Budget travelers the world over have been happily using hostels for decades to save money on accommodation. But if you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, you might be confused about what to expect. Is everyone in a hostel under the age of 25? Does staying in a hostel mean you have to bring your own sleeping bag with you everywhere? Do hostel bathrooms all have communal gym-style showers?
If any of those questions has you freaking out about the idea of staying in a hostel, rest assured the answers to all of them is “no.” But the fact that those questions sometimes comes up just shows how many misconceptions there are about hosteling. What’s more, even people who are accustomed to staying in hostels sometimes forget basic rules of etiquette.
The good news is that there are a number of great articles out there that teach hostel newbies all about what to expect from hosteling, and several more that remind hostel veterans how people in a hostel should behave so that the experience is a pleasant one for everyone.
Here are some of the most helpful hosteling articles we’ve found.
- To hostel or not to hostel? – Although many budget travelers wouldn’t stay anywhere else, we know hosteling isn’t for everyone. Here’s an article on why hosteling is great, and another on why you might not like hosteling.
- Debunking the Myths of Hostels – The BootsnAll hostels section is a wealth of information (if we do say so ourselves), including this great list of common myths people who have never stayed in hostels believe.
- Hosteling FAQ – Another helpful article for newbies is this list of FAQs about hosteling and about booking hostels online.
- What makes a good hostel? – Obviously this is going to depend on your personality a bit, but these are some things that tend to make everyone happy upon checking in. Nomadic Matt also has an article on how to pick a good hostel, with the things he looks for when he’s traveling (which is all the time).
- 8 Things that Separate Great Hostels from Average Hostels – Along the same lines, many long-term travelers end up with a wish list of things that their favorite hostels tend to have. This is one traveler’s list of things he’d include in a hostel if he were to open one – and it might help you pick the better hostels for your trip.
- Hostel Safety Tips – Hosteling is, for the most part, really safe (otherwise people wouldn’t keep doing it year after year), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared to assure the safety of your self and your stuff. This isn’t meant to scare you, it’s meant to prepare you!
- Hostel Etiquette – Honestly, most of the things on articles about how to behave in hostels should be self-explanatory. They could probably be boiled down to, “Don’t be an ass.” But since many people obviously aren’t capable of not acting like an ass in hostels, maybe you should do some reading. This amusing list of the 10 Hostel Commandments is worth a look, too.
- Hosteling With Kids – Never thought of hosteling with kids? This traveling parent is here to tell you that it’s not only a money-saving option, it’s a great way to introduce kids to different cultures.
- How to Make Friends at a Hostel – Hostels are great for solo travelers because there’s usually a ready-made group of like-minded people around to hang out with. But what if you’re a little shy? These tips to making friends at hostels should help.
- How to Survive Hosteling – Even if you love staying in hostels, sharing a bedroom with 8 other people can be a drag after awhile. This article offers some tips on how to avoid the drag without avoiding hostels.
- How to Wash Clothes in the Sink – Not that this is a task you’ll only ever need to do in hostels (especially when so many of them have laundry facilities nowadays), but just in case – it’s good to know how to get the job done.
- How to Make a Hostel Dinner – It’s not quite as simple as “do what you’d normally do at home,” since you’re dealing with a foreign kitchen and (likely) foreign foods. This article has the major things you’ll want to keep in mind, plus a few quick and easy recipes as well.
- Tips for Staying in a Hostel – Again, your top tips may be slightly different than these top tips, but it’s a good list to start from (especially if you’ve never stayed in a hostel before).
- Hotels Are For Tourists – Or so says one BootsnAll contributor. This article gives a good overview of what to expect in hostels, and why backpackers love them.
- Things I Learned While Working in a Hostel – You might not think of hostels as a place to work at first, but many long-term travelers end up working in them from time to time to help extend their travels. This is a humorous list of 12 things one former hostel employee learned at her job.
- Hosteling History – Hosteling originated in Europe, so it’s not surprising that’s where it’s still hugely popular. This article offers a brief history of hosteling, plus some tips on what to expect at hostels in Europe.
- What to Pack for Hosteling – Most of what you’ll pack for a hosteling trip will be the same as for any other trip, but there are a few items you probably wouldn’t bring if you were staying in a hotel. This article lists 5 essential items for hosteling, and this one has 5 suggestions for “luxury” items for hosteling.
photo by Barnacles Hostels