The Ultimate Hostel Guide: Hostels 101


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The Ultimate Hostel Guide is for anyone new to hostels or just looking for more information about budget accommodation options.

This guide is for you if you are:
-Planning your first hostel stay
-Backpacking Europe
-Studying abroad
-Worried about your kid staying in hostels
-Wondering WTF is a hostel because you’re an American

This guide contains everything you need to know about hostelling. You’ll learn how hostels work, how to stay safe, how to be a good guest, what to pack, and how to meet people.

Published in: Travel

The Ultimate Hostel Guide: Hostels 101

  1. 1. About this e-book Hostels 101 is an e-book for first-time hostel-goers and those new to hostelling. In this e-book, you’ll learn: What is a hostel? How does it differ from a hotel? Are hostels right for you? Which type of hostel should you book? How can you stay safe while at a hostel? What do you need to bring when staying at a hostel? How can you make friends at your hostel? Hostels 101 was created by WeHostels, the travel company behind the social, hostel-booking app of the same name. We made this e-book to answer the most common questions we hear from first- time hostellers. Hostels are our business,,so we know them well. And, as backpackers ourselves, we have stayed in every kind of hostel imaginable. You can learn more about WeHostels on our website, You can find the contents of this e-book online via this link (
  2. 2. About the Authors Fred Perrota jessie festa Jessie Festa, a New York native, is a world traveler always looking for a new adventure. Some of her favorite experiences on the road have been: teaching English in Thailand, working in an orphanage in Ghana, hiking her way through South America, studying in Australia and backpacking solo through Europe. You can follow her travels online at Jessie on a Journey and Epicure & Culture. Fred Perrotta is the director of marketing at WeHostels and the founder of Tortuga Backpacks. He’s worked in India and Australia, backpacked Eastern Europe and visited over a dozen countries. His favorite meal abroad was spicy beef ramen in Tokyo.
  3. 3. Table of Contents Hostels 101: What is a Hostel? ................ Dispelling Hostel Myths .......................... Are Hostels Right For You? ..................... How to Stay Safe at a Hostel .................... Which Type of Hostel is Right for You? .. What to Pack for a Hostel ......................... Hostel Etiquette 101: How To Be A Good Hostel Guest .............................................. How to Make Hostel Friends .................... Ready for Your Trip? ................................
  4. 4. Hostels 101: What is a Hostel? When you’re traveling on a budget, hostels are an excellent accommodation choice. Not just affordable, they tend to be more social and experiential than hotels, with common areas, group activities and shared living spaces. But not all hostels are created equal. To pick the best hostel for you, you need to understand what a hostel is and what to look for before you book. they tend to be more social and experiential than hotels, with common areas, group activities and shared living spaces. “ Wombats City Hostel Budapest
  5. 5. What is a Hostel? Myths about hostels or the horror movie, Hostel, often confuse people as to what a hostel even is. We say: Picture a college dorm. You’ll have roommates and will share spaces like the bathroom, kitchen and common room. The more social hostels can also have bars and restaurants, and sometimes even movie theaters, rooftop lounges and pools. Most of all, hostels are a great place to meet people. Wombats Hostel
  6. 6. Hostels vs. Hotels If you’ve only ever stayed in hotels, it is worth taking a closer look at the differences between hotels and hostels. Social First, hostels are more social. While in the lobby of a hotel, guests tend to read the paper or work on their laptops in peace and quiet. Hostel common spaces are livelier. Guests share stories, watch television, play guitar and plan upcoming travel with new friends. Privacy Another major difference is privacy. While you’ll be paying much less at a hostel, you’ll sacrifice some privacy. Most spaces are shared -- like bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and lounges. If you are planning to have some alone time, a hostel is probably not the best choice. But one way to get more privacy is by trying to stay in single or double rooms, smaller dorms or by splitting your stays between hostels and hotels to get both experiences.Price Price is also a big difference. Because hotels typically provide luxurious amenities, complete privacy and a polished ambience, you pay a much higher price. Even budget hotels are more expensive than hostels. Sharing a room and bathrooms with others lowers the price dramatically. Toiletries Hotels always include the “little hotel bottles” amenities: soap, shampoo, and lotion. These items are rarely offered in hostels, so you’ll need to pack your own toiletries. Check with your hostel to see whether towels are provided for free, rent, or not at all.
