Let’s face it, staying in a hostel is no one’s dream situation. Ideally I’d be staying in 5 Star hotels every night… but until they become free, or I become rich, then it’s not going to happen. So hostels it is.
These days there are actually some super cool, chic hostels that combine great design and great prices – admittedly most of these are in western Europe or more westernised places – but hostels can be seriously fun! Plus you’re way more likely to meet fellow young travellers in a hostel than the Four Seasons.
Here are 7 golden rules for happy hostelling.
1. Take Earplugs
My Dad runs a clubnight with a very loud soundsystem and a lot of people complain it’s to loud when they go, the obvious response would be ‘well, if you can’t stand the heat…’ but the staff dole out earplugs. And they work! Don’t be a moaner, just stick a plug in it. You can buy them mega cheap off eBay.
2. And a sleep mask
I’m a great sleeper but errant shafts of light niggle me to the point of distraction. Get yourself a fabulous eye mask to block out all the light, iPhone blue rays and other things you just don’t want to see. Also good for pretending you’re asleep so people don’t bother you.
3. Network, network, network
I truly believe it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Life is a series of networking, meeting and greeting and schmoozing – man is not an island – or however the saying goes. You’ll meet loads of fellow backpackers and they could give you travel tips, lend chargers, provide company, snogs, laughs… the possibilities are endless. Take some business cards and give out your Twitter handle.
4. Keep your sh*t safe
Exercise extreme caution, I’m not saying every one is a thief but don’t give anyone the temptation. You’ll kick yourself if you leave your worldly good lying around and the actually go missing. Most hostels have lockers – use them. And hid things like cash and electronics or lock them away. You can buy portable safes and laptop padlocks and all manner of things to prevent theft. Boring but necessary.
5. Swap books
If you’re backpacking you don’t want a load of novels taking up valuable safe, by heaven take a Kindle, they’re amazing (1000 books in about 10g weight of machinery). I am quite the bibliophile though, and I get nostalgic for paperback so I will be taking one book and swapping as I travel. Hopefully it’ll work out that I always have a physical book and my original will make its way across the globe too. You should definitely get in on the backpacker book club, again, put your twitter handle and a message in the cover and who knows who might have your book in years’ time.
6. Take a sleep sheet
Hostels ain’t all the Ace Hotel, some may be grim but when you’re paying £4 a night then it would be rude to complain. To avoid less-than-pristine bedding take a sleep sheet with you. These silky sheaths fold down to nothing and are perfect for slipping in your backpack. Tip: your Mum would LOVE to buy you this.
7. Make friends with the staff
At school I was always the teacher’s pet, I used to straighten my head of year’s hair before assembly – and do you know what? I got preferential treatment. Suck up to the people in power and it could work to your benefit – use of the hostel computers, transport, local insider knowledge – it’s the staff that hold the key. If you’re a genuinely nice person this will probably just come naturally to you.
with the staff