Tips for Staying in Hostels
My trip to Zurich was my first time staying in a hostel. I was incredibly nervous about it and wasn't quite sure what to expect despite doing my research and preparing the best ways I knew how. Of course I forgot to bring a couple things that would have been useful but generally I would call it a success. If you are going to be staying in a hostel, here are some things to consider.
Before you go
Does the hostel offer sheets, blankets, and/or towels?
Some places may charge for these items while other hostels include them automatically. It's a good idea to check so that you know if you should bring some along or be prepared to pay.
Check-in & check-out policies
Make sure that your arrival and departure fits well with their check in and check out times. If not, check if they have a luggage room or a policy about leaving your things there while you explore the city.
Are there lockers available?
And are they in your room? Free of charge?
Mixed or girls-only rooms
Would you rather be in a room with only other girls or is a mixed room okay?
This is true of pretty much everything we do, right? I find it especially important because we rely on the reviews to determine the cleanliness and atmosphere of the hostel before we book it. Remember you'll be sleeping there! Best be comfortable.
Most hostels will have a quiet time from around 10pm to sometime early in the morning. Keep that in mind!
Flip flops or shower shoes
Bathrooms and showers are shared so you need something to protect your feet from all of the germs that others leave behind. They can be any kind of cheap flip flops or sandals that you happen to have
House shoes (or maybe that is just the Germans rubbing off on me)
Is this weird? Maybe this is weird. But you still don't know these people and there are a lot of common areas. Instead of strapping on or lacing up your sneakers every time you leave your bed, get some hard soled house shoes. Here in Germany, Birkenstock are a favorite (mine too).
Even if your hostel provides you with towels, you might still want to bring your own. Often the towels aren't very big and you likely just get one. Grab a quick drying towel so you can stuff it in your bag in a few days without worry.
Sheets and bedding if necessary
Would really hate to get there and not have any sheets on your bed!
Don't be that asshole that gets up 4 times a night to go get a glass of water. Bring a reusable water bottle-save yourself some trips to the sink, save some money, and save the planet!
Maybe you don't normally need these to sleep but you may find that you have a roommate that snores, talks in their sleep, or is just generally loud.
This can help block out your noisy roommates and hey, music! But I mean really, who doesn't bring their headphones on a trip, right? I use this when I am sleeping to block out the noise of any other people talking or snoring.
An extra lock
I recommend a small lock where you can lock your bag closed. This way your stuff is secure when you're traveling and maybe happen to fall asleep on the bus. Avoid those big, chunky locks as you can't lock zippers with them and they tend to be incredibly heavy! There are plenty of styles and different kinds of locks you can use according to what works for you and your particular bag.
A flashlight or headlamp
Don't be that asshole that turns on all the lights so that they can dig through their bag for a tube of chap stick in the middle of the night. Use your phone, get a small key chain lamp, or if you prefer a hands-free approach, get a headlamp.
Hand sanitizer and/or disinfecting spray
I have a small pocket-sized disinfecting spray bottle. Three words: bathroom door handles. You're welcome.
Multi USB Charger
You will probably have 1-2 outlets to yourself. Save time (and your battery) by getting a charger that accepts multiple USBs. That way you don't have to go sit in the kitchen and watch your electronics charge.
Universal Plug Adapter & Voltage Converter
Maybe you already have this...maybe you don't! Make sure your plugs will be compatible with wherever you're going or that USB charger you have won't do you any good. Now, a plug adapter only connects to your device and has a plug that is compatible with another plug. For instance, if you have an American electronic, you'll need one in most of Europe that has two small, round prongs. Often, these do not convert the voltage. You have to make sure that either your device is compatible or that you also purchase a voltage converter. Try not to melt anything like my mom did in Scotland.
Pack your bag in a logical way
If you'll need your toiletries right away, keep those at the top. If you can wait on that book you brought, leave it towards the bottom. It really isn't fun to be the person who has to dig through a hundred things in their bag to find a toothbrush or a sock.
Get everything ready the evening before
I was personally surprised how late many people slept. Maybe it's because I'm an au pair and I get to wake up at the crack of dawn with three children...but anyway. If you plan on leaving early, try to have all your bags in order and things ready so you can quickly, and quietly get ready and make an exit. There have been some other people who have woken up even earlier than me, likely to catch an early train or plane, and my god they were so noisy. We don't need to hear all of your shopping bags rustling in the morning. I will kill you.
Phones on silent
When people in your dorm room start retiring to bed, make sure you silence your phone. No one wants to hear how often your mom texts you. If you do get a call, take it outside.
Finding a hostel
It can be overwhelming in general to find accomodation. When I am looking for a hostel, I use Hostelworld almost exclusively. It is great because it allows people who have stayed at different hostels leave a review and a rating. You can see pictures of the place and see what is included in your booking.
Do you have any other tips for staying in a hostel? Or any funny hostel experiences? Drop them in the comments!
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