  7. 7. Activities Both hotels and hostels usually have tour desks, but hotels tend to act as a middleman for tour companies while hostels offer their own activities, put on by staff. Hostels often offer experiences like city tours, comedy nights, pub crawls and live music shows for free or a small fee. At check in, hostels give their guests a map, detailing where to go and what to see in the city. Because hostels tend to be run by locals and backpackers who fell in love with the city and didn’t want to leave, you’ll have city experts available to you at all times. Hans Megabutze
  8. 8. Sharing a Room with Strangers Many first-time hostel-goers are concerned about sharing a room with people they don’t know. Picture the college dorm scenario. You didn’t know your roommate the first day but you soon became friends (or at least acquaintances who could talk over breakfast). Hostels are similar. You will get to know the people in your room, giving you the opportunity to make new friends if you want to. Hostel mates are an especially valuable resource for solo travelers. You can find a companion for sightseeing or dinner. Dorm sizes vary, so you can choose how many people to share your room with. Some hostel dorms have just two beds while others have over 100. Most dorms range from four to sixteen beds. Hostel culture is social. Travelers staying in budget accommodations are friendly and enjoy interacting with their hostel mates. Don’t be surprised if a complete stranger invites you to go hiking or clubbing. That’s just the personality of the hostel traveler. If you want to socialize with other travelers but still want your own room for sleeping, book a single or double room. Private rooms are more expensive than dorms but are still cheaper than a hotel. Mark Hill Photography
  9. 9. Modern Hostels Hostels lack the polish and grandeur of a hotel, but modern hostels are making the experience more luxurious. Along with offering private rooms, rooftop lounges and hot tubs, some boutique hostels showcase some of the following: stylish interiors, saunas, fitness centers, scenic balconies, private rainshowers, orthopedic foam mattresses, lavish toiletries, Turkish baths, swimming pools and more. While they aren’t the norm, you can find luxury hostels. For example, Plus Hostel in Florence offers indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a Turkish bath, a steam room, a sauna, a fitness room and a scenic rooftopterrace.EcoResortChiangMaiisso luxurious they sometimes host weddings, offering an in-ground pool surrounded by palm trees, private and small dorms, free Wi-Fi, a movie theater, a gym, a library, cooking classes and the option to dine on an outdoor patio immersed in lush jungle. PLUS Florence PLUS Florence Eco Resort Chiang Mai Eco Resort Chiang Mai
  10. 10. What To Look For When Booking Amenities When choosing a hostel, look for the following amenities: • Hot Water • Air Conditioning • Lockers • Luggage Storage • Towels • Linens • Breakfast • 24-Hour Reception • Credit Cards Accepted • Computer Room/Wi-Fi • Kitchen • Tour Desk • Organized Activities • Bar/Club • Restaurant • Game Room • Airport/Train Station Pickup • Laundry Service • Book Exchange • DVDs • Security Guard You may have to pay a fee for certain amenities. But others are offered for free. Offerings like lockers, linens, towels, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and breakfast are often complimentary. It is best to think about the facilities and amenities important to you and book a hostel that offers them.
  11. 11. Location If possible, book a hostel in a central location close to attractions and public transportation. A hostel that’s dirt cheap but a taxi ride away from the sights won’t save you money in the long run. Safety Safety is a major concern when staying at hostels. Nothing is more important when traveling. Sharing a room can be great for making friends but it also adds some worry about keeping your belongings secure. Always make sure your hostel offers lockers. Hostels often offer women-only dorms to relieve any anxieties a female traveler may have about sharing a room with men. In fact, while it’s not the norm, some hostels are women-only. Twenty-four-hour reception usually adds more security — as does a security guard and a password-protected front door.
  12. 12. Curfews Curfews were once the norm for hostels. You were required to be back at a certain time or you would be locked out. While not common anymore, some hostels still have curfews. Most travelers find them to be an inconvenience as you may get held up past curfew or want to stay out late exploring the nightlife. Check with your hostel to see if it enforces a curfew. Reviews Visitingthehostel’swebsitecangiveyouinsightintowhatisoffered,but you’ll get a snapshot into the real story by reading reviews. Remember, the photos on the hostel’s website are edited. Reading online reviews will allow you to gauge if that “centrally-located” hostel is actually near the sites and if the “immaculate rooms” are as clean as claimed. Now you know the basics about hostels. You can differentiate them from hotels and know what to look for when choosing a hostel. Next, let’s explore some common myths about hostels to learn what is and isn’t true.  
