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10 Tips for Being a Good Hostel Guest for Newbies

How NOT to be the hostel guest from you-know-where!

Are you new to the hostel scene? Traveling away from home for any mid to long length of time means spending lots of time in hostels – they’re the cheapest places to stay, and a top place to meet many other travelers young and old from all over the world. Staying in a hostel is an experience unlike any other; you will get to meet people who are just as interested in travel as you and are just as willing to give travel advice.

Hostels can be located in the heart of a touristy part of town or further afield in the outskirts - be sure to consult a map and noting your must-see-destinations before making your hostel booking. Some travelers will opt to find hostels once they arrive in a new city, whereas plan-loving folks may choose to book online via budget travel sites like HostelBookers, Hostelz, or Hostelworld. Whatever your cup of tea, there's likely to be a hostel in town that fits your travel style.

Additionally, the hostel will also be able to give you the best insider details on spots in town to check out. Whether it's a local sporting event, trip into the mountains, or dive bar in an alleyway, they'll have your back. However, those first-time travelers venturing into this unchartered territory may not be familiar with "hostel guest best practices." Hostel life does come with its own set of do's and don’ts… read on to discover how to get the best out of your stay and how to be a good hostel guest.

Each hostel will have its own unique feel.

1. Coming back after 11pm? Lights OFF!

This is the number one thing that ticks other hostel guests off. If you’re coming in between 11pm and 9am, use your phone or a good old fashioned flashlight to get to your bunk – never turn on the light if you don’t want to be the most unpopular person in the dorm forever and ever, amen! To avoid unnecessary stumbling-around, put your bed clothes under your pillow before you go out, so you can change straight away when you get back in.

2. The dorm is NOT your laundry room.

Stringing up laundry lines between bunks and pegging up your clothes is a step too far, personal space wise. The dorm isn’t your private bedroom – it’s a space you share with others, who probably won’t appreciate ducking under Summer Breeze-smelling wet clothes every time they want to get out the door.

3. Keep any and all hook-ups private - aka go elsewhere.

There is no such thing as a hook-up so quiet nobody in the dorm hears it - no matter what base you're planning on getting to. So do the rest of the world (and the dorm, specifically) a favor and keep it between the two of you . Go somewhere else with your new amour!

Relax in the common room with your new friends.

4. Use your own stuff!

Just a little squeeze of someone else’s toothpaste left on the side of the sink, or a swipe of a yoghurt pot in the fridge all adds up… to huge annoyance from your hostel-mates! Sharing a room doesn’t extend to sharing the contents of each other’s backpacks. Unfortunately, some peoples’ “what’s yours is mine” attitude can extend to all-out stealing of valuables like phones, iPods and laptops – so make sure you keep your stuff locked up when it’s out of eye-shot.

5. A little cleanliness can go a long way.

A huge bugbear for other hostel guests is having to wade through other peoples’ dirty stuff – whether it’s piles of unwashed pans in the kitchen, or worn clothes on the dorm floor. Be considerate of the people you’re sharing with and don’t leave them your mess to clear up.

6. Be open to making new friends.

Living at close quarters gets a whole lot easier if you get along with the people you’re with – so don’t be shy, say hi! Introduce yourself to your dorm-mates straight off the bat, and be open and friendly in the common room and kitchen – you never know if the person you speak to will become a partner in crime on your next night out, or a buddy to hit the beach with.

7. Leaving in the morning? Pack the night before.

If you have to jump in an airport taxi at 5am, pack the night before. Nobody wants a 4am wake-up call from you crashing your locker open, rustling plastic bags full of toiletries and frantically fumbling through piles of clothes for your missing passport.

Dance party at the hostel!!

8. Turn off your alarm clock’s snooze mode.

If you need to wake up at a certain time, set your alarm once for that time. Constantly giving yourself ‘just ten more minutes’ is absolutely maddening for those who don’t have to get up. Ditto, getting text alert bleeps or taking calls late at night from your bed while others are trying to sleep - take your dorm-mates out of the conversation and head to the common room.

9. Always treat the hostel staff with respect.

Hostel staff aren’t your parents or your personal cleaners, they’re just like you – that’s why they chose to get into the hostel game! This could be something as simple as a smile when checking-in, or a ‘thanks’ when they direct you to the best bar in town. Don't forget: a little kindness goes a loooooooooong way.

10. Don’t be a hog! I repeat: Don't be a hog!

Whether it’s a complimentary breakfast buffet, or a home cinema system, or even a wall socket, don’t hog it. Remember other guests would like a few eggs on their plate, or to watch The Hobbit in HD, or to charge their iPhone… while yours is still plugged into the wall, three hours after it reached 100% battery.

You might raise your eyebrows at some of these rules – surely people don’t do stuff like that?! – but trust us, all these things have happened! To condense it down even more, just remember to unpack your common sense and good manners on arrival – that’s the simple secret to being the best hostel guest. Armed with these rules, you’ll make friends in hostels wherever you go…

Photo of Sophie Green

Sophie Green is a world traveller and social media manager at HostelBookers.com. She currently lives in London, but has spent time in Chicago, Paris and Sydney too. She loves nothing more than packing her backpack and getting out on the road to a place she’s never been.