How to be the best hostel roommate?
Staying at hostels while traveling is one of a kind experience. I personally love it. I’ve slept in many different kinds of dorms and so far I’ve been lucky enough not to encounter any major incident. I always try to behave the best I can so my roommates have a smooth stay too. In this article I’m sharing with you my tips on how to be the best hostel roommate.
You’re probably staying at a hostel to save money. But you might also be staying at a hostel to meet fellow travelers during your journey. Good choices. Anyway, you WILL meet people in a hostel so it might be a good gesture to play the social card, at least with the staff and the people sharing your dorms. I always tend to say “hello” while entering my dorm. This is the minimum to do. I feel like if I don’t say hello, there is an awkward vibe in the room. If the people are answering back, I engage the conversation and try to get to know them. It might be the start of a friendship and who knows, you might hang out with them in the next days.
No one likes to live in a pigsty -unless one is a pig. So try to keep your stuff tidy. Plus, spreading your belongings all over the place is the best way to lose your things.
Cleaning up after yourself is a must in the kitchen and in the bathroom. Usually hostel staff members are travelers just like you, they are not your maid, so try to be considerate and wash your dishes and don’t leave your hairs in the sink!
People are staying in hostels to have a good night sleep. They don’t want to be disturbed in the middle of the night because drunken you have decided that the party was not over. So the basic things to do, not to make yourself enemies, is to stay quiet from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. because people might be sleeping. Of course, having absolute silence in a dorm is an utopia but minimizing the noise is always a great gesture. So it might be good to avoid speaking loud.
Another thing to think about is lights. Switching on the light when someone is sleeping is awful (hello top bunk!). If it’s dark outside, make a rule of not turning on the light -or make sure nobody is in bed to do so. Use a flash light, or a frontal lamp- these are actually very handy because you don’t have to hold it with your hand.
If your shoes are smelly, please don’t leave them in the dorm. Leave them outside, better at the edge of a window or on balcony. Don’t worry, nobody will steal your smelly shoes. Same goes for anything stinking you have in your pack – spoiled food or anything.
If you leave early in the morning, let’s say before 7 a.m., pack the night before. It’s always annoying when people are going through their stuff at 5 a.m. especially when there is a plastic bag involved (please ban those from your pack). Also, try to minimize the noise and whisper to your travel buddies. Another thing to do for an early departure is that if you have to give back a key, especially when you have to get your deposit back, let the staff know the night before. That way, they will know and be waiting at the reception when you go.
Even if they have a 24/7 reception, staff might be sleeping. When I stayed in a party hostel in Budapest, I informed the reception I would leave at 6 a.m. The lady at the desk told me there wouldn’t have any problem, somebody will be there to get my key and give me 1000 forints back. Well, it turned out that I buzzed the reception for at least 10 minutes, and nobody came. I resigned and left without my deposit back because I had to catch my bus to Prague.
Extra tips on hostel life
Choose your hostel wisely
Choosing a hostel is a kind of art. Location, cleanliness, safety, facilities, staff, atmosphere… There are many criteria to take into account. Some hostels offer meals, activities, breakfast, extra facilities… It’s up to you to choose but make sure to read reviews before. You DON’T want to pick a party hostel if you want calm to relax.
Mark your territory
Once you’ve checked in, make your bed if it’s not already made and leave a towel or something to show the bed is taken. Put a padlock on your locker too. This might be a weird tip but trust me, there is a story behind this.
When I traveled to Vancouver, I checked into the hostel. I had a specific number of bed assigned which I acknowledged when I went to leave my backpack in the dorm. Then I went to explore the city with a friend and I came back in the middle of the night. Guess what? Somebody was sleeping in my bed. They did not respect their assigned number and I had to look for an empty bed in another bunk. This was not a big a deal but now I tend to show that my bed is actually taken.
Don’t trust your roomies too much
You’ve met your dorm mates. They all seem friendly and nice. Good for you. It doesn’t mean you should leave your brand new Canon charging without supervision. It doesn’t mean you should sleep with your wallet under your pillow. It means that your valuables stay in your lockers when you are not around. Getting your stuff stolen is so annoying.
When I was in Sibiu, Romania, a guy was naive enough to leave his iPhone charging in the dorm. He went to have dinner with his friends in front of the hostel. Meanwhile, a random guy walked in the dorm. He lied down on a bed. Then he left. Guess what? When the guy came back from his dinner, his iPhone was gone. He made the hostel staff call the police, they took all our IDs, asked questions… But the iPhone was gone forever.
Beware of bed bugs
Bed bugs are nasty little creatures. They suck your blood and invade all your stuff so they easily spread out. The best thing to do when you enter a dorm is to check the mattress for dark spots. If there are some, bed bugs might be there. I’d recommend leaving the place.
Bed bugs bites come in line, they swell and spread out. It’s quite itchy and even painful. Go to a pharmacy, show your bites and ask for medication. It will ease the pain.
You should also ask for a spray for your things to eradicate the bugs. Usually you have to spray your stuff and leave it in a trash bags for 48 hours so the bugs die. You should also wash your clothes with hot temperature.
Don’t avoid staying at hostels because you fear the bed bugs. During my many nights in hostels, I encountered bed bugs just once. It was annoying but I managed not to bring them home because I followed the procedure explained above.
Must-haves for a smooth hostel stay are:
- flip flops: I always shower with them to avoid fungal infections!
- padlocks: hostels often offer lockers, but you need to bring your own padlock to keep your valuables safe. I always bring two, just in case.
- ear plugsand a sleep mask: in case your roommates didn’t read my article and don’t behave properly, ear plugs will save you from the noise and the sleep mask will save you from lights.
- powerstrip: it is not really a must-have but you might make many friends if you bring a powerstrip along with you, because sockets are the Holy Grail in hostel dorms.
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