  13. 13. Dispelling Hostel Myths Hostels get a bad rap. Whether because of a bad experience, fear of the unknown, or the horror movie, many false rumors about hostels have spread. It is claimed that hostels are dirty, unsafe, and full of loud, drunken teenagers. Those hostels are a minority and easily avoided if you read reviews before booking. Read on to find out what else you’ve heard about hostels is a myth.
  14. 14. Hostels Are Unsafe Like most things in life, each hostel is different. Some hostels take more safety precautions than others. Most hostels do everything in their power to keep guests safe by providing maps and lockers, code- locking the front entrance or rooms, giving guests individual room keys, having a 24/7 receptionist and not allowing outside visitors into the hostel. Check your hostel’s website and read reviews to see exactly what it offers and how well its management follows through on its promises. Graham Walton
  15. 15. Hostels Are Dirty Hostels are cleaned on a daily basis. Though, you are more likely to find a mess of other people’s belongings since you’re sharing common spaces with them. Hostels have a relaxed, lived-in feel different from the polished ambiance of most hotels. Unlike hotels, they have personality. Staying at a hostel feels like hanging out in a friend’s living room. Hostels Have Bedbugs Nothing would ruin a hostel’s reputation like bedbugs. As with hotels, hostels wash their linens between every guest. To prevent bedbug infestations, many hostels do not allow outside sleeping bags. Katie Brady
  16. 16. Hostels Are Rowdy Party hostels do exist. Although, “rowdy” behaviorisusuallykepttothebar.However, many hostels have a low-key vibe. If you’re worried about staying somewhere loud and rambunctious, choose a small hostelwithoutanonsitecluborbarinstead, as these tend to be more relaxed properties. Larger hostels attract more partiers. Lastly, read reviews to get a feel for a hostel’s style and guests. Backpackers Like to Drink and Smoke All Day Backpackershavebeenunfairlystereotypedaspartiersbecausealoudandembarrassing minority likes to get wasted. But the truth is that backpackers, like any other travelers, want to explore the city, see the sites and sometimes just relax. Many hostels are very quiet during the day as people are either napping or sightseeing. You Must Be A Student To Stay In A Hostel Hostels began as student accommodations, but they have evolved over time to be an affordable, safe and social haven for travelers of all ages. You can book a hostel even if you’ve never stepped foot in a classroom. Having a student ID could get you a discount. Barnacles Budget Accommodation
  17. 17. Hostels are Only for Poor People Hostels are for anyone — rich or poor — who wants a budget- friendly, social place to stay. Long-term travelers are the main clientele in hostels as being on the road for weeks on end can be expensive. Hostels are a great way to save money while traveling. You can put the money you save on accommodations toward activities, food, flights and gifts. You Have to Share a Room in a Hostel Shared dorms are the norm, but hostels offer private rooms too. Although more expensive than dorms, private rooms are still cheaper than hotel rooms. When booking a hostel, search for private singles or doubles, preferably with an en suite bathroom. Cocomama Hostel Christol Hostel Safestay London
  18. 18. Hostels Have Nothing To Offer One of the major selling points of hostels is free and cheap entertainment. Game rooms, city tours, pub crawls, comedy nights, live music and happy hour specials are often available. Hostel staffers are backpackers or social locals who enjoy planning outings and sightseeing tours for guests. These activities are a great time to make friends. Hostels Have No Amenities Hostels are full of worthwhile amenities, say some. In fact, some hostels offer more free and inexpensive amenities than hotels: WiFi, buffet breakfasts, lockers, city tours, concerts, pub crawls, game rooms, DVD libraries, restaurants, bars and book exchanges are all common. High-end hostels have more luxurious offerings, like hot tubs, pools, fitness centers and rooftop lounges. Hostels Have No Concierge Service Hostels don’t have dedicated concierges, buttheydohavetourdesks.Hostelstaffers are passionate locals or backpackers who loved the city so much they decided to stay. They will happily help you plan your stay. Hotels promote tour companies, but hostel workers give more personal recommendations, providing you with a way to have a more authentic experience in a city. Hopefully this chapter has dispelled some of the myths you may have heard about hostels. In the next chapter, we pose 6 questions to determine if hostels are right for you.
  19. 19. Are Hostels Right For You? Hostelsofferbudget-friendly,socialaccommodations.Butarethey right for you? Before booking, answer the following questions. If you answer yes to any of the questions, you’re an ideal hosteller. Are You Traveling on a Budget? Are You on a Long Trip? Are Tou Traveling Solo? Do You Enjoy Spending Time in Groups? Do You Want to Feel at Home? Do You Like Getting to Know Locals? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you might enjoy staying at a hostel.
