Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (however affiliate links may be used, including Amazon Associates, which mean I earn commissions on purchases at no extra cost to you) and all thoughts are my own.
The photos above are from various hostels that I have stayed in, however all photos are taken from Hostel World and credit is given to the original authors… apparently I make too much mess to keep a hostel photo-worthy!
Last year I took my first solo trip and therefore experienced my first proper hostel experience (prior to this, I’d stayed in private rooms in hostels with friends). So, for anyone that’s a newbie on the scene like I was, this is your ultimate guide to what you can expect!
There are plenty of different types of hostel to choose from (as with hotels).
If you’re travelling style is to move from one party to the next, then a party hostel is where you will be happiest! Whilst party travelling isn’t my style, I’ve heard pretty mental things about Retox in Budapest.
If you want to stay in a cosy hostel where everyone socialises in the social area and has a chilled out vibe (my favourite), look for a smaller hostel. My favourites are the ones run by ex-backpackers, they know exactly what you will need! The Zeppelin Hostel in Ljubljana is perfect for this.
If you want a hostel that feels more like a hotel, try a large hostel. I stayed in the Generator Hostel in Copenhagen in a private room with friends and it felt just like being in a hotel! My friend referred to it as a “posh-tel”. The same goes for Safestay Edinburgh.
My favourite website to find hostels is Hostel World, make sure you read all of the reviews from fellow travellers to make sure your needs will be adequately met.
What To Pack
Staying in a hostel is very different to hotel and that starts with the things you need to bring!
A Padlock – I’m not ashamed to admit it, I made the ultimate rookie error on my first hostel experience – I forgot a padlock. Luckily, the hostel had a bunch spare that I could use for a small fee. This obviously wasn’t the strongest or most secure padlock but I was in a lovely little hostel and didn’t feel like my stuff was unsafe in the locker.
Flip flops – Flip flops will become your best friends in communal showers. You don’t want to get foot fungus from showering where so many people have already planted their dirty feet! Short of a) demanding the area be deep cleaned before every shower you have or b) not showering at all (that’s one way to not make friends in a hostel), flip flops are the only option!
Towels – This isn’t a five star resort, don’t expect animal sculptures on your bed made out of towels every night you arrive back at your room. In fact, don’t expect a towel at all. Once that towel is safely packed, you also then need to remember to actually take it to the shower from your dorm room! I did have to rescue a traumatised Belgian girl who had got into the shower without remembering to pick up her towel… I think I’m safe in saying she probably didn’t make that mistake again.
Ear plugs – I’m not a fan (I’m sure my ear holes are smaller than the average human, those plugs just don’t co-operate with me), but if you struggle sleeping, I’d recommend ear plugs! You never know what kinds of snorers will be in your dorm!
Toiletries – As well as the towels, make sure you always bring your own toiletries, you won’t be getting any freebies! And remember to pick them up when you leave the shower, or someone will be quick to snap them up! Don’t fret though, normally the hostels have a big box of toiletries that have been left behind. If there’s something you’re desperately in need of, you could be in luck!
Sanitary Items – You might also want to pack some tissues and hand sanitiser – the best hostels will always make sure the toilets are well-stocked but you might be caught out!
A Few House Rules
Ditch The Introvert Side To You – I get nervous in a lot of situations, I am by no means the most confident person in the world. But if you’re going to make the most of your time in a hostel, don’t let nerves get to you. You get that booty into the common room and chat to people, I guarantee you are bound to make life-long friends.
Staying Up Late – This won’t really be an issue if you’re in a party hostel, but if you are in a quiet hostel, be a bit considerate when you come fumbling back into your room late at night. But by all means, go on that pub crawl, have the time of your life, you’re only young once.
Early Mornings – On the other hand, you don’t want to be the person bashing through their bags early in the morning. This was me once and I haven’t yet forgiven myself for it! I was in a top bunk and accidentally dropped my TINY locker key to the floor at 7am in the dark and I had to be on a tour at 8am. At first, I thought it was in the bunk below me, so had to sneakily rummage through a guy’s bed while he slept. He woke up and helped me (without asking too many questions). Big shout out to that guy – you’re a legend.
Don’t Be a Snob – If you will only settle for 5 star luxury accommodation, it’s probably best to steer clear of hostels. If you come in with the wrong attitude, you’re destined not to like it.
Clean Up After Yourself – A number of hostels have a communal kitchen area, and a lot offer a free breakfast each morning. Usually it’s a “do it yourself” breakfast – make sure you clear away all of your used cutlery/crockery – nobody wants to be cleaning up after you!
Have The Time of Your Life – You love travelling, you’re surrounded by other people that love travelling. Everyone has the common mentality to have the time of their life. Yes, I have plenty of friends and family that I could travel with, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and meeting new people from all over the world will be an experience you never regret!
Now, this isn’t a complete bible on how to act/pack when staying in a hostel. But it can be a pretty daunting prospect (I know plenty of people who swear they will never do it!), so hopefully this post helps somewhat!
Have you ever stayed in a hostel, what was your first experience like?
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