It’s exciting to step out of your comfort zone, get on a plane and start a new adventure. New countries, sights, sounds and people – you’ll make memories to last a lifetime. To make those moments stress-free, you should be aware of certain things while hosteling in Europe. Here are my tips for staying in a hostel that will hopefully make your trip just a little bit easier.
Most hostels these days have developed with the times and come with lockers in the room, or at least a storage room with lockers. When booking your room, make sure that the room comes with lockers to secure your personal effects. You’ll want to carry a lock and key with you when traveling as most hostels in Europe will expect you to have one with you. More modern hostels have a scanner on the locker that you can open with a card key but I don’t see these too often when traveling. It’s also a good idea to check the comments section of Hostelbookers before making a booking if you’re unsure about the size of the lockers. Other travelers will usually comment about how much space they had available for their belongings.
Your standard lock and key will be effective for all European lockers. Don’t choose anything to small or flimsy that can be easily ripped off. If you’re the kind of person that regularly loses your locker keys, you may want to invest in a good combination lock instead.
2. Divide your travel documents
I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve never lost anything too important while traveling. I do, however, meet people regularly that have lost their ID card or passport on a night out. Avoid getting yourself into sticky situations by keeping your identification documents separate at all times. Passport/ID card in your locker and driver’s licence on you. If you lose one, at least you still have something with you to continue your trip.
3. Backpack of travel goodies
When roaming a new city, you’ll find yourself away from the hostel for most of the day whether you intend to or not. I find having a small backpack with me helps to alleviate a lot of the problems I run into daily. From a runny nose to a sudden downpour – a day trip can be ruined easily when you’re unprepared. A few things I like to keep with me are – sunglasses, a small umbrella, tissues, plasters, a compact power bank, a small water bottle, pain tablets and wet wipes (for when it’s very hot).
4. Choose your bunk wisely
If the room you’re assigned to isn’t completely full, try to specify with the receptionist if you prefer a top or bottom bunk. Should you choose a bottom bunk, you’ll have someone climbing up past you every time they enter or exit but you’ll have easier access to under-bed lockers.
If you opt for a top bunk, you won’t have to worry about anyone climbing past you constantly – but you will have to do regular climbing down yourself every time you need to get something from your locker or go to the toilet. Depending on the type of person you are – one or the other will seem more preferable.
With that being said, I think that if you can – go for the bottom bunk! If you have an extra blanket, you can even make yourself a makeshift fort for privacy.
5. Bring your own toiletries
Some hostels provide body wash and shampoo, others do not. Even if they normally do provide it, the dispensers could be empty by the time you’ve pried yourself off the bunk bed. Have yourself a decent toiletry bag with you whenever you want to go shower – just in case you need something.
6. Earplugs and Eye Masks
Always, always take earplugs and eye masks that are provided by your hostel. As some point or other, some drunken idiot from your room will wake you up in the middle of the night when hosteling in Europe. Have those earplugs on the ready to help you get a few more hours kip. And if the earplugs don’t work, you’ve at least got an eye mask to block out the morning light while you try sleep in.
7. Don’t book too far in advance
If you’re planning to travel a lot and will be changing hostels regularly – don’t book them all at once. You will inevitably meet people that will warn you to avoid a certain hostel, or recommend one to you. Many times, I’ve decided to stay in a city for an extra day or two because I enjoyed myself so much. Plans can change on a whim – even for the most organized people, so it’s best to wait a bit before making each booking.
Another reason for this is your personal tolerance for noise. After traveling for a few weeks, I normally find myself booking a private hostel/hotel room just to get away from everyone and everything. Having a nice quiet room to yourself and a bath tub can be just what you need to regain your energy when you’re feeling worn down.
Hosteling in Europe – Tips for Staying in a Hostel
Of course you cannot be prepared for every eventuality but with these tips you’ll have a good base to work from. The most important thing when it comes to hosteling in Europe is to make the best of every situation. You’re bound to stay in some hostels that you’ll hate but don’t ever let that bring down your mood and ruin your trip.
Remember, your worst hostel is another traveler’s favorite – and vice versa. Different people have different tastes and expectations. A loud hostel can still be ideally placed close to attractions, making it easy to get around.
Make the most of each and every situation, look at the positives and enjoy your travels! 🙂