Hostels can be great places to meet other young backpackers from all around the world! They are also great to stay at when you’re traveling on a budget since they are so affordable! Only $10/night to stay in Prague- count me in! However, staying in hostels can become a nightmare when you cross the inconsiderate roommate. Since staying in a hostel can mean you’re bunking with 10 other people, hostel etiquette is so important! There are unspoken rules about staying in hostels!
This post is PART TWO to my Complete Guide to Hostels series! If you missed part one, How to Pick a Hostel that’s Right for You, then you can find that post here.
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10 Rules of Hostel Etiquette
1. Be Considerate About Lights and Noise
During the day when you’re hanging out in your room, it is fair game to talk, listen to music, whatever you want to do. But after around 10 or 11 pm, if some of the people in your dorm decide to go to sleep, bring it into the communal areas. Likewise, if you’re entering the room in the middle of the night, try to keep the noise down a bit and don’t flip on the lights. There isn’t a faster way to make enemies in a hostel than busting into the room at 3 am noisy and drunk and then flipping on the lights!
I feel like the majority of people abide by this rule! One instance that sticks out to me though is when I was staying my first night in Amsterdam. I had just gotten off of an 18-hour flight to Europe after multiple delays and connections. I can’t sleep on planes and have been up almost 36 hours by the time I made it to my hostel at 10 pm. When 3 am rolled around, the 4 other people staying in my dorm came in, made a bunch of noise and kept the light on nearly 20 minutes.
It’s understandable to not have complete silence. As long as you’re making an effort to be considerate (like use a flashlight and whisper if you’re coming in with other people) it’s not a big deal.
2. Pack the Night Before
If you have a train that’s leaving early the next morning, it’s best to pack up the night before. Rummaging around, opening and closing your locker, climbing up to your top bunk and back down multiple times can get noisy. Most likely when you’re staying in a room with other people traveling, some of them would’ve gotten back late the night before (or early that morning) and are planning to sleep in. Getting woken up at 5 in the morning isn’t fun when you have a hangover, right?
Packing the night before eliminates this problem. Keep your clothes out for the next day and all you have to do is grab your toiletries bag and clothes and get ready in the bathroom. When you’re done you can grab your bag and head out. You even get to sleep in this way!
3. Do your Dishes in the Communal Kitchen
A lot of hostels have a kitchen and supply things to cook with and eat on. Most hostels are not in charge of doing your dishes, though. I say most because some hostels have a free (or for a small fee) breakfasts and have a tub to put your dishes on when you’re done. If this is not very evident and you’re cooking for yourself in the kitchen, then it is your responsibility to do your own dishes.
Nothing sucks more than bringing your groceries into the kitchen to cook your dinner, which your starving for, and discovering that the ONLY pot in the kitchen is in the sink, unwashed. Gross! Even if your hostel has more than one pot, it is still your responsibility to do your dishes- not the hostel staff or the person planning to cook after you.
4. Don’t Go Through Anyone Else’s Things
This may seem like common sense… at least I hope it does. First, think of how extremely awkward it would be if someone walked into your dorm and saw you in someone else’s, maybe even their things. Don’t go through the other people in your dorm’s things- even if you’re planning on just borrowing something. I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate it on your end if the same was happening to you. It’s also kind of creepy and just flat out not cool. If you really need to borrow something, just ask!
5. Greet the Other People in Your Dorm When They (Or You) Arrive
This is sort of the ice breaker when you get to a hostel. It can be kind of uncomfortable when you’re sharing a room with someone and they blatantly ignore you when you come in or when you see each other for the first time. It’s so easy to just introduce yourself when you go into the room- shake their hand, ask where they’re from, how long they’ve been traveling, etc. Then if you end up talking in the future you don’t have to awkwardly ask them in the middle of a conversation what their name is. Or even if you don’t really want to socialize at the hostel, it’s easier to keep the peace a few nights if you accidentally step on each other’s toes when you know each other’s names or at least have greeted one and another.
Plus, I believe you can meet lifelong friends when you are staying in hostels. I know I have!
6. Keep Your Things in Your Area
Respect your roomie’s space by keeping your things in the provided locker or on your bed. If you’re hanging something up, make sure it’s in your area (like the end of your bed) and not blocking anyone else’s space. Don’t hang a clothesline to hang up wet clothes to dry across the room. Also, don’t clutter bags and shoes around the ladders or in front of bunks- especially when it’s someone else’s. They might be stumbling in drunk at 1 in the morning in the dark and not realize that there’s a tripping hazard right in front of their bed!
