By ALEX SAIFITI
Staying at a hostel or backpackers while travelling can save you a lot of money, which can come in handy during the more expensive parts of your trip. I recently spent a couple of weeks in a number of backpackers and was able to spend the money saved on food, activities and some awesome day tours. If you’re considering staying at a backpackers or hostel, here are some tips to making your stay that much better:
#1 Do your research – Different hostels and backpackers will tend to attract different types of people. If you’re bothered, it pays to read up on reviews and ask others for recommendations before deciding where to stay and what type of room best suits you. Ultimately, if you’re not a fan of a place, remember that it’s just a place to sleep and wash up. You’ll spend most of your time exploring outside of your accommodation and if you’re anything like me, will often be too tired to care, collapsing into a deep sleep as soon as you hit the pillow.
#2 Room selection – Pick a room you feel comfortable with. All-male, all-female or mixed as well as private rooms to multiple bunks, it’s important to understand your options and choose accordingly. You may wish to mix it up as you gain more confidence and move through to different hostels.
#3 Wi-Fi – In today’s time, connection to the internet can be viewed as a bare necessity. Many hostels and backpackers have strong Wi-Fi connections but often only in the common rooms/reception areas. This offers an opportunity to socialise and avoid being tucked up in bed on your phone or laptop all day. If this sounds like you, you may want to make sure you have enough data on your phone because Wi-Fi at hostels, especially in rooms, may not always be reliable.
#4 Secure your valuables – Usually, there will be lockers available. Make sure you have a secure lock and put valuables like laptops, cameras, money and passports in them. You wouldn’t leave valuables around in a private hotel room, so why would you leave valuables hanging around in a dorm full of strangers?
#5 Socialise – Everyday can be different as new people come and go, passing through onto their next destination. Some people are looking to make friends while others may already have a group or a partner they’re not willing to linger from. It pays to always introduce yourself and get to know the basics of each person, their name, where they’re from, how long they’re staying and perhaps where they’re going to next or what they plan to do while they stay. You will pick up as to whether someone wants to socialise or not.
#6 Ask – If there’s anything you’re unsure of or if you want some recommendations on where to eat and things to do and see, don’t be afraid to ask your fellow roommates or at the reception. They often know the best places to eat and the insider tips and tricks.
#7 Bathing -Preparation is key. Make sure you have a pair of jandals as the floor will be wet. It also pays to have small toiletries available like shampoo, conditioner and soap as these are unlikely to be provided by the hostel. Hot water is a valuable resource so you may wish to shower before everyone else, but be aware of your water usage.
#8 Get organised – Make sure you’re prepared for the coming day ahead. If you’re leaving early, it’s good to be quiet and considerate of those who are still sleeping. This means avoiding rustling plastic bags and avoiding failing to respond to alarms which were meant for you, but instead wake everyone else up. Have your clothes and day pack ready to go to avoid scavenging through your bag and making a mess in the dark.
#9 Sleeping matters – Re-iterating the point above, set alarms only if you know you will wake up to them. Be courteous of others when turning lights on while others are resting. If you can’t stand snoring, buy a pair of ear plugs or listen to music to fall asleep. A bottom bunk close to power plugs tends to be the best option; no struggling to climb up and down a ladder in the dark and easy access for sitting down during the day. For additional privacy, you may wish to hang your towel or a sheet along the side of the bunk to make your own space. If you get stuck with a top bunk, don’t be that person who hangs their towel on the side of the bunk.
#10 Courtesy – An underlying theme throughout these points has been courtesy for your fellow roommates. If you’re quite a messy individual, contain the mess to your area and avoid messing up other people’s spaces. Be quiet and avoid turning on the light when others are sleeping. Keep the bathroom clean and notify staff if it isn’t clean.
Although this list isn’t comprehensive, it will go a long way to making your next backpacking experience a good one!
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