may seem, it is better to be safe than sorry. Make sure that you leave your valuables at home. That way, if something is stolen, it will not be so hard to replace. It can also be a good idea to buy some travel insurance in case anything goes wrong.

Before you book your hostel stay, do some research on the area and the amenities offered to you. Does the door have a lock? Who can access the building? Is it in a good area? These are all important questions to ask before settling on a place to stay.

As long as you are willing to put up with some snoring, hostels are an amazing way to travel without breaking the bank. They also create a unique space in which you can interact with people from all over the world from a wide variety of backgrounds. While communal living situations do come with some drawbacks, a little preparation and knowledge of a few tricks can turn your hostel stay into a vacation.

Kaitlyn Anderson, Cornell University

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Kaitlyn Anderson

Cornell University
Communication, Biology and Society

Kaitlyn Anderson is a student at Cornell University. She loves to explore the intersection between science and humanitarian studies. She lives in New Hampshire where she enjoys hiking and surfing.

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