An Insider’s Guide to Hostels: Do You Know Where You’re Sleeping Tonight?

While travelling abroad on a students’ budget, you should expect to stay at numerous hostels. If you’ve never stayed at a hostel before, there are some things you should know… they are very different from the holiday inns you might be accustomed to.

First, what is a hostel? Hostels, also called “backpackers’” in some countries, are places that offer affordable accommodation, usually with shared rooms and facilities. Many hostels will offer a range of rooms from a shared room with bunks holding up to 16 people (usually 4-8) that may be single sex or co-ed, to private or twin rooms that may be an ensuite. Most hostels will have a communal kitchen and common room. They are often similar to college dormitories. They can be a great place to meet people and get insider tips on where to go in the area.

We put together some helpful tips to keep in mind while travelling abroad, and
sleeping in strange beds…

Do your homework:
As with most things, the more you know, the better off you are. Hostel World, Lonely Planet and other guidebooks are a great start to find a hostel for your destination. Be sure to look them up online and try to find reviews, accurate rates and directions. We advise against staying anywhere with less than 80% rating.

When frugality becomes risky:
Hostels are cheap. BUT just because you’re on a budget, remember not to sacrifice safety for a few bucks. Don’t stay at any place where you feel uncomfortable just because it is the cheapest place in town! It might pay off to upgrade to a 4-person share rather than suffer through a night with 15 roommates! If you plan on staying in a lot of hostels, it will pay to get a Hostelling International Membership. This will give you discounts in all their partnered hostels. Another essential card
for student discounts is the International Student Identity Card .

What to eat:
There will most likely be a communal kitchen in every hostel you stay in. This means you can feed

yourself for cheap i.e. actually COOK a meal. We suggest GROUP MEALS, they cut down on costs
and are exponentially more exciting. Please remember, it’s not your mom’s kitchen, you have to CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF, and if you store anything in the fridge or on the shelves be sure to LABEL YOUR FOOD with your name, room number and date of check out. Many hostels have started to offer a continental breakfast (cereal, toast, peanut butter, vegemite, nutella, tea and coffee), and if you’re really lucky they might offer a soup supper!

Don’t let the Bed Bugs Bite!
Hostels are at a relatively high risk for Bed Bugs. We offer a few tips to avoid a very unpleasant nights’ sleep and minimize the risk of you carrying the little creatures to your next destination.
1. Before you sit or lay on your bed, check the mattress seams. Bed bugs are visible, contrary to popular belief, they like to hide in the seems of mattresses and only come out at night (the wee hours before dawn to be precise.)
2. Don’t put your bags on the bed. If the bed bugs feel like hitching a ride, they will do so in your bags, they especially like zippers.
3. Don’t use your sleeping bag. They will definitely set up shop and stay wit
h you for good. Some hostels prohibit sleeping bags for this reason.

Stay clean:
If all this talk about, well I won’t mention it here, has got you squirmy, take these tips to avoid excess germs:
1. Bring a camping or HOSTEL BEDSHEET and pillowcase with you.
2. Keep SHOWER SHOES with you.
3. Traditional towels are bulky, buy a compactable CAMPING TOWEL available at any outdoors store.
4. There will be COIN-OP LAUNDRY facilities, use them, you don’t want to be the smelly kid.

Lock it up!

As much as you may trust your hostel share-mates, it’s best to lock up your stuff. Most rooms will have lockers in them, but you must BRING YOUR OWN LOCK. For extra security they may have a safe at the front desk for small valuables such as your passport.

The Joys of Sleeping with Strangers:
Some people may try to be courteous, others will have no regard for you. We suggest EARPLUGS to help you sleep through noisy early birds, drunk night-owls and the lovebirds in between.

Enjoy hostelling around the world! Many hostels have common areas with TV’s or pool tables and some have a bar attached as well. It is truly the best place to meet fellow travelers who are always up for a good time!