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4 Insider Tips Everyone Staying at a Hostel Must Know

Hostelling is a fun, shared experience that works because of the unwritten, understood mutual respect travelers have for one another. To help those new to the scene, Hostelling International USA (HI USA) has revealed the following insider tips for hostel etiquette to ensure you have an awesome experience in your dorm room and around the hostel:

Personal Space

Dorms tend to be efficiently designed places, meaning there’s not a ton of space. Try to keep your belongings around your bunk area, storing your bag in your locker or under the bed (if you’re on the bottom). For wet towels, hang them over the back of the bed instead of the side, and do your best to keep the mess to a minimum. It’s also best to consider bunkmates’ beds off-limits for extra space when you’re organizing your things.  


You’ll also want to be mindful of your alarm. A simple heads up that your alarm will be going off at the crack of dawn is a courtesy that can go a long way, and do your best to refrain from hitting the snooze button! For added brownie points, give your roommates permission to wake you if you manage to sleep through the buzzing.

Lastly, be mindful of the lights when others are sleeping.  HI USA has travelers arriving daily from any of more than 100 countries, so it’s not uncommon for everyone in the room to be on a different time zone.  It’s helpful to pack a small flashlight or lamp just for these occasions. If you’re leaving early, make sure you’re all packed up the night before to minimize the disturbance.

Communal Spaces

Common spaces define the hostelling experience, especially for HI USA, because that’s the best way to meet other people. Since many people will be coming in and out of the kitchen, the game room, or the dining hall, clean up after yourself and don’t leave personal items in a shared space.

As you’re enjoying these common areas, you’ll meet people from a wealth of different cultures, languages and beliefs. Just remember to keep an open mind and stay respectful and kind. You may find that you have more in common than you think, and that’s how hostel-pals-turned-lifelong-friends begins!

Activities and Events

The best part of hostelling is the people you meet, and taking part in hostel-led activities and events make it easy and natural, and, of course, fun! HI USA hostel events are especially designed to introduce guests to one another, as well as to the local vibe of the town through food, sights, and history. If you’re a little shy meeting new people, remember the two golden questions of hostelling: ‘where are you from?’ and ‘where are you going to next?’

Keep these tips in mind during your next hostel stay and not only will you fit in, you’ll make some great friends along the way!

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About the author
Karina Barriga Albring

Karina Barriga Albring

I'm a writer, journalist, soccer lover and hot sauce enthusiast born and bred in the mighty Andes. Wanderlust hit me hard at a young age and since then, it keeps me up at night. NYC and Modena, Italy changed my life, but my favorite destination is still Rio de Janeiro – and not only for the 'futebol'!

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