9 Tips to Make Your Hostel Stay More Enjoyable

Aside

Staying in a hostel, especially for the first time, can be a very intimidating experience.  Here are some tips that many hostel veterans commonly employ to make their stay as enjoyable as possible.

  1. Bring your own towel.  Many hostels charge a small fee to use a towel that they provide.  Bring your own to not only save a few dollars but to ensure it is clean.

    my favorite microfiber travel towel

http://www.amazon.com/MICRONET-Microfiber-Towel-Blue-Large/dp/B001GXRXXC/ref=sr_1_5?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1350959997&sr=1-5&keywords=travel+towel

2. Bring an extra sheet.  There is one way to ensure you are sleeping on clean sheets, bring your own.  Travel Sheets are small when rolled but provide huge peace of mind for their price.  No matter how clean or sketchy the hostel, you know where the fabric touching your body has been.

Image

Awesome travel sheet, like a really thin sleeping bag.

Here is a link to my favorite Cocoon Brand Travel Sheet: http://www.amazon.com/Cocoon-Flannel-TravelSheet-Twilight-86-Inch/dp/B001DXC664/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1350959699&sr=8-10&keywords=cocoon+travel+sheet

3. Choose room style wisely.  All male? All female? Mixed? Big or Small? There are a variety of choices to be made when choose a room in your hostel.  If you are a female traveling alone, it is usually wise to bunk in an all girls room. Large rooms with lots of beds can be fun, but you are also more likely to encounter people coming in really late, rising really early, snoring, etc.

4. Bring an Ipod, earplugs, or noise cancelling headphones. You never know what type of roommates you will get. Bring some sort of device to hide or mask noise if you are not a hard sleeper.

5. Bring shower shoes.  Since most hostels have shared bathrooms, you are never quite sure what you are going to encounter.  Bring a pair of sandals to wear in the shower to be cautious.

6. Prepare for all conditions.  No matter what climate your hostel is located in, bring something to sleep and lounge in for very hot and cold conditions.  Sometimes places overcompensate for the outside conditions, so it is nice to have options.

7. Leave valuables behind.  When possible leave anything you would miss if it got stolen at home. Most of the time, if you don’t touch other people’s belongings they won’t touch yours, but why take the risk.

8. Bring a lock.  Better safe than sorry, lock up your valuables when you are out of your room.  Some hostels offer lockers, but make sure to pack a padlock and/or computer lock if you bring expensive items.

9. Make friends.  One of the best parts of hostels is the social aspect.  Get out in the common room and get to know your bunk mates! They usually have great advice.

Advertisements

Hostels vs. Hotels

So you are considering a hostel instead of staying in a hotel, but why choose a hostel? Are there any benefits over staying in a hotel? There are a few differences that can help you decide whether it is a better choice to book a hostel or a hotel.

What is a hostel? When you book a hotel, you book a room. When you choose to stay in a hostel, you book a bed.  You are literally reserving the spot in which you will stay instead of the room.  This typically means that there will be other people in your room that reserved the other available beds.

What are the benefits of  staying in a hostel?

  1. Cost. The number one selling point of hostels is the price. I have stayed in multiple hostels for under $15 a night, which is significantly cheaper than many hotels.  There is often the misconception that hostels are dirty and much trashier than hotels.  This is not necessarily true.  Hostels are rated like hotels on sites such as hostelworld.com.  I have stayed in 4 and 5 start hostels that are as nice as some of the best hotels.  Since hostels are aimed toward the budget conscious traveler, they often include things such as guest kitchens where you can cook and discounted tours or attractions, especially for students.
  2. Social scene. If you stay in a hotel, you are isolated in your room.  Hostels are social settings and you are bound to meet other travelers that are sharing your room.  Additionally, almost every hostel has a common room or some type of lounge to encourage social interaction between residents; many even have bars attached.  I have met some amazing people in hostels who are usually like minded travelers ready to share stories.
  3. Hostel Staff.  The majority of the staff members I have talked with in hostels are younger people who love to travel.  They almost always have great advice, both on the local area and other destinations.  Particularly perfect for people who want to experience local culture, their suggestions are usually more off the beaten path than a concierge who often names the top tourist spots.
  4. Location.  Since hostels typically house a fewer number of residents than hotels, their location options are greater.  There are many hostels situated in restored historical buildings, big houses, old prisons, campsites, castles, etc.  

What are the cons of hostels?

  1. Bad roommates.  There have been a couple times when I have had to share a room with a particularly stinky guest, someone who snores, etc.  I will say these times are outweighed by the times I have met awesome people, but keep in mind you have no say in who is in your room, it is just the luck of the draw.  One night my friends and I returned to our hostel and found a guy that had crawled into my friend’s bed instead of his own. Awkward.  These usually make for good war stories though.
  2. Amenities.  It is common for a hostel not to provide towels for guests without an additional fee. Likewise, they may give you sheets when you check in to make your own bed.  If you are looking for added amenities and special treatment, hostels are probably not your best choice.
  3. Privacy.  Hostels are created to form a community.  The atmosphere is often much more relaxed and less formal than a hotel.  With this in mind, guests may stay up late talking loudly, you will be sharing a community bathroom, and you better get used to changing clothes in front of strangers.

Hostels can be an excellent option especially if you are looking for location character and travel buddies.  Just be cautious to do your research first. Below are some pictures from hostels I have stayed in, both costing a little more than $20 USD a night.

Awesome hostel in Marrakesh, Morocco we stayed in.

Adorable hostel in Budapest, there were also stuffed animals around the bathroom.