Eight tips for surviving a hostel

December 07, 2015
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No matter what your parents say, hostels are nothing like the 2005 Eli Roth film, Hostel. Instead, they’re busy, social, loud and cheap places to stay when you’re travelling. With this in mind, hostels aren’t always for everyone.

If you fit into that category, don’t stress - we’ve come up with some tips for the hostel novice. These’ll help you get a good night's sleep, enjoy the heck out of your stay and survive hostel living.

Take a lock

With people wandering in and out of a hostel room, you can’t always guarantee your stuff will be kept safe and untouched. The simplest way to make sure your belongings are kept secure is by getting yourself a padlock. If you’re leaving your bags in a dorm for a few days, get yourself a bike lock and you’ll be able to lock your bags to your bed.

Watch out for bedbugs

Not to alarm anyone, but lots of hostel beds will have bedbugs. These tiny, flesh-feasting critters will leave bite marks and can cause irritations, but a simple bedsheet or doona cover can help keep them out and make your stay in a hostel a whole lot more comfortable. It might be worth taking some anti-itch ointment anyway, just in case.

Bunk placement is important

If you’re on the bottom, people will be climbing over you. If you’re in the middle, you’ll have someone possibly hitting your bunk in the morning. And if you’re on the top, you often don’t have too much room, and a quick dash to the loo in the middle of the night isn’t easily done. The best decision is really only made from sussing out the situation and weighing up what peeves you most, or even considering whether a bunk is right for you. Which brings me to my next point…

Splash out on a private room every so often

After travelling around a foreign country and sleeping in hostels for weeks on end, it’s sometimes nice to treat yo’ self to a little bit of luxury. Private rooms can set you back a few extra dollars a night, but you’ll be rewarded with peace, quiet and (sometimes) a private bathroom. Most importantly, with this extra room you’ll be able to wash your clothes and rearrange your bag.

Take advantage of the free stuff

Because 99.99 per cent of all people staying in hostels are after a budget holiday, you can often find a lot of free stuff around the place. Often, you can find free social events like pool comps, pub crawls and trivia nights. Get on the free social things and you’ll be able to save a bunch of money, as well as meet some potential new friends.

Research, and don’t have expectations

Travellers are often let down by expectations. Great photos of amazing pools, crazy parties and dope bars might be littered all over the internet, but often the reality of these places is far different. TripAdvisor or Hostel World will have trustworthy recommendations on where to stay.

Eye masks and earplugs will save your life!

When you’re sharing a room with up to 16 different people, interrupted sleep is a given. To minimise these interruptions, you’ll need two handy things: a blackout eye mask and a pair of earplugs. If you find music relaxes you, try getting yourself some sound-reducing or cancelling earbuds so you can sleep all night through the rowdy chaos that can come from a dorm.

Wear a smile

As goofy as it sounds, the best currency in a hostel is a smile. Keep positive and you’ll be handed lots of helpful tips, attract lots of new friends, and you might even be able to scab some free stuff like soap or extra towels from the hostel staff. 

Keegan Thomson

Keegan is studying journalism at the University of Western Sydney. He’s an avid storyteller and global traveller whose likes include fresh bed sheets and Jeff Goldblum movies.

Image: Hannu Makarainen, Flickr Creative Commons license

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