  20. 20. Safety is the #1 concern of hostel rookies. Hostels aren’t less safe than hotels, but they do require a few extra precautions. You’ll be sharing living space with strangers. So choose the right hostel, pack with safety in mind, and use common sense during your stay. How to Stay Safe at a Hostel Nicole C. Engard
  21. 21. WhattoLookforWhen Choosing a Hostel Read Reviews Research your hostel before booking. Both hostels and hotels make less-than-accurate claims on their websites. Guest reviews will be more honest. If the hostel claims to be “centrally-located” but online reviewers say it’s in a bad area, trust the reviews. They will give you a great window into the real story about a hostel. Stay at a Centrally- Located Hostel Choose a Hostel with Security Choose a hostel with a 24/7 reception desk, security guard, or code-locked front door. A 24/7 reception desk doesn’t just mean you can check in at any time. It also means someone is always watching the door. A security guard or code-locked front door also adds to safety but are less common than 24/7 reception. Make location, not price, your first priority when booking. A dirt cheap hostel in a seedy location isn’t worth the savings. You’llsavemoneybystayinginacentral location by not needing to rely on taxis to visit sites or to get around the city.
  22. 22. Upgrade to Smaller Dorms Logically, the less people in your dorm, the less people you need to worry about stealing your stuff. You’ll also be able to get to know each of your roommates better in a 4-person dorm than one with 12 or 20 people. When an item goes missing in a smaller dorm, the list of suspects is shorter. The small difference in price is worth the extra security. Women, Consider Female-Only Dorms Many hostels offer women-only dorms. They can reduce anxieties of female travelers from sharing a bedroom with guys they don’t know. Mixed dorms aren’t necessarily less safe, but a women- only dorm can give females more privacy and keep them out of any uncomfortable situations. Peretz PartenskyYHA Auckland International
  23. 23. WhattoPack Bring A Lock Before booking a hostel, make sure it has lockers. You can store your belonging there for free or sometimes for a small fee. Bring your own lock so you don’t have to rent one from the hostel. A combination lock works well, because you won’t need to worry about keeping track of a key. Don’t Bring Anything Irreplaceable This advice is wise whether you’re staying in a budget hostel or a luxury hotel. If you can’t bear to lose something — your grandmother’s pearls, a Rolex, a wedding ring — don’t bring it. You’ll have less to worry about knowing your valuables are safe at home. Items like cameras and passports can be staples for your trip. Make sure to keep these secure or hidden, even when you’re in your hostel. Don’t tempt any would-be thieves. foeoc kannilc sudarshan vijayaraghavan hardwareelf See-ming Lee
  24. 24. Don’t Carry Too Much Cash While you can easily cancel a stolen credit card or debit card, you’ll never get stolen cash back. Remember, the less cash you carry, the less can be stolen. Any cash you do carry should be kept concealed in a locker or a hidden pocket. Instead of carrying lots of cash, make smaller, more frequent withdrawals from the ATM. If possible, use a debit card without foreign ATM fees to avoid the costs associated with frequent withdrawals. Make Copies Of Important Documents Before leaving, make two sets of copies of your passport, driver’s license, credit and debit cards, birth certificate and any important travel documents. Leave one set of copies at home with your family and keep the other with you in a safe place apart from the originals. Replacing these documents will be much easier if you have the copies. Keep Credit On Your Phone If you’re bringing a phone, make sure it has credit and is charged, so you can make emergency calls if needed. Find out the numbers of the local authorities and store them in your phone. epSos .deJ Aaron Farr Warren Rohner
  25. 25. After You Check In Ask For A Detailed Map Usually, the first thing you get when you walk into a hostel is a map. You can carry the map with you so you don’t wander into any sketchy areas. Instead of just taking the map as is, ask the front desk to circle the areas safe to explore and to put an “x” through the neighborhoods to avoid. Carry The Hostel’s Contact Info Carry the business card or brochure of your hostel with you at all times. If you’re ever lost or feeling unsafe, hail a taxi and hand the driver the address. Even if you don’t speak the language, you can always get back to your hostel. Make Friends But Stay Alert You and your roommates are all in the same boat in terms of lack of privacy and wanting to stay safe. Generally, hostel- goers are respectful of others’ space and belongings but they are still strangers. You should be social and enjoy sightseeing and nights out together, but there is no need to give away too much information. Nobody needs to know how much cash you’re carrying or that you brought your iPad. Don’t ask anyone to watch your purse or camera when you go to the restroom. Instead, bring it with you or lock it up.
