There’s a lot to be said for traveling in luxury, but the backpacking hostel-hopping experience is one that every seasoned, adventurous traveler should have under their belt at least once. Sure, you have to share a bathroom and listen to the top bunk snore, but you’ll also find that you quickly become part of a large, traveling community that will share all of the area’s best kept secrets and plunge you into both local culture and international camaraderie in a way nothing else will. It might not be your preferred vacation method for decades to come, but it is certainly a right of passage you won’t want to miss!
Living with a rotating group of strangers on the road comes with many challenges, of course, just like any travel does. Here are a few tips to help your hostel adventures run smoothly.
Bring your own soap and shampoo, as hostels usually won’t provide these. You’ll also want to bring your own towel, and if you’re planning on moving from place to place quickly or your destination is particularly humid, it may be worth it to invest in a microfiber travel towel that dries super fast and folds up tightly. Most importantly, bring shower shoes! A cheap pair of rubber flip flops can save you a lot of discomfort if you pick up something from the floors.
Don’t Be Shy
It can be intimidating to walk into a dorm full of strangers, but it’s a crucial part of the experience, and a valuable one! Your fellow travelers will tend to be down-to-earth people with fascinating stories, and often they have the best insider knowledge about the best kept secrets of the city that tourists usually miss, or that amazing discount for a detour you’ll just have to take. Besides, it’ll be much easier to ask a snorer to roll over if you said hello earlier!
Bottom is Best
If you have a choice, choose a bottom bunk. It’ll be much easier to get in and out of bed if you’re getting in late or leaving early, and you can store your bags under the bed frame. As an added bonus, you’ll also have easier access to outlets to charge your electronics at night. If you do end up on top, though, here’s a tip: hang your towel over the railing at the foot of the bed, not the side to stay in your roomie’s good books.
Exercise Healthy Caution
Backpackers tend to be a trustworthy bunch, but there’s no need to tempt fate. Never leave your valuables (or your passport!) behind for the day, and keep your most important items on you at all times. That means bring them into the bathroom in your toiletry case while you shower, and tuck them under your pillow or in a pouch around your neck while you sleep.
It doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with hostel etiquette, either. If you stay smart and open to new experiences, you’ll have an amazing time experiencing the world as every traveler should! Happy trails!