How to stay in hostels

I traveled to Europe by myself for a month starting three days after I turned 18. It was fantastic. And to afford everything I wanted to do, I needed to keep my sleeping arrangement costs low.


I traveled to Europe by myself for a month starting three days after I turned 18. It was fantastic. And to afford everything I wanted to do, I needed to keep my sleeping arrangement costs low. I stayed in hostels, which on average was in the 20-30 euro/night range. That’s a killer deal! The places I stayed in were clean, had friendly staff, and some even included breakfast in that price. But how did I know which places were good to stay in?

I used one site at the time (this was in 2006) called HostelWorld. What I liked about HostelWorld was the fact that only users who made their reservations through the website could write reviews. This allowed for authentic and trustworthy feedback, and is still how they operate today!

Before picking out a place to stay, I would highly recommend figuring out what you want to do and see. If you find that there are several places in the city you gotta check out, then you should make note of where they are and try to pick a hostel within walking distance. This will save you a lot of time and be very convenient.

I recommend the following items when staying in a hostel:



A lock will help keep your valuables (and non-valuables) secure in the lockers provided at a hostel. I recommend getting a TSA approved one so you can use it for your bag if you check your luggage. Also, getting this type of lock (pictured below) will ensure your lock is compatible in size to any locker!


Money distribution.


Depending on how you travel, you may be carrying only credit cards, only cash, or a combination of both. I used to get travel money cards from AAA. You can load money onto it and use it like a debit card. You can also get a backup card! This allows you to keep one card on you and one card in your bag at your hostel. If something happens, you can cancel the card and activate your backup one without interrupting your trip. You can also withdraw money from an ATM! Be careful on the amount of times you do this as international withdraw charges are typically $5.00. The point is, if you are going to carry multiple credit cards or cash, take some with you and leave some in your luggage bag.


Copies of documents.


Stuff happens. And it’s not always good. Always take photocopies of the following items and put a set in every bag you are taking with you:

  1. Passport.
  2. Plane tickets.
  3. Reservations.


Ear plugs.


You never know when you will be staying at a hostel with people who snore. Women do it too! Not only will this protect you from not being able to sleep, but it maximizes your chance of being woken up when your other hostel mates return at late hours in the night.


Eye mask.


Same thing as ear plugs. I am sensitive to light, so when that door opens and the hallway light pours in when I’m trying to sleep, I’m probably going to be grumpy. Also great for the plane!


There are pros and cons to staying with 3-11 other strangers, male/female/coed. You can meet new people who are traveling, just like you, and see sites together or share stories! Or, if you prefer privacy, many hostels offer private rooms at a higher cost, but are still usually way below the average hotel price. You will still have the opportunity to meet other travelers in common spaces provided, all while maintaining privacy, if that’s your thing.

Please excuse bad photo quality. I stayed in a hostel in Stockholm, Sweden during the Magicians World Cup. My hostel-mate sang opera and performed some magic tricks for me. I could only experience this in a hostel!

Happy Travels!

4 comments on “How to stay in hostels”

    1. I hear ya. The variable in all situations isn’t the hostel, it’s the people! Make sure to pack a lock because all hostels (should) have lockers to keep your stuff safe. I personally haven’t had any issues, other than room mates snoring (bring ear plugs).

      I did travel with someone who took a nap on her top bunk with her bag at her feet. When she woke up, her stuff was gone. We know who did it too, but the security camera didn’t provide any evidence. Unfortunately, her bag had cash, a camera, a handheld game system, and her passport. Luckily, we took photocopies of our passports with us and kept them in two places. This made it easy when we went to the Embassy because they were able to get the passport number and required information in order to issue a temporary passport that allowed us to travel to the next country in just three days.

      This could have been prevented the bag was locked up in the locker, but it was still a crappy situation.

      If you have anxiety based on the stories you have heard, staying in a private room in a hostel is still a great option!


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