WHAT IS A HOSTEL? + 10 TIPS WHEN YOU ARE SLEEPING IN A HOSTEL FOR THE FIRST TIME!

Why do we like hostels so much when we are backpacking? 1. It is often cheap, dorms certainly and private rooms sometimes too. 2. You usually meet other backpackers quickly. 3. You can cook in Hostels yourself, as there is often a communal kitchen. 4. From your hostel often fun excursions or activities are organized, so you can get to know a place even better 5. Most hostels are in ideal locations. Okay there are also a few drawbacks, but if you want to travel the world on a small budget, hostels are the ideal place to stay.

What is a Hostel?

According to Wikipedia is a hostel “a youth hostel, a cheap accommodation for overnight stay connected to Hostelling International or another cheap accommodation for overnight stay”. Van Dale calls it “Hostel: hotel or guest house, especially for young people or students.” Not really broad descriptions, but it covers the cargo somewhat.

10 tips for when you first sleep in a hostel

Are you going to stay overnight in a hostel for the first time? Then check this list:

1. A bag is not a luxury to take with you ( check here the complete backpackers packing list ), not every bed is provided with clean sheets 
2. Take your own towel, because unlike hotels you do not always get at a hostel 
3. Always check if there is free breakfast! And if there is, do not expect too much … white bread with peanutbutter jelly anyone? Oh and another tip: Do not leave too late if there is breakfast, otherwise the chance that half is already gone. 
4. Do you have a lonely moment? Go chill in the common room, chances are you make new friends 
5. If there is somewhere that it is an 8-person room then that really means that they will rent each of the 8 beds each
6. Ask at the reception if they have nice tips for the destination where you are, guaranteed that they know nice things and usually they also have a free map (handy!) 
7. Do you prefer to sleep only with women or men? Always ask yourself whether the dorm you want to book is only for chicks or for boys, the organization does not necessarily take into account who sleeps with whom. You can also get a thick hairy old man with tattoos above you 
8. If you do not think your hostel is really clean and there are several hostels nearby, always check the rooms first … Sometimes you can get to the weird places being tucked away and you do not always feel like it. 
9. Take a small lock with you when you go to sleep in a hostel (preferably TSA so you also have it for theyou can use flight bag from your backpack if you are flying), this can be useful if there are lockers. Often there are lockers without a lock and then you can use your own. 
10. Are you going to cook in your hostel? Always check the leftovers in the fridge or pantry, sometimes leaving other backpackers behind that you can use for free. This way you can suddenly put grated cheese over your pasta, instead of just tomato sauce or ketchup!

How do you behave in a hostel?

Honestly? Just very simple, social. Sleeping in a hostel is perhaps the most social way to spend the night. All of a sudden you live with dozens of strangers in a house, who often have the same attitude as you and your new travel companion can just sit there. It is therefore not at all strange to just have a chat. If you’ve never spent the night in a hostel, you might think it’s a big deal, but to be honest, it’s just a big building with friendly travelers. Do not make it any more difficult than it is in your head, everyone is there to have fun, to make a nice trip, to enjoy and to spend the night inexpensively. Just behave like a person you would also like to have in your dorm, then it will be all right. Oh and if it fails to build a nice bond, If you are curious about how you meet other backpackers while traveling, check this article!  And if you still find it exciting for any reason, remember that everyone in that hostel has probably felt that way.

Do you have to reserve a hostel or just walk in?

Actually it depends very much on the type of hostel, the location and how you like to travel.

Advantages to reserve your hostel

If you like to plan everything in advance, it might be nice to book a hostel. You know exactly where you need to go when you arrive and do not have to wander around with your backpack looking for a nice room or place. The disadvantage is that you can not check in advance what the room looks like or that it is cozy, although you can also consult online reviews for that.

Another time when it is nice to book a dorm is if you know that it is a popular place and that almost every backpacker wants to go there. Or if it is the only nice hostel in the area. At such a moment it is also smart to book in advance.

Making reservations during holidays is also sensible. We arrived on a local holiday in Cameron Highlands in Malaysia on a local day and then had to share 2 one-person beds with two French people, because there was simply no other place free. The other option was the floor or a bench outside. Then we did not know that we had reserved anything.

Can you just walk into a hostel and ask for a room?

If you do not want to make a reservation, you can simply go to the destination and see if there are nice hostels. You can ask travelers who are waiting for the bus when you arrive and ask where they slept, maybe their hostel was very cozy. Sometimes people from hostels are waiting for new passengers at the bus to lure them to their hostel. In Cuba that is often done by people of a  Casa Particular (you do not sleep there at hostels but at people’s home in a kind of guesthouse).

You can of course already make a list of for example 3 hostels that you have found in a blog or the Lonely Planet and decide to go there. You can then just walk in and ask if there are any rooms left. If that is the case, you can view the room and ask for the price, if you stay for several days you can even try to haggle. It is not surprising at all to just step in somewhere and you will soon hear whether there is still room or not. We also did sometimes when we were traveling with two of us that the one was waiting somewhere with both backpacks and that the other went to the hostels in the area (about three) to see if there was any place and or it was a bit of a normal. So you do not have to lug your backpack, but you can do some research about what is cheap and a nice place.

The advantage of not reserving is finally that you are more free to travel. You do not necessarily have to be at a certain location on a specific date. You just do things whenever you want and you are not dependent on a reservation.

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