I’m no stranger to a hostel or two.. In fact at this point i’ve probably stayed at well over 100. So here is my guide to hosteling, what you should expect and my top tips on how to prepare yourself for a trip staying in hostels!
Choosing that perfect hostel
People often share this misconception that hostels are dirty, there is no privacy and everyone just wants to get drunk and be crazy loud. Well it’s not (always) the case. It all depends on what you want and you can determine that by doing your research before you book. Checking out the Hoscars is a great place to start. You can learn about all the best hostels all over the world as they are rated by category and all sorts in a yearly run down of the best hostels.
I always book through Hostelworld. They have a great app that puts all your bookings in one place. My past bookings go as far back as 2013! It’s a great way of keeping track of your itinerary and leaving reviews as you go if you wish.
When choosing I decide using a combination of top rating vs best location. I try go for hostels that are lively and look to have events going on frequently so that I have more chance of meeting people. I choose mixed dorms because I tend to get on with the opposite sex more in general and I choose the largest dorms to enable me to meet more people! These are also the cheapest rooms which is an added bonus.
What is it like sharing a room with strangers?
It sounds awful, I know. But it is not at all! Sure you’re going to have annoying people in your room sometimes but that’s the luck of the draw. People will snore so earplugs are a lifesaver. People will turn the lights on at stupid o clock, that’s what eye masks are made for. Soon enough you’ll get so used to the little things that come in handy when travelling that you’ll have your own little ‘Hostel bag’ that you can’t travel without.
But sharing a room also opens you up to the possibility of meeting friends for life! In Singapore I met a guy from New Zealand who had just left his home country for the first time. I met him at the first leg of his trip ready to explore South East Asia. We ended up hanging out most days and I still keep up with his adventures via Instagram 2 years later! I’ve met some of the best people in dorm rooms and often they will make your trip even better than you could ever have expected.
How will I meet people?
Well besides getting to know the people in your dorm room, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! It is the best way to meet people. If there is an event going on at the hostel, maybe a bar crawl or a walking tour or even a cooking class – get yourself to it! This is the best place to meet people as you’ll find a lot of solo travellers attend these events also to meet people just like you! The common area is also a great place to meet new people. This is where you will play games, have drinks and get to talking to those who are wanting to stay in and chill with fellow travellers.
Always check the hostel fine print
When choosing a hostel I always ensure there is a common area. Believe it or not, some hostels don’t have one! So ensure you’re reading all the descriptions when booking. Be careful to check for curfews and kitchen closing times. This can be a real downer if you’re hoping to hang out with people at the hostel rather than go out but suddenly can’t due to strict hostel rules! I’ve been caught out by this before and it really hindered my opportunity to get to know anyone unfortunately.
When backpacking there are some things that I ensure I never forget! Here are the things you’ll never catch me travelling without –
Eye mask – Because nobody likes bright lights when you’re trying to sleep!
Earplugs – Block out those nightmare noises.
Sturdy padlock – For locking your stuff away when there is no keycard provided.
Sarong – I use this to hang from the bed above. It blocks me in and gives me a little privacy. Also comes in handy as a blanket if the hostel is cold. Alternatively, you might actually use it as a sarong on the beach!
Flip flops – For the shower because you never know..
Travel pillow – Extra comfort. Comes in handy when the hostel pillows are flat as a fart or when you just can’t get to sleep on those long journeys.
Mini book light – This comes in really handy as a mini torch when you don’t want to wake everyone up. Also good for actually reading if you’re old fashioned enough (like me) to not yet have converted to a Kindle!
Sweets – Great on public transport mostly but for me I always tend to get a bit of a sore throat whilst staying in hostels. Sweets take that scratchy feeling away.
I have had an absolute blast during my time travelling the world via hostels. I’ve stayed in hostels across four continents including North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. I have favourites in all continents and hostels differ widely from country to country surprisingly. I have definitely enjoyed staying in some more than others but I have always managed to meet people at each place. Below are some of my absolute favourites!
(Where I have mentioned the hostel previously on my blog I have included a link to my post – Just click on the name below!)
Naughty Squirrel – Riga, Latvia (Stayed March 2015)
And special mention to the following hostels also..
Hostel Ani & Haakien – Rotterdam (Stayed Nov 2015)
Wombats Hostel – London (Stayed March 2015)
Check out my previous post about why nothing beats hostels when solo travelling here.