I still can’t believe that it’s 2017 and that I’ve already done my first trip of the year visiting Copenhagen! Make sure you check out some of my Copenhagen blog posts such as my Daily Vlogs and my Drone Montage – I think they’re pretty dope 👌🏼🎥
Whilst in Copenhagen, I stayed in a hostel called Urban House, and it was so sweet! So that got me thinking about blogs posts and I thought it was time to impart my knowledge of hostels onto the world and give some tips on what to pack for hostels and some advice for people staying in hostels for the first time. I’ve seen some bloggers write similar posts and title them “How to Survive Hostels!” and to me that’s a bit extreme, hostels are great, you just have to know what you’re letting yourself in for. So here it is – my 17 hostel tips for 2017!
Tip 1. Know what you’re buying
Hotels are easy. When you book at room at a hotel you know you’re going to get fresh sheets, clean towels and tiny shampoos that make you feel like a giant. Hostels? Not so much. Some Hostels are great, better than hotels, even, especially for young travellers. But some, however, aren’t too great. Know what you’re buying.
If the room costs only a couple bucks, expect only a couple bucks. Make sure you do your research before you set off on your trip, do you need to bring your own towel? Is Wifi included? Is breakfast included? Just, do you’re research. This also helps you know what to pack.
Tip 2. Pick a bottom bunk, or top – it’s your call
If you’re staying in a hostel for the first time, you might not know this debate. But you soon will. The age old debate, top bunk, or bottom? Both have their benefits, although I believe most prefer a bottom bunk – because who wants to have to climb up a ladder after a couple drinks?
Well, let me give you a scenario. You’re in bed, bottom bunk, in the mere moments before you drifting off into dreamland, in a state of bliss, contemplating how amazing your trip is and whether or not you have enough money in your bank account to move here indefinitely, and then all of a sudden the door opens. It’s the guy on the top bunk, and for the forthcoming 30 minutes you have to endure to bed rocking back and forth as he spends 30 minutes pulling himself up the ladder and rolling, wriggling, and curling up into a ball to avoid being sick…
The top bunk always disrupts the bottom bunk, at least if you’re on top, you can dictate the amount of disruption you cause to the bunk below.
Tip 3. Come shower-ready
Here’s the first of the hostel essentials. Bring a small towel, soap and shampoo, whether they say they are provided or not, as usually they aren’t. Also, make sure you bring a pair of flip flops. You’ll thank me later…
Tip 4. Bring earplugs and eye mask
Another hostel essential, sort of a no-brainer this one. You’re used to sleeping in your bedroom alone, or with you partner, where it’s quiet, dark, you control the surroundings. You want to turn a light on, go for it, it’s your room. You can’t do that in a hostel, you know you shouldn’t be that mean, but just because you know it, doesn’t mean someone will, or care. Make sure you bring earplugs and an eye mask so it’s nice and quiet and dark for when you want to get that shut eye.
Tip 5. Think before flipping the light switch
Echoing #4, don’t be the person to switch on the lights at 2am when you get in, or 4am when you have to leave to catch your flight. Just, don’t.
Tip 6. Dress in layers
Usually hostel rooms are pretty hot, when you’ve got 4 – 22 people packed into one room that should definitely only sleep half that number, it gets hot quick. Don’t pack your super warm onesie (are they even still a thing?). That being said, don’t expect it to be boiling, make sure you’ve got various layers to wear in bed so you can regulate your temperature dependant on the room.
Tip 7. Watch your valuables
This is a bit of a given, even in hotel rooms you should watch your valuables and use the safe in the room – it’s no different in a hostel, if anything, you need to be even more vigilant. If you have a locker in your room then use it, store all you valuables in there, and use the lock on your suitcase to prevent people from getting to your clothes and other items. And if you want to be super safe, keep your valuables on you.
Tip 8. Bring multiple locks of different sizes
There is no such thing as a universal locker for all hostels, so to make sure you can utilise the lockers provided at your hostel, if you have them, bring multiple locks and hopefully you’ll have on that fits. Saves you having to go down to reception and fork out some cash to buy one.
Tip 9. Maintain modesty
Thankfully us Brits are a fan on modesty. It’s our continental neighbours that perhaps need to stick to this one. As comfortable as you may be in your own skin, other might not be quite so comfortable seeing it… all of it.
Tip 10. Don’t be the messy one
Hey, I get it, we’re all messy at times. My room may as well be bipolar as it can easily flip from clean to a tip in a matter of minutes. But when you’re living with others in a small dorm, nows not the time to be messy. Keep all of you things confined to your locker, suitcase, towel hook and bed. Everything else is communal space, not yours. And if you do find you things elsewhere, don’t be surprised if you find it missing eventually.
Tip 11. Stay off your phone if people are trying to sleep
This is a personal pet peeve of mine. You might be okay having a bright blue light 6 inches from your face but I’m not okay with it, especially at 2am. Believe it or not smartphones are bright, really bright in fact, and there is a lot of bounce so almost the entire room can be filled by this cool blue glow. Not cool.
Tip 12. Bring a sleeping bag liner
Quite possibly the most essential item to take with you to hostels. But Matt, I’m not going camping – why would I need a sleeping bag liner? Well audience, good question. Consider the amount of people that have slept your bed, consider the integrity of those travellers to stay washed and clean, consider the potential 1 star rating… not all hostels provide linen, not all hostels are as hygienic as others, some are beautify kept and incredibly clean, but there are some bad hostels, in the event you find yourself in one of those bags ones, you’ll be grateful to be sleeping in a liner you know is clean.
Tip 13. Bring hand sanitiser
I don’t want you to think that hostels are bad experiences, hostels are great. But it’s good to take as many precautions as you can to stay hygienic. Using hand sanitiser is one of them.
Tip 14. Girls, perhaps consider a female only dorm
Now this is something I have no knowledge of, obviously. But from what I’ve heard women only dorms are a mixed bag, some girls I’ve spoken to think they’re great and that they can relax more and feel more comfortable in a women only environment, whilst others have said that the bitchiness level is through the roof. It’s your call, there is no wrong answer, choose whatever you feel you’ll be most comfortable with.
Tip 15. Embrace all that the hostel has to offer
For all you hostel newbies yet to stay in a hostel, you might think that your hostel is just where you sleep – but you are mistaken! Some hostels have got fantastic facilities! Many have communal kitchens, a great place to meet others and save money on food by cooking it yourself, some have gyms, bars, games rooms, chill out areas, and even a tattoo parlour?! (such as where I stayed at in Copenhagen). Your hostel is way more than just the place you sleep, you’re going to be living there for a couple days to a week, embrace it.
Tip 16. Don’t confine yourself to your dorm
This is similar to #15, but don’t let your dorm buddies keep finding you alone in your room, watching Netflix or YouTube too scared to go explore. You’re in a new city, foreign country, exploring is why you’re here. Yes it can be daunting going out somewhere new, especially if you’re a solo traveller, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, jump into the deep end, piss into the wind… all the motivational phrases. Jus go have fun.
Tip 17. Don’t be shy!
Lastly, and most importantly, don’t be shy. Even if you are naturally a shy person, I’m an introvert, I enjoy time to myself, but when it comes to it you have to be outgoing in hostels! Say hi to people in your dorm, meet people in the bar downstairs, organise doing things with new people you meet and you’re bound to make new friendships. This is the most important tip for when your staying in a hostel for the firs time. You just have to go for it, and enjoy it.
There we have it! My 17 hostel tips for 2017! What do you think? Useful for your next trip? Let me know in the comments down below! If you think I missed any off then comment or tweet me @mattstravelblog and let’s get talking!
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