The first time I stayed at a hostel I really had no idea what I was getting myself into personally. I heard stories, read a couple reviews and saw some pictures of the Internet, but when I got there it was completely different. Here are some things to remember if you’re a first time hostel goer or just need a little reminder.
1. Don’t believe the pictures.
The pictures are like when you walked into a college dorm room the first time at orientation or on a tour and they showed you a staged set up room. Yeah, that’s what hostel photos are like. They are generally not as nice as the pictures make them out to be and they could be located in a sketchy area. Just a warning.
2. Buy a lock.
If you take anything away from this the number one thing is buying a lock. Most rooms all have lockers and you are required to bring your own lock or the reception desk might have one you can rent. But in the long run it’s much cheaper to just buy your own. It’s also smarter because spending five or 10 bucks on a lock can save you hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars of your items being stolen.
I personally don’t use them, but I was also woken up at 5:30 this morning. A lot of time you’ll be in a shared dorm type room and that means you’re not only worried about your own schedule but also other people’s and those people might have to get up early and catch a flight. Earplugs could keep the racket down in the room.
4. Eye mask.
This is like the earplugs, totally personal preference, but if you have to wake up early and want to sleep early your roommates might not care and leave the lights on. It’s a way to get some darkness and shut eye.
5. Shower flip-flops.
Seriously bring them because feet are just gross. You don’t want to contract anything on the bathroom floor because as much as they may or may not clean it, the risk just isn’t worth it and it will make you feel all around better to not have your feet touch the wet tile floor.
6. Pack for hot and cold temperatures.
You never know how hot or cold your room might be no matter what the outside weather is like. It could be freezing in your room from the AC in the middle of a hot Thailand summer. Have sweatpants and shorts, be prepared for both.
7. Bring your own shower items.
Most of the time hostels don’t provide you with towels and if they do have towels you have to hire them (just bring your own, it’s much more hygienic). There is no shampoo and conditioner if you forget yours that you can ask the front desk for. So come prepared with all the shower essentials or else you’ll have to buy them from a convenient store when you get there.
8. Don’t be shy.
Don’t sit in your room alone if you’re traveling solo because I can guarantee that you’re not the only one in the hostel who came alone. Familiarize yourself with the people in passing. If anything just ask the Wi-Fi password or where they are from. It’s a simple, yet easy way to strike up a conversation with a fellow traveler.
9. Pick your room wisely.
If you’re traveling solo then you might want to pick a smaller dorm room, but if you’re with a group of friends then staying in a 8 or 10 person dorm might be more fun. If you’re a female most hostels offer female only dorm options and those might suit you better. However, I totally suggest you stay in a shared dorm instead of purchasing a private room because it will help you connect to more people and you never know who you’ll meet.
10. Know what you’re getting into before you arrive.
Key points I look for in the hostels I’m booking is if there is free Wi-Fi and if they is free breakfast. Free breakfast will save you money even if it’s usually just toast and Wi-Fi will be good to stay connected and let people know you’re safe. Otherwise the hostel will most likely have Wi-Fi but still charge you for it.
11. Always take the bottom bunk.
If it’s available snatch it up. The bottom bunks are so much more comfortable and you can leave your stuff under the bed, place your bags on the bed as you get ready and you don’t have to climb up steps to get to your bed. It’s ultimately the best option.
12. Take advantage of tours the hostel offers.
Hostels are great ways to find awesome deals. There is usually a whole heap of pamphlets in the hallway and you can easily book trips with reception. There is usually a board with deals on it. In Australia usually skydiving in on there if that’s always been on your bucket list a hostel might be the place to make your dreams come true!