  26. 26. Make Sure Someone Knows Where You Are Always keep your family and friends updated on your whereabouts, including the name of the hostel where you are staying. While you may feel the need to run with the wind and be a free soul, do so without jeopardizing your safety and let your family know where you are. Don’t Feel Bad About Relocating If you feel uncomfortable in a certain hostel, move. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Speak Up If you see something illegal or suspicious, tell a hostel employee. Don’t second-guess yourself thinking you’re overreacting. Speaking up ensures everyone’s safety. The hostel owner will appreciate your coming forward so he/she can make the space as safe as possible for guests. Staying safe at a hostel takes a bit of common sense and some planning. If you choose a highly-rated hostel and lock up your stuff, you’ll avoid 99% of all potential problems. Don’t let a few rumors or a silly horror movie deter you from a fun, low-cost place to stay.  
  27. 27. Which Type of Hostel is Right for You? Not all hostels are created equal. Hostels come in all different shapes and sizes and cater to different people. Some hostels cater to luxury travelers and flashpackers while others are geared toward partygoers. Moreover, there are “green” hostels, family-friendly hostels, historic hostels, hostels with happening rooftop scenes and others. For the complete guide to navigating the different hostel types, read on. Timothy Tolle
  28. 28. Luxury Hostels Luxury hostels offer amenities like individual rooms, rooftop pools, fitness centers, hot tubs, spas, flat- screen TVs and sleek designs rivaling even the most stylish hotels. For example, Eco Resort Chiang Mai is an upscale hostel in Thailand with a contemporary Thai design, an oversized, in-ground pool surrounded by glistening palms, free WiFi, cooking classes, outdoor art, a gym, movie theater, library, tour bookings and private and small-dormrooms.Theyevenofferweddingpackages. The Siem Reap Hostel in Cambodia offers both private rooms and dorms and has a poolside bar and restaurant, well-manicured gardens, free WiFi, complimentary airport pickup, a game room, a tour desk, daily happy hours, a $2 gourmet all-you-can- eat breakfast and on-site spa offering sumptuous treatments for $35 or less. Not bad! Eco Resort Chiang Mai
  29. 29. Party Hostels These properties feature bars, nightclubs, a full social calendar, no curfew and an energetic atmosphere. So if you want to party on, pick one of these hostels. The Loki Hostel in Cuzco, Peru is a legendary party hostel. Loki’s South American properties are home to some of the wildest parties on the continent. The Cuzco property is notorious for hosting lively flip cup and beer pong tournaments as well as parties with themes like “Anything But Clothes” and “Gender Bender.” Other world-renowned party hostels include Kabul in Barcelona, Spain; Balmer’s in Interlaken, Switzerland; Millhouse Hostel in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Flying Pig Downtown in Amsterdam, Netherlands; The Rising Cock Hostel in Lagos, Portugal; and Tekweni Backpackers in Durban, South Africa. Flying Pig
  30. 30. Chill Hostels Not all hostels are for partygoers. Some hostels have a very low-key, chill vibe. Unlike party hostels, these properties typically do not serve alcohol but instead promote socializing through a common room, TV room and kitchen. The common rooms have comfy couches and chairs that promote lounging, as well as other relaxing activities like video games and a book exchange. At Hostel of the Sun in Naples, Italy, you’ll always find backpackers snuggled up on the couch or melting into the plump beanbag chairs, playing Nintendo Wii and watching the latest movies. AlterNative Hostels in Cuenca, Ecuador features comfortable furniture, a relaxing balcony, a DVD library and calming colors to set the mood. Hostel of the Sun
  31. 31. Family-Friendly Hostels Although hostels started out as student accommodations, many hostels are designed for families. These hostels typically offer rooms large enough for groups with en suite bathrooms and self- catering kitchens as well as game and TV rooms for kids to enjoy. The Villa Saint Exupéry Gardens in Nice, France offers private, en suite rooms, onsite eateries, babysitting services and activities for the whole family like horseback riding, sailing, hiking, yoga and canyoning. Nadi Bay Resort in Fiji offers family apartments, a movie theater, day spa, two pools and island tours that cater to all ages. Villa Saint Exupéry
  32. 32. Beach Hostels Just like there are beachfront hotels, there are also beachfront hostels located right on the water. In Kokrobite, Ghana, you can stay at Big Milly’s Backyard, a laid-back, bamboo hostel on the beach with waterfront rooms, restaurants, bars and activities. Guests can browse crafts from local artisans, learn how to play the drums and take in a cultural dance and fire show on the weekends. In Sydney, Australia, stay at Coogee Beach House, located only 30 meters from Coogee Beach. And at Geko Hostel in Paraty, Brazil, enjoy beach access and complimentary breakfast in the sand. Geko Hostel
