1. The bottom bunk is equivalent to million dollar real estate.
If you’re lucky enough to nab a bottom bunk, then you’re doing well for yourself. They’re highly sought after for many reasons—easy access, more luggage space, and it’s much simpler to pass out in a drunken stupor on a bottom bunk. Who wants to try climbing the rickety and frightening ladders to get to the top bed? Pro-tip: Ladders on hostel bunks suck. They all suck. You aren’t going to find one that doesn’t, so give up that dream immediately.
2. Having plug space in an outlet is a rarity.
If you find a hostel where there are individual outlets per bed, then STAY THERE. Do you understand how difficult it is for five to ten people to share two outlets? On any given day, I have about three things plugged in at once. Don’t even get me started on the adapters. Universal adapters are clunky and reduce the plug space from six to three. It’s like the hunger games trying to get space. So, be quick.
Pro-tip: Let’s be honest; you’re going to end up ‘accidentally’ unplugging people’s stuff at least once.
3. The free food shelf is a godsend.
People who travel and leave food behind help feed the hungry and poor backpackers living in the hostel. It’s in your best interests not to hesitate if you see something you want. I used to be polite and wait at least an hour before I took anything just placed on the free food shelf. Now, it’s like I’m playing a game of football. I’m not afraid to blitz people for the free food or even make an interception before it’s even placed on the shelf. You’ll learn.
4. Nice bathrooms are a thing of the past.
The bathrooms might be super clean, but they’ll never be as wonderful as hotel bathrooms or the one in your own home. Your best bet is finding a hostel with really clean toilets and decent showers. Don’t hope for much more. I’ve been in hostel bathrooms that made me fear for my life. Luckily, I was only visiting.
Pro-tip: Buy a waterproof bag to carry your shower stuff in and cheap flip flops to wear in the shadier showers. People can and will side-eye you if you walk into a bathroom with a duffle full of toiletries. Less is more.
5. Ain’t nobody buyin’ drinks in the club.
Why? Because you won’t be able to afford them. This is probably just in Australia and Europe, but drinks can be quite expensive. Life is much cheaper when you buy your own alcohol and in bulk too. There’s nothing like a fun night out, but all you had to buy was a $7 bottle of wine and $5 tacos afterwards.
6. Mix and match is your best friend.
Backpacking is not the lifestyle for people who need a new outfit every day. Doing laundry is expensive. You’ll end up wearing the same shirt at least twice a week to reduce costs and effort. Bring simple items that you can mix up and match with different things. Don’t be afraid to re-wear clothes throughout the week. If you’re afraid of wearing the same pair of jeans three times in a week, you better get over it. Pro-tip: Compression bags are amazeballs. Invest in them.
7. If the wi-fi is free in a hostel, it’s probably terrible and if you have to pay for it, it’s probably still terrible.
You can’t win. Hostels don’t have enough routers to be fast and reliable when 300 backpackers are trying to use it. Hunt down city libraries or restaurants like McDonald’s so you don’t have to pay for good internet. There’s nothing worse than trying to upload pictures to Facebook with slow internet. Something that used to take you two minutes now has an upload estimate of 78 minutes. The first time this happened to me, I was beyond horrified. Being the spoiled American princess that I am, I used to get strong (and free) wi-fi if I stepped outside and coughed too hard. In Australia, I basically have to pull a circus act to get wi-fi with all the speed and integrity of dial-up. Technically, I am in the future, so why the heck is my connection to the web slower???