Hostel How-To: Read This Before You Start Packing

[ 0 ] January 20, 2014 |

Hostels can be a great money saver and an easy way to hop from city to city while traveling. The people working in hostels are usually gushing with good tips for the area, and often, hostels act as mixers for travelers. Even if you aren’t sharing a room with others, hanging out in the common areas inevitably means meeting fellow travelers and maybe some new friends (also a great way to find people taking the same tours and splitting costs!) I’ve even stayed in hostels that gave away free shots to promote making happy acquaintances. Sometimes though, there can be some unexpected pitfalls during your hostel stay. Here are some tips for dodging those bullets:

Cash in small bills. This may sound like part of a ransom note, but sometimes in hostels linens are an extra charge, extra blankets and towels also cost extra. Also expect to pay for laundry, and leave a deposit for the keys.

A towel. While it is possible to travel without one, it is much easier to have a towel of your own. It doesn’t have to be huge, but enough to keep you from turning the bathroom into a puddle. Travel towels are great since they are thin, dry quickly and are lightweight. Somehow I once survived a couple weeks without a towel, I don’t know how I did it and don’t recommend it.

Flip-flops or sandals. The shower situation in your hostel could fall anywhere on the bathroom spectrum. Expect to be sharing a bathroom, and don’t expect things to be cleaned all the time. It is always smart to wear shoes in locker rooms. Think of hostel showers the same way and protect your feet–besides, you never know how far you’ll have to walk from your room to the shower.

Soap. You won’t be given tiny bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion as in a hotel. If you want soap for your shower, you’d better bring some. It will also come in handy as hand soap; I’ve found that very few public bathrooms around the world provide hand soap. Little bottles of liquid soap are refillable and easy to pack.

Toilet paper. As with soap, don’t expect bathrooms to provide you with toilet paper. There is a good chance there will be some, at some point, but whether or not that coincides with when you gotta go isn’t a chance I want to take. I’m not suggesting you carry a roll around with you, but a travel pack of tissues can come in really handy. (This is especially true in countries where toilet paper isn’t the norm, as in India.)

Food. Another great money saver while traveling is not eating out. Hostels will have some kind of kitchen for use; they usually include all the appliances you could need, and the offer of fridge space, just know that what you put in the fridge might not be there later. As well, some kind of breakfast is usually offered, check though if this breakfast is an extra charge and then stock up on those individually wrapped muffins for later.

Locks. When staying in a hostel, the cheaper rooms are shared rooms. This is a great way to meet people, but it also means leaving your things unattended. Some hostels provide lockers, but not all. If you don’t want to carry around a pad lock, maybe bring a small luggage lock to put on your bag while you’re out exploring. Better safe than sorry when you don’t know just how many people have keys to the room or when they may be coming and going.

In general, just remember that hostels are not hotels.

Photo courtesy of book.hosteltimes.com

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Category: Sage Content, Travel Tips

About the Author ()

Paige has been traveling around for a few years now, though she's been sticking primarily to the Iberian Peninsula and the West Coast of the States. She grew up outside of Seattle and went to school in the city, so for now, that’s home.

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