Any budget traveler worth his or her salt will, at some point, stay in a hostel. If you’ve never experienced one before, it may be shocking to you. It can be a bit like summer camp…rowdy, chaotic, and some will undoubtedly have a problem with personal hygiene…having said that, I’ve always loved summer camp so it doesn’t really bother me, especially since you can easily get around the more distasteful sides of hostels.
- First of all, if you get to a hostel and have a bad feeling about the place, leave. I know, I know, not ground breaking, but you’d be surprised how often people ignore this obvious solution. Maybe it’s not convenient to find another hostel, maybe you met people that are staying there, maybe you’ve prepaid (not recommended) and are loathe to lose your deposit. Whatever, if you get there and something is giving you the heeby-jeebies, just leave.
- Bring earplugs. I suggest investing in a few pair of quality earplugs. The cheap ones make my ears hurt (I’ve got narrow ear canals), a condition that causes headaches, and unsurprisingly, make it hard to sleep. Earplugs are a great way to get the quiet of a private room (if not the privacy) without the cost.
- A top bunk. I pretty much always pick a top bunk for several reasons. Fans tend to be placed higher up so better airflow. Also, I like to pull my belongings up on the bunk with me, particularly if the storage provided looks a little dicey. The only time I go with a lower bunk is if there are no top bunks (duh) or if there are no fans and it is extremely hot (hot air rises, another duh).
- Ask the manager of the hostel if you can be put in the most empty hostel room. The worst they can do is say no. This is not a step I usually take, but if you are a very light sleeper and don’t want to pay for a private room, you might want to try it.
- If you have room in your pack, you might want to consider investing in a sleep sack. You may get cold easily and want an extra layer, or maybe you just want an extra layer between you and that questionable cot. Regardless, there are sleep sacks out there that weigh very little and roll up into a tiny ball.
- You definitely want to invest in your own washcloth and towel. On the off chance the hostel does provide these, I still wouldn’t use them. It skeeves me out even more than using the sheets provided. I recommend spending a little more for a lightweight quick-dry version of your basic towel and washcloth…especially useful in very humid places that make fabrics prone to mildewing.
Ok, that’s it for now! I’ll add to this list as I think of things! Stay strong and travel on!