7 Things You Need to Know Before Staying at a Hostel

This semester, I’m studying abroad in Prague (aka home to the world’s finest breweries). So far, I’ve visited Vienna and Budapest and at both locations, I stayed in a hostel. For those who may not be as familiar, hostels are essentially low-cost accommodations shared among a group of people. I haven’t quite mastered the art of hostels yet, but I’ve figured out a few tips that have helped me get through. If you plan on traveling and want to save some cash, (perhaps meet some fellow travelers), I would definitely recommend trying out a hostel. Just make sure to check out the following tips below:

1. Bring flip flops

This is one of THE most important tips. Let’s face it, communal showers are gross. Luckily, it’s something I never had to experience in college (thanks, NYU), but if you’re staying in a hostel, you’ll probably have to deal with them. Bring flip flops for showering to be safe. It’s also convenient if you want to walk around the room or the rest of the hostel (with clean feet.)

2. Splurge on a room with fewer people

Most hostels have a variety of room types you can pick from. You can typically choose among a single, quad, or even a room with six or eight people. In Vienna, I went with a friend and we decided to live in a quad. Being honest, there wasn’t much of a big difference, and I still paid only $35 for two nights. If you’re going to be actively running around a new city all day, you’ll want to get a good night’s sleep. That gets trickier when you factor more people into the equation.

3. Make sure you can sleep

Regardless of the number of people in your room, you should keep in mind that you may be stuck with people who are jet-lagged, insomniacs, etc. It’s wise to be prepared for the worst. Bring an eye mask or earplugs/headphones to guarantee a peaceful night of rest.

4. Pick the bottom bunk

Most hostels have bunk beds. If you can, take the bottom bunk. Just do it. Whether you’ve had something to drink or not, dealing with those shaky ladders at the end of the day gets pretty irritating.

5. Be careful with your belongings

The hostels I’ve stayed in had lockers in the room. Even if you have to pay for a locker, do it. Or even pack a lock and lock your stuff in your bag. People in hostels might seem nice and trustworthy, and they may truly be, but it’s prudent to be safe. (Especially when you’re traveling with critical items like your passport and wallet). I accidentally left my locker open in the room for a whole day (and luckily nothing was stolen), but I could have been in a really sticky situation.

6. Pack wisely

Instagram: @gabrielleassaf

Unlike hotels, hostels won’t provide you with shampoo, conditioner, or even a towel. You should be able to buy most things at a good price at the front desk, but if you’re picky about your toiletries, you might want to just pack travel sized bottles of your favorite products.

7. Take advantage of what the hostel have to offer

Most people staying in hostels are young, vibrant, and energetic people from around (literally) the world. A lot of hostels even have age limits, so you’ll rarely encounter people much older than yourself. Hostels typically have bars and offer complimentary group tours too, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to socialize whether you’re traveling alone or not. Not much of a social butterfly? At least try to make conversation with some of the people working there.They tend to have commendable advice about things to do nearby.

Traveling is an unbelievable way to experience new things and grow as a young adult, so wherever you may journey, do make the most of it.

Image credit: 1 / 2 / 3 /