Before I embark my first backpacking journey with my friend to Indonesia, I had never heard of hostels and no idea on how the hostels concept runs. In 2014, it was the first time staying in hostel while I was backpacking with my friend in Indonesia. I have no idea what they were and the experience of having to share the room with other strangers. Surprisingly, I did enjoy staying hostel and since then, I have used hostels in most of my backpacking journey including Thailand and Laos this March.
Many of us, especially the one who never tried hostel before was wondering how could we survive staying in hostel and to share your privacy with few strangers. Fear not, staying in hostel is more enjoyable than you could imagine. Here are the 5 tips you should know while staying in hostel.
- Read the Reviews and Ratings – First rule, read the reviews and ratings. Do not miss this part as it will potentially ruin your travel experience. Miserable or enjoyable, it’s all up to the reviews and ratings. Trust me, they have not failed me. I had once miss out the reviews and it cost me to spend my miserable night in the hostel for 2 nights. Imagine a hostel without a person in counter and you have to wait for almost an hour to get someone to serve you. Since then, I learned a lesson that every reviews and rating of each hostel is important. Meanwhile, do not ever trust the pictures posted as we all know that ‘photos are for illustration purposes only’. I suggest also looking at the star ratings as well particularly on atmosphere, cleanliness, facilities and etc.
- Be Extrovert (even you’re not) – That means being friendly and sociable! Making new friends during your stay will make your experience even better. You’ll possibly have the opportunity to understand more about your new friends’ culture as well as making solo-travelers feel less alone. Besides, you’ll have people to explore your surroundings with during your stay or even sharing the cost (For example: if both of you are going to the same places). Apart from that, if your hostel has an event – do not miss this out as it is a great chance for you to get to know more people.
- Book Now! Pay Later! – Not sure if you can pay later, but definitely a must to book now! As hostel is affordable and many people would opted to choose hostel as it is inexpensive compare to hotel, you will probably find that hostel are fully booked and occupy if you’re in popular backpacker destinations like Hanoi especially during the peak season. Besides, booking ahead will help you spend less money in the long run. Walk in are usually more expensive than you book online.
- Be Alert! Security is key priority – Remember to put your belongings in the locker with padlock on! You may meet lots of friendly people in your room or even being your best travel buddy, but do not trust anyone! This is to be safe than sorry! For me, I always lock my backpack whenever I leave the room or even I’m a sleep. I tend to bring my key along with me wherever I go.
- Bring Your Own Necessities – In hotel, they got you covered! Whereas hostel, you have to bring your own. Some hostels are good enough to provide you at least towels but some of them do not provide anything. Therefore, necessities (or toiletries) like toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo or even shaver, you have to bring it along with you.
These are the few things you should know! Trust me, if you enjoy your stay in hostels for the first time, you will definitely love them again for your next trip!