Tips for hostel first-timers

Never stayed in a hostel before? Here are a few tips.

Finding a Hostel

  • has an app that lets you search for hostels by location, date, and number of guests. Sort by price, approval rating, and location to find the right place for you.
  • You can use,,, and to research hostels, and then visit the hostel’s site to book directly and avoid paying booking fees and any cancellation refund headaches with the third party sites.
  • Woman traveling alone? Many hostels have women-only dorm rooms and bathrooms. If you don’t see it on their booking site, send an email to ask.
  • The cheapest hostel is often the most tempting choice, but pay attention to the ratings and location – safety and proximity to sights and public transport are often worth a few extra dollars.
  • Some hostels have breakfast included, which you should take advantage of! Eating at the hostel is a great way to save money while on a budget.
  • If you’re traveling in the off season or with a group, always ask the hostel if they can offer a discounted rate.

Hostel Etiquette

  • Be considerate! Your bunkmates’ schedules will probably differ from yours; this means you’ll be coming, going, and sleeping at different hours. Keep the noise down, and always use headphones if you’re listening to music or watching a show.
  • If you’re going to be making a call or typing excessively, go into the lounge.
  • Have to wake up early? Set out your clothes and toiletries the night before so you don’t have to rustle through your bags in the early morning.
  • Use the light on your phone instead of turning on the room light during sleeping hours.
  • Bring an eye mask and earplugs.
  • Toiletry bags with hangers are great – you can hang them on your bunk for easy access, and you can conveniently hang them up in most bathrooms.
  • Keep plastic bags to a minimum – they are surprisingly noisy.
  • Entertain any new friends or visitors in the hostel’s shared spaces.


  • Many hostel bunk beds are rickety and hell for light sleepers; try finding hostels with free standing beds, or consider kipping in a room with fewer beds as these often have free standing beds.
  • Staying for a month or more? Many hostels offer free accommodation in exchange for cleaning/handiwork/receptionist work.
  • Cooking even one meal a day is a great way to save money. Find a hostel with a kitchen and a grocery store nearby, and make breakfast or dinner a few times during your trip.
  • Bring flipflops for the bathroom
  • Bring a hoodie; they’re good for an extra layer if you’re cold, and a nice barrier if you’re unsure about the pillow’s cleanliness.

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