  33. 33. Eco Hostels Hostels aren’t just about socializing and saving money. Many hostels are committed to helping the environment and community through green practices and outreach programs. The Backpack in Cape Town, South Africa, is not only luxurious but also holds a Fair Trade in Tourism trademark. The hostel uses biodegradable cleaning products, recycles food waste to feed their worm farms, has a waterwise garden and runs a color-coded recycling program. It also supports local craftsmen with a community shop. ThePortlandHawthorneHostelinPortland, Oregon is another great eco-hostel, offering cheap bike rentals, a recycling and composting program and self-sustaining “ecoroof” that soaks up stormwater and returns it to a natural water cycle. Bonus: Guests arriving by bicycle get a $5 per night discount. Eco Resort Chiang Mai
  34. 34. Quirky Hostels Then there are those hostels that are just unusual. These hostels feature unique designs and one-of-a-kind experiences worth the trip alone. In Stockholm, Sweden, Jumbo Stay allows backpackers to get some shuteye in an airplane equipped with flat screen TVs and WiFi. Santos Express Train Lodge in Santos Beach, South Africa, is a train-style hostel. Other unusual hostels around the world include The Das Park Hotel drainpipe hostel in Ottensheim, Austria and the Auberge Griffon Aventure in Quebec, Canada, where you can sleep in a charming old fishing boat.  Jumbo Stay
  35. 35. How to Pack for a Hostel Light. The less you bring, the less you’ll have to worry about. A few strategic items will be very beneficial without taking up much space. Pack the right things, not everything. What to Pack for a Hostel Packing for a hostel is different than packing for a hotel. You’ll need a few extras you wouldn’t bring were you staying at another type of accommodation. If you’re planning your first stay at a hostel or forgot a few things during your last one, read on for a checklist of what to pack to make your stay comfortable. Steven Coutts
  36. 36. Passport:You can’t have too many reminders. Many hostels require you to show your passport at check in so make sure you can reach it easily. Toiletries: Most of the hotel amenities missing from a hostel are from the bathroom. Very few hostels provide toiletries like soap, shampoo, and lotions. Make sure to bring your own. If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, you can often buy toiletries at your destination cheaper than you can at home. Buying toiletries after you arrive will save you the hassle of packing carry-on- sized liquids and trying to get them through airport security. Travel towel: Hostels are split between offering towels for free (like a hotel), providing them for a fee, and not having them at all. Check your hostel’s policy before you leave. Ifyou’llbestayingatmultiplehostels,considerbringing a small travel towel. I recommend a microfiber towel that will dry quickly and can fold up very compactly. You can find travel towels on Amazon or at REI. Sean MacEntee drive by shooter Travel Towel
  37. 37. Padlock: Staying in dorms doesn’t provide much security. Most hostels offer private lockers so that you can store your stuff while you’re exploring a city. Make sure to check your hostel’s list of amenities to confirm this. You can rent a lock but will need to leave a deposit and pay a daily rental fee. Buying your own lock will pay for itself within a week. To avoid the extra weight, you can opt for a small, TSA-approved padlock. Buy a combination, not keyed, lock. Small keys are too easy to lose but don’t forget your combination. Eyemask and earplugs: Even if you have very quiet hostel mates, sleep aids can be helpful in a dorm, especially if you go to bed early. An eyemask and a set of earplugs can help you sleep when someone turns the lights on and stumbles in loudly at 5 a.m. Shower shoes: Whether you call them thongs or flip flops, they’re useful at keeping your feet clean in the shower. They’re also lightweight and easy to pack. Power converter and power strip: Each region has a different style of plugs and electric voltage. Do your research before you leave. If you’re only traveling to one country or within a region with the same style of plugs, you can buy a simple adapter for your electronics. For longer, multi- country trips, opt for a universal plug adapter that will work anywhere. Rather than buying a converter for each of your gadgets, you can buy one and pair it with a small power strip like the Belkin Mini Surge Protector. Mini Surge Protectorsputnik erules123 David Goehring
