(photo: BASE Hostel, Magnetic Island, Australia)
Hostels are weird.
They are also one of the greatest experiences you can have whilst travelling. No matter where I go, however cheap a private room is, (or however infuriating it is to get down from a top bunk when you need to pee) I will always choose a dorm bed in a large mixed dorm. I encourage everyone to stay in a hostel for at least a few nights during their travels. They’re cheap, they’re social, and they can completely make a trip so much more fun. Here’s a couple of tips for hostel survival.
Stick to the bed you’re given = I know that it sucks to be on the top bunk, however don’t jump into someone else’s bed as soon as they leave. You have a bed. Be grateful. What’s the point in moving all of your shit 3 feet anyway?
Don’t turn on the lights after 11pm = Everyone seems to forget that some people live and work from hostels. If you arrive late and the lights are off, leave them off. And don’t stumble in having a drunken gossip with your new best friend, its rude. Go outside.
Share = Turn up with a pack of cards and a bag of goon (or whatever the countries equivalent. Cheap n’ nasty beer is always a good option). Speak to people, you wont believe how much you can have in common with people from around the globe. (Do remember though that not all hostels allow drinking in the bedrooms. Especially if it is a working hostel, maybe keep the fun and games to the group room).
Don’t have sex in the dormitory = Just don’t. Please. It’s creepy and horrible for everyone involved. It’s horrible for the other person sharing your bunk (personal experience: it’s like being seasick). It’s horrible for the rest of the room when they have to pretend not to hear your bed squeaking rhythmically (Seriously, hostel beds are So. Damn. Loud.). It’s also horrible for the culprits. I’ve witnessed a couple being woken by the entire room clapping, after their late night performance. Just go do it in the shower. At least there is a door.
Wear flip-flops in the shower = People do weird shit in the shower. See point above.
Be courteous = You all have to share this room. Be nice about it. Move your backpack out of the way. Keep things at the end of your bed so people don’t tread on them. Don’t leave your underwear dangling over the side of the bed (I’ve seen it, it’s not cool).
Don’t take over the plugs = In rooms of 20+, this is a sacrilege. (If you want to be popular, bring a multi-port.)
Be tidy = Again, you are sharing this room. Try to keep your stuff as packed together as you can. With people drifting in and out constantly, it’s easy for things to be misplaced. Also, if you have to leave early, just have your stuff ready the night before. Case zips are bloody load at 3am. So are plastic bags, FYI.
CLEAN YOUR OWN GOD DAMN DISHES = Seriously. Your mum didn’t come with you.
Be reasonable = People have to leave at different times. People have to start their day at 8am. As long as they try to keep quite or it’s after 8-9am, they can do what they like. Don’t be a dick about it just because you’re hungover.
Snoring = In a big room, you will always at some point have a snoring bunk-buddy. If you’re in a room of 15 and you don’t think you have one, you are probably the culprit. Don’t just sit there being pissy about it. Talk to them, maybe make a joke about it. Remember that you ALL have to share a room, and it’s no biggie. If you’re the culprit, try to avoid sleeping in positions that make it worse, or give one of your roomies permission to give you a poke if you start. I personally sometimes sleep talk when I am in new surroundings. As soon as I arrive I let people know that I do this from time to time, and they are quite welcome to throw things at me in the night if they think it’ll stop.
Alarms = We all have places we need to be. Most people use their phones on a lower volume and keep it with them on their bed, to turn it off right away. Some people manage to have an alarm on top volume, buried at the bottom of their bag, meaning they have to scramble about for 5 minutes trying to turn the damn thing off. I have had to literally turn off a strangers alarm before, because it was in their bag and (surprise) they didn’t even wake up. Don’t do it.
Hogs = Don’t hog the bathroom. Don’t hog the cookers. Don’t steal ANYTHING from anyone (I’m talking shampoo, food, alcohol). Seriously, it’s just about respect and common decency.
Don’t ignore the solos = It’s great if you went travelling with your friends, but don’t avoid everyone else. Just flash a smile to your bunk-buddy or introduce yourself to the guy who lent you his charger. Make an effort with the solo travelers. I’ve walked into a room full of people and not one of them has spoken to me. It sucks. Invite them in, there are plenty of things to share.
Be nice to the staff = I’ve stayed and worked in hostels. It’s weird hours with a lot of strangers and alcohol mixed in. Be nice. (They also usually know the cheap food/drink places nearby).