10 Tips for your First Time Hostel Experience

Hostel First Time
Hostels are an inexpensive way of traveling the world and are a great way to meet a community of like-minded people. However, it can be daunting to stay in a hostel for the first time! You’re sleeping in a room of bunk beds with people you don’t know! But fear not! I’ve put together a list of tips for your first time in a hostel to make it as easy and stress free as possible:

  1. Come in with an open mind: you will meet people with very different and interesting life styles from yours, so have an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Also be prepared for people to ask you lots of questions. You tend to get people’s whole life story that you meet in hostels and people will be asking you the same questions, so be open and honest with them in return. Everyone just wants to learn more about the world and all the different people living in it. Remember to be kind and courteous, but it’s completely okay to be curious!

  2. Talk with people: If you are traveling by yourself, don’t be afraid to go up and sit down with a group of people. Chances are they all just met each other a few days ago or a few hours ago and would love to add more people to the group! And if they are a group of friends that knew each other before, they are also looking to meet more people otherwise they probably wouldn’t be staying in a hostel! The best part of staying in a hostel are the people that you meet, so you really have to force yourself to just walk up to someone and start a conversation. The first few times can be kind of scary, but once you realize that everyone there was just waiting for someone else to make the first move, it gets so much easier to be the first person to strike up a conversation.

  3. Put your pajamas and toothbrush at the TOP of your bag: You will inevitably come back to the room later than someone and they will already be asleep. Instead of rustling through your bag for 20 minutes in the dark and trying to be as quiet as possible (you will never be as quiet as you think you are) put your toiletry bag and your pajamas at the top. Seriously, this is the one thing I always do when I pack now. Makes life so much easier and makes your room mates like you so much more!

  4. Bring a small flashlight: Or have the flashlight app on your phone. Again you will come in late at night and you won’t want to turn on the over head light. Just be sure you don’t shine it directly in your bunk mates face by accident… not that I’ve ever done that… woops.

  5. Shower shoes!!!!: This is a MUST. Some hostels are beautiful and it won’t be a big deal if you don’t have shoes to wear in the shower. However, when you inevitably stay at a hostel with a questionable bathroom you will want shower shoes. Especially if you are traveling in South East Asia where the shower is often in the same stall as the toilet and when everything gets wet from the shower you can’t help but to question whether the wet patch is really just water.

  6. Bring a jacket: Hostels will never be the temperature you want them to be. Always bring a jacket and warm socks that you can put on when your sleeping. Most of the times hostels will be too hot, but there is always the hostel that cranks up the air conditioning at night and gives you a tiny sheet to sleep with. This will be the moment when having a jacket and socks to put on will save you.

  7. Choose a social hostel: When you are looking for a hostel check the reviews for ‘great atmosphere’, ‘good common room’, and ‘easy to meet people’. Also look for smaller hostels. The smaller they are the more community vibe there is. This means its really easy to meet people. Some hostels just aren’t set up for meeting people if the common room is too small (or if they don’t have a common room at all). However, remember to not read too much into the reviews. Most of the bad reviews are just people being assholes, so take it all with a grain of salt.

  8. Be prepared to be woken up in the middle of the night if you are a light sleeper: Remember you are sleeping in a room with strangers who have different sleep patterns than you. If you want an uninterrupted nights sleep, don’t book in at a hostel. Now its not impossible to get an uninterrupted nights sleep at a hostel, but it is less likely. Be prepared for it and don’t get upset when it happens. Most people are doing there best to keep quiet, but sometimes its just not possible. Every once in a while you will get the asshole who just has no regard for everyone in the room, so in those instances don’t be afraid to ask them to be quiet. If your a light sleeper bring ear plugs and a sleep mask to make it easier to fall asleep.

  9. Bring a towel: This is especially true for South East Asia. I got away with not having a towel while backpacking through Europe since most either provide it or you can rent one for a small fee. However, this is not the case in most places in Asia. I use this towel and it’s worked really well for me so far.

  10. Check your bed for bed bugs: Now I admit that I do this maybe 10% of the time and so far I have been lucky. I’ve never gotten bed bugs, but it’s a good habit to get in to because bed bugs are really hard to get rid of especially when everything you own is in a cloth backpack. Very frustrating.

Just remember to have fun! Hostels are a cheap and fun way to see the world. You will meet some amazing people and friends that you will keep in touch with for a long time, so don’t be afraid to talk with people and latch on to another group of travelers!

What’s been your favorite hostel experience? Did I miss any tips?

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