How To Survive Backpacker Hostel Life
It might not be what you’re used to. Maybe because of the noise, the grossness, the lack of privacy. Well, hostel life is an inevitability of backpacking life, but we’re going to make it more than bearable for you.
Make sure you’re getting the right hostel
You know you better than we know you, and you know what you like and you especially know what you will not like at all. These days there are all kinds of user-based ratings and reviews systems around, either independent or attached to booking websites, and through these you can get advice from fellow travellers who have previously stayed in the hostels you’re looking at.
There are big, wild hostels and small, less-wild hostels, and quiet B&Bs and lonely, expensive hotels. Before you set out, research your first few stops and choose the place for you. Then as you travel more and your tastes change, book accommodation while on the road.
Also, remember to check the age of the reviewer before you take their word as gospel – you might be on a different page to Gwenda, 83, Milwaukee.
You’ll have to repeat yourself a lot
One of the best things about travelling is meeting new people and one of the worst things about travelling is also meeting new people. After a while the Where are you from, what do you do, where have you been, where are you going conversation gets a bit tedious. There’s no avoiding it, really, but maybe be the icebreaker and guide the conversation yourself. You’ll either discover information about people more organically and form long-lasting, beautiful friendships, or you’ll find that you’re a “where, what, where, where” kind of person yourself – and that’s OK!
You’ll be surrounded by other people all the time
Well, most of the time. When you’re out and about you’ll be wonderfully lost and that’s a great time to be alone with your thoughts, and maybe after a while a little lonely. Never fear, as your hostel will be a buzzing hive of new people, all eager to ask you questions, see above, and befriend you, because they’re in the same boat. It’s great, and most people are amazing, but sometimes you’ll just want to tune out and read a book and not pretend to be interested in Gregor’s bloody collection of vintage Manchester United shirts. Well, buy yourself some you time by stringing a sarong across your bunk bed and plugging in some headphones. If Greg can’t see you, he definitely can’t bore you.
Rough sleeping conditions
Ideally you’ll be spending your nights sipping on rosé on Cote d’Azur terraces, or gyrating against some Italian in Mykonos, but when you’re not, when you’re chasing a nice, natural sleep being in a shared hostel dorm will make you acutely aware of your fellows’ nocturnal habits. Snorers, shaggers, drunken staggers, night-terror sufferers, sleepwalkers and sleeptalkers are all among the menagerie of unreasonably noisy nighttime roommates. To save either missing sleep, or being one of those “shushers”, bring an eyemask, some earplugs or use your headphones and play soothing music to mask the terrible sounds all around you and a reading lamp so even when all the lights are off, you can have a nice bedtime read.”
Or if that fails, sometimes treat yourself to the private room
Because while backpacking should be a budget experience, you don’t need to put yourself through pain all the time. Most hostels these days have private rooms, or at least smaller dorms, that won’t cost you Ritz prices, some with private bathrooms too. Treat yo’self, fix yourself up, have a long shower, shave, whatever, enjoy a bit of you time… then hit the common room and have a rager with Gregor and his drunken mates.
“Take advantage of the hostel life. There is almost always a free food cupboard and while plain rice three times a day gets boring, you’ll find the odd onion or tabasco sauce. One time I even found cheese and pesto. Also, people will generally feel bad for you and you can 100% let go of your pride and let it happen. If everyone’s going out to dinner and you can’t afford to eat out, have some of your rice before and just go for the company, there’ll always be leftover food and people will always buy you drinks. Also, a few times I’ve become friends with people who are a good bit older and have a good bit more money who say they wish someone had done the same for them when they were in my position and taken me out for a full meal with drinks, and someday, when I’m eventually not broke, I’ll return the favour to someone like me.” - Jose, 22, Guatemala