Nothing beats seeing the world on a budget –– and staying in a hostel along the way is a rite of passage for any thrifty traveller. But following some basic hostel safety tips requires careful planning and following some important tips for staying in hostels. Safety is just as important as enjoying the scenery, and visiting cultural landmarks and doing as the locals do is just one part of the fun. Feeling safe and well-rested in your accommodations helps you enjoy every moment.
Any seasoned traveller knows that being informed is the best protection against mishaps. Do your research before booking your stay and make sure you follow these safety tips for staying in hostels!
Tip # 1: Hostel Policy
Read the fine print of each booking before you go. During high season, this is especially important as many hostels have strict policies in place to protect themselves from no-shows and keep their guests happy with additional rules such as quiet hours or curfews.
- Hostels have different policies, so make sure you don’t assume the rules are the same from place to place.
- The worst case scenario might be that your train came in late and you arrived at your hostel ready to sleep, but you find your room was given to another traveller! Wandering around a city you don’t know at night looking for a place to sleep would be incredibly unsafe. Don’t let this happen to you!
- One of our best tips for staying in hostels is simply to read the fine print. Make sure you are aware of curfew, communal areas, and how many fellow travellers will be sharing a room with you.
Simply being aware of these risks is arguably the most important hostel safety tip. Sometimes your preferred accommodation isn’t available, but at least you won’t be caught off guard if you know what you are getting into. Keep in mind that some hostels are recognized internationally, and others are independent. Read reviews and book the highest quality accommodation you can afford.
Tip # 2: Lock it Up
Your hostel is really just a place to crash; the rest of the time you will want to see the sights and enjoy the culture stress-free and without baggage. If you want to feel carefree as you explore the city, make sure you know what to do with your luggage at your hostel during the day.
- One of our best tips for staying in hostels is to carry a small lock for your backpack. You can discreetly lock your backpack to the side of a bed rail and hide it under blankets to deter would-be thieves. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Many hostels offer a safe area or locked room for valuables, but you will want to check with each location to see what their policy is. Some hostels charge for this service.
- Make sure you have a small daypack and money belt with you. Keep all of your valuables in the daypack and sleep with your money belt on at night. Hard-to-replace items, such as your passport, should be on your person at all times.
Keep in mind that even if you follow all hostel safety tips, theft does happen. Be very mindful when taking out electronics or other valuables when staying at a hostel. You will want to keep these close to you and out of sight as much as possible, or you may risk becoming a target for petty theft.
Tip # 3: Expect Everything to be Communal
While you’re staying in a budget hostel, privacy is a luxury and should not ever be expected. Our following tips for staying in hostels are meant to help you travel safely and with ease in a communal environment. If you plan on everything at your accommodation being communal, you can pack accordingly.
- Showers may not be private or even divided by gender. Expect to have a swimsuit, quick-dry towel, flip-flops, and a carry-bag with all of your shower needs.
- You will likely be sharing your room with anywhere from 4 to 10 other travellers. If you are the type who desires extra comfort, make sure you bring a lightweight travel pillow.
- Although hostels try to prevent it, there is always the possibility that your room will have a bug infestation. Scabies and bed bugs are unfortunately common amongst busy hostels. Carrying your own travel blanket to lay on top of hostel beds can be a good preventative measure.
Tip # 4: Band Together
Hostels are a great homebase for making new friends and planning nighttime outings. What better way to sample local culture than to get together with fellow travellers and enjoy the nightlife? But before you grab your dance shoes, keep these tips in mind.
- Don’t rely on others to get you home. If you seperate and the night takes you in different directions, one of the most crucial safety tips for staying in hostels is to make sure you have your hostel address with you.
- Follow practical safety rules if you will be consuming alcohol. Don’t go overboard, leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers.
- Trust your instinct. If the surroundings make you feel uncomfortable, try to get a buddy to move on with you, or leave on your own if need be.
It doesn’t hurt to let someone at home know where you will be in advance. By all means, have fun, but follow the same rules you would follow at home.
Tip # 5: Sound Travels
Here are some noise tips for staying in hostels to help you keep the volume down and be considerate of others.
- Avoid plastic bags. Instead, opt for a wet bag or storage cubes. If you are a night owl or an early riser, your fellow travellers can slumber in peace without the sound of crinkling.
- Make sure you carry some earplugs –– like the ones included with the Evolution Cool® travel pillow.
- Follow any hostel safety tips or policies regarding quiet times.
Being a good roommate means thinking about your neighbors. You might be able to sleep in the next day, but your neighbor could be rising early to prepare for their next destination. Be respectful!
Tip # 6: Clean-Up
Nothing is worse than a messy roommate –– so don’t let that roommate be you! If you make a mess, pick it up. And ideally, you leave your room cleaner than you found it.
- When using a communal kitchen or other shared space, make sure you clean up after yourself.
- Wash your clothes and keep them organized in your area. With so many people in a small space, nobody wants to smell your dirty laundry.
- Shower regularly –– and be mindful of where you toss your wet towel and flip-flops.
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Now that you are all up to date on hostel etiquette and safety, you’re that much closer to being ready for your journey. But just because you’re traveling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to forego luxury. Cabeau products are designed to be high quality, lightweight, and easy to pack, so be sure to explore our travel pillows and comfort items before you embark on your adventure!