  38. 38. Unlocked smartphone: Mobile carriers’ international fees are still prohibitive. Use an unlocked smartphone and buy local SIM cards as you travel. Most importantly, you can use your smartphone on your hostel’s WiFi network. Hostels are way ahead of hotels in Internet connectivity. Nearly every hostel provides free WiFi. Bringing your own smartphone or tablet is more convenient than waiting to use one of the hostel’s (usually ancient) computers. Large hostels’ WiFi connections are slow and spotty when overloaded. If you need to get important work done or to have a Skype call that won’t be dropped, do it during the day when most guests are out of the hostel. It is also often possible to pay a few dollars to use an expensive hotel’s WiFi if you are in a country or area with extremely poor Internet download rates. Alpha
  39. 39. WhatNottoPack for a Hostel Valuables: Don’t make yourself a target for theft. Leave your jewelry, wads of cash, and priceless keepsakes at home. You’ll still enjoy your trip without them. You’ll travel lighter, both physically and mentally, because you won’t have to carry or worry about them. Electronics:Keep your electronics to a minimum. They take up space, attract thieves, and distract you from your trip. A smartphone can replace a laptop, iPod, point-and-shoot camera, and e-reader. An extra battery for your phone is more useful than another device. Tony McNeill Corey Marshall George Rex
  40. 40. Sink stopper and detergent: If you’re on an extended trip, you will need to do laundry either at your hostel or a nearby laundromat. Hand washing in a hostel sink is a great stopgap solution that allows you to pack lighter. You don’t need a dozen t-shirts if you can wash yours weekly. Detergent is easy to find anywhere so don’t pack and carry it. Sink stoppers are unnecessary for hand washing clothes. If you bring any soap, make it Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. This organic, fair trade soap can be used as body wash, detergent, and even toothpaste – and you only need a few drops for most jobs. When packing light for hostel traveling, try to make everything you bring multipurpose. Sleep sack: Sleep sacks are nice but unnecessary. If you’re worried about cleanliness, read hostel reviews to make sure you don’t stay anywheregross.Ifyou’recold,askforextrasheets. Some hostels even forbid outside linens because of hygiene issues (read: bedbugs).   Clean Wal-Mart Eli Duke Travel Sheet
  41. 41. In a hotel, having your own room means you can do as you please. A hostel’s shared living spaces mean you’ll need to be respectful of your roommates. Follow the hostel etiquette guidelines in this chapter to be everyone’s favorite guest. HowToBeAGoodHostelGuest morguefile
  42. 42. Respect Personal Space You’re sharing a dorm with other people. Your space is not the entire room. Your bed and locker are your personal spaces, so keep your belongings on, in or near them. You can’t be a slob at a hostel. Without daily maid service, you must clean up after yourself. Keep your stuff in your backpack, locker or suitcase. Limit In-Room Activities Playing guitar, drinking games, personal phone calls. Unless your roommates are joining you, these are not room activities in a hostel. There is always the common room if your roommates become an issue. Only Eat What’s Yours Hostels often have a community kitchen where you can store food that you’ve labeled with your name and check out date. Only eat your food or the food from the community cupboard (it will be labeled as so). Your hostel mate’s Brie cheese or fresh fruit salad may look good, but go buy your own.
  43. 43. Keep Common Spaces Tidy Nobody wants to see your dirty underwear or clean up your dinner plates. If you cook a meal in the kitchen, wash your dishes and any pots and pans you used. When you take a shower, clean up your dirty clothes as well as any hair, gunk or other unpleasantness. Which leads to… Wash Up You may feel great about the money you save on laundry by not washing your clothes but your roommates will surely not. You’re sharing a room. Other people have to smell you. And bathe and wash your clothes, especially if you want to make friends. Keep Your Shower Short You’re sharing a shower with other people who want to use it. While a hot, 45-minute shower in the morning may be nice for you, it’s inconvenient for everyone else wanting to start the day. Respect Sleep Schedules Some people are party animals who like to stay out late. Others live by the mantra “early to bed, early to rise.” You don’t have to change your sleeping patterns. Just be mindful that not everyone’s are the same as yours. If you enjoy staying out late, leave your pajamas and toiletries out on the bed before you go out, so you’re not rustling around in your bag at 3 a.m. Most importantly, don’t throw on the light switch and wake up everyone. Instead, carry a small flashlight with you or download a flashlight app on your smartphone. Early risers can be guilty of similar problems. If half the room is still sleeping, don’t throw open the curtains and put on your morning music. Be respectful of others’ schedules.
