If you aren’t much of a traveller, living in a hostel is like living on a strange, new island, hidden in the shadows of alleyways you wouldn’t even dare walk down in daylight. Though, some hostels are located in nice areas (try to stay in ones like these).
I’ll admit that before traveling to Ireland with a group, I had never even heard of the word, “hostel.” In fact, when I saw it written down for the first time, I assumed that someone just misspelled the word, “hotel.” Oh, the things we learn. Hostels are inexpensive ways to have sleeping accommodations with a group of people. Think of it as a college dorm room with bunk beds and no other furniture.
By the way, you may not necessarily know the people sharing the room with you… Lucky for me, I knew everyone in my group. We stayed in two VERY different hostels for approximately one week total, and it was a pretty eye-opening experience — in good ways and, umm, not so good ways. Living in a hostel takes skill, instinct and adaptation. But sometimes it just takes the highest level of savagery humanly possible to get the best experience.
1. The race to a WiFi signal is all or nothing.
Most hostels don’t provide the rooms with Wifi because hostel rooms are meant for sleeping in, not keeping the person in the bed next to yours awake because you’re scrolling through Facebook at 2a.m. If you want a signal, you might have to head to the lobby, and hope you get there before everyone else starts hogging it. Run, don’t walk. This is also when you realize that you’ve been taking your ability to FaceTime and text for granted while you’re at home.
2. The bathroom game is the most savage game of all.
While you gather your bathroom necessities for a much-needed hot shower because you woke up extra early to take one, your hostel mate lies in wait for the bathroom to be free and springs up the instant they hear the door open. Meanwhile, you’re still looking for underwear. That, my friends, is the bathroom game. They clearly knew you were going to go in there and wanted to beat you to it. Even though sharing is caring, it’s all hostel mates for themselves. You’ll hate so many people for this, and when you start getting good at the game, people will hate you too.
3. The flu will always be at the top of the food chain.
If one person gets sick, beware. You might be next. Getting sick — no matter where you are — can seriously hold you back from doing things that you want to do. Well, I guess you could still do them but you’ll just be super miserable. Because you’re living in such close proximity to everyone else, the spread of viruses and colds is extremely likely, and it won’t stop until everyone in the room gets sick. One down, seven to go.
4. Warriors wear shower shoes.
Don’t expect a shower fit for a king. Bathroom floors can look pretty gross, especially if you don’t have slippers so you wear shoes into the bathroom because you don’t want your bare feet touching the floor. Honestly, you’ll have to power through it, and wearing shower shoes makes it so much easier (and cleaner) to do that. Your shower flip-flops might be your greatest weapon against dirty floors.
5. Breakfast is sometimes worth a little extra hunting.
Breakfast in hostels are EXTREMELY light. You may have some bland cereal, two slices of toast that are barely even toasted and a spot of coffee to wash it all down. If this isn’t enough to keep you going, you may want to venture out in search of a diner or deli nearby. You’ll want to have enough energy to haul yourself into the showers with gross floors.
6. Cages are for keeping people out, not keeping belongings in.
It’s true that in some hostels, the beds have cages underneath with a place to put a lock on them. Don’t be freaked out or confused (even though I was at first). This is so you have a place to store valuable items while you’re out during the day. But more importantly, it’s to keep sticky fingers out of your stuff. Locking your stuff away is the smart thing to do if you want to walk away with everything you brought in. Likewise, don’t take offense if you see the person in the bed next to yours lock their stuff away, too.