7. Keep Your Clothes On
That’s fine if you like to walk around naked or in your underwear at home. When you’re sharing a room with a bunch of other people, that’s a no go. Even if you just think you have a really great body so no one is going to care- trust me and just keep your clothes on. I’ve personally never experienced staying in the same room with someone who has done this, but I have heard stories. If people are telling stories about you to their future hostel friends then it’s probably something you shouldn’t have been doing… sorry!
Along the same lines… having sex in a hostel room where you’re staying with multiple other people is a no go too.
8. Don’t Expect People to Tip-toe Around You During the Day
Like I briefly mentioned in #1, the day time is fair game! If you’ve decided to take a nap during the day or are just sleeping in, you can’t be mad at the people ready to start there day. When it’s 8 or 9 in the morning, it’s acceptable for the other people in your dorm to be starting their day and getting ready. If you know that you’re going to be sleeping in a lot, pack an eye mask like this one and bring some earplugs like these that are easy to store and use. Most people are usually out during the day anyway, so chances are once they leave in the morning they won’t be back for a bit so you’ll have plenty of uninterrupted sleep.
9. Don’t Keep Pressing Snooze
Alarms are tricky. I can wake up to my alarm when it’s set on vibrate so I usually just do that when I am staying in hostels. Lots of people can’t though and that’s fine. Just make sure that:
- You don’t have 5 alarms set and you keep pressing snooze on them.
- Your alarm is within reach and you don’t have to search for it as it’s going off.
- You actually wake up to your alarm.
I have stayed in a few hostel rooms where someone has set an alarm at 7 in the morning and they don’t wake up. It’s awkward to have to go and shake the person who’s either in super deep drunk sleep or is just a heavy sleeper. Don’t be this person! If you know that you aren’t going to wake up early to your alarm then don’t plan anything in the morning and don’t set the alarm!
10. Practice Good Hygiene
Hostel rooms can be small for how many people are staying in them. That means that if something in the room smells, whether that be good or bad, it’s amplified. So if you’ve been out sweating in the 80-degree heat all day and smell like BO, then the whole room can probably smell it. It’s not fun to smell BO all through the night. An easy solution to this is to take a quick shower when you get back for the day.
On the note of smells, not everyone thinks your food smells good. Also, not everyone wants to be trapped in a room where you just sprayed your perfume or axe. Take it outside the room if you’re going to spray something or head to the kitchen if you’re eating. Your dorm mates will thank you!
It really just boils down to respect. Respect the others in your dorm, their belongings, their sanity. Expect the same respect for you! Hostels can be really amazing place to stay when your traveling on a budget, especially if your solo. I’ve had so many great experiences at hostels from beer tasting in Bruges to drinking wine and eating French cheese in Paris, all with the new friends I had made at those hostels.
Hostels are a great place to step out of your comfort zone if your quiet or shy because no one knows that! I personally love travelling because no one knows who you are at home, they just know you now. It’s freeing and you can present yourself any way that you want to. If you haven’t booked a hostel yet, make sure to book through Hostelworld to compare all the different hostels in your destination! I talked more about Hostelworld in part one of my Complete Guide to Hostels.
I hope this list of 10 Rules of Hostel Etiquette has been helpful! If you’ve stayed in a hostel below, let me know some of your hostel experiences!
Before you go, here are some of my latest related posts:
- How to Pick a Hostel That’s Right for You
- Eurail: Traveling Europe by Train
- Planning a Europe Trip
- Travel Europe by Bus, Plane, Bike, and Hitchhiking
Preparing for your trip? Here are 5 things I couldn’t live without when traveling:
- Anker Portable Charger (This has saved me countless times when I am navigating and my phone died)
- Sunscreen (I would recommend buying beforehand because it can be so expensive abroad)
- A Bike Lock (When sleeping at train stations, riding trains, riding buses, or anytime I was in one place for while I would bike lock my backpack)
- Tevas (It was so hot in Europe in the summer, so wearing sneakers ruined my feet! I relied on my sandals)
- Notebook (I wrote down everything I did each day and it was a great way to pass the time on trains)