  44. 44. Pack the Night Before When you’re on the road, you will undoubtedly need to leave at 5 a.m. some mornings. Instead of packing up then and waking your roommates, get everything together the night before. You can grab your bags and hit the road without disturbing anyone in the morning. Be Social Meeting other travelers is part of the hostel experience. Youdon’thavetospend24/7talkingtoyourroommates, but being friendly with the staff and other backpackers is part of being a good hostel guest. Thinkofahostelasacommunity.Thelivingexperience is better if everyone gets to know each other. Once you do, you’ll also be more comfortable at the hostel. The Bottom Line Clean up after yourself, don’t wake people up, and get to know your hostel mates. If you do those 3 things, your roommates will love you and the hostel will beg you to come back. Being social is an important part of being a good guest. In the next chapter, we’ll discuss how to make friends at your hostel 
  45. 45. Hostels are great places to stay if you want to meet new people. The shared space of a hostel creates a friendly culture where anyone can talk to anyone else. Striking up a conversation over breakfast or inviting a stranger for a beer is totally normal. Whether you’re traveling solo or just looking to meet new people, here’s how to make friends at a hostel. How to Make Hostel Friends Barnacles Budget Accommodation
  46. 46. Stay at a Small Hostel Staying at a smaller hostel sounds counterintuitive. Why stay somewhere with thirty beds when you can stay at a giant hostel with hundreds of beds and people? Larger accommodations are more anonymous. With hundreds of people coming and going, you may never see anyone twice. At a small hostel, you’ll bump into the same people repeatedly and naturally get to know them. Stay in a Dorm A dorm ensures you are interacting with people constantly, not hidden away in a private room. You’ll make small talk with your roommates and become friendly after a few conversations. Hostels are like college dorms. Your roommates become the people you eat meals and go bar hopping with. Ari Helminen Barnacles Budget Accommodation
  47. 47. Don’t Sleep Through Breakfast Breakfast is a great time to make travel friends and to get ideas about things to do around the city. Guests choose food from a buffet then dine together at communal tables.You’llfallintoconversations about the food, where someone went out last night or what people are doing that day. Use the Kitchen Travelers can save money by making their own meals in the hostel kitchen. Everyone can chip in for a big meal and enjoy a community dinner, a common practice in hostels. Even if you cook your own meal, eating with the group makes starting a conversation and making new friends easy. Share Your Stuff Having something to offer is a great conversation starter. If you’re making spaghetti bolognese for dinner make extra and ask everyone else if they’d like some. Instead of buying wine just for yourself, offer to share the bottle. Giving is an easy way to win over your hostel mates TAke Part in Hostel- Organized Activities Hostels organize free and cheap activities to entertain guests and introduce them to the city. Walking tours, concerts, pub crawls, happy hours, pizza-making classes and comedy shows are just some of the events put on by hostels. Guests attend these events to save money, enjoy themselves and meet other people, so go ahead and do the same.
  48. 48. Organize Your Own Outing Don’t like the hostel’s itinerary? Organize an outing yourself. Post a note on the community hostel board (usually in the lobby) inviting other guests out to dinner, to go for a hike or to rent a car and drive somewhere for the weekend. Use word of mouth to get your invitation out. Having a planned activity is a great reason to talk to people. Mingle With the Staff Hostel staffers are often locals themselves or backpackers who fell in love with the city and didn’t want to leave. They’re a wealth of information and enjoy showing hostel guests around. Talk to the staff and ask where they usually go for dinner or to hear some music. Then ask them if they’d like to join you at one of these venues. Sherry Ezhuthachan
  49. 49. Jump in the Conversation Don’t be afraid to jump into others’ conversations. If you hear people talking about the Vatican and you just visited yesterday, or how they’re heading to Barcelona tomorrow and you are too, say something. Socializingwithstrangersispartofthehostelculture,sobutting into a conversation isn’t considered rude, it’s welcomed. Ask Questions People love talking about themselves and their travels. Asking others about their trip or for recommendations is sure to start a conversation.Fromthere,youcaninquireabouttheirupcoming plans and try to coordinate some sightseeing. La Pierre Roule
  50. 50. Ready for Your Trip? By now, you should know enough to confidently book your next (or first) hostel stay. If you have any questions, email us at When you’re ready to search for a hostel, download the WeHostels app. Happy Travels, The WeHostels Team