I love hostels. It’s inexpensive to stay at hostels, and they’re fantastic places to meet other travelers and make connections with people around the world. But it’s also important to remember that in a hostel you’re sharing a living space with a bunch of other people, and you want to make sure to be respectful to your new friends so that they remember how awesome you are – not how you left a huge mess in the bathroom.
Here’s a short list of some Do’s and Don’ts of hostel etiquette that I hope will enhance your travels around the world.
Yes, really! Smile and say hello to new people that you haven’t met yet. If they aren’t interested in having a conversation, be respectful and don’t force anything. But a lot of people are happy to make new friends when they’re traveling in a foreign country, and this is your chance to make them feel welcome and among friends. Language barriers may make this difficult, but if you have patience and a true desire to communicate then perhaps you can still make the connection.
Your bed is your space, and you can leave whatever you want on it (mine is usually a mess!). But anything outside your bed is a space shared by everyone, and you should do your best to keep it clean and free of clutter. Some simple ways to declutter are to keep the items you aren’t using in your bags, and keep your bags out of the way. There isn’t always a lot of walking space in hostels, so I like to keep my bags under my bed or in a corner somewhere.
Invite Others to Dinner
Are you going out to dinner? Are there other hungry people in your hostel? (Yes, always.) Invite them out to dinner! Some people might like to travel alone, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like eating with other people. Friends are made over food, and people feel all warm and fuzzy when you ask them to join you for a meal.
In a shared space with a lot of people, I expect there to be a little noise from time to time. It’s great to chat, play a little music, and maybe have a party. But please, be quiet when the time is right. Don’t turn up your music so loud that people have to raise their voices to hear each other. If people are trying to sleep, try to be respectful of their desire to get some rest (especially at night!). It’s rude to sit a meter away from a room of sleeping people and have loud conversations until dawn. People may not say anything, but they won’t be happy about it either.
Leave a Mess in the Bathroom
Remember, in a hostel everyone may have to use the same bathroom. It’s awful when you make a mess and don’t clean it up. Always flush the toilet. Clean up your hair trimmings around the sink or on the floor. Don’t leave your toiletries scattered around the bathroom. And try not to get water everywhere when you shower, because if the bathroom doesn’t ventilate well there could be water on the floor for days. No one likes standing in a puddle every time they need to pee.
Bring Drugs, Dealers, Pimps, and Hookers Inside
One time I walked in on a guy snorting cocaine off the kitchen counter of our hostel, and the dealers were standing behind him waiting to see if he wanted any more. The next day the same guy brings a pimp and two prostitutes into our shared living room and has his own little party (while playing loud music, of course). I’m not trying to pass judgment on this guy. What he does is his business. It was just extremely awkward for everyone at the hostel to have these people in our private rooms and keep us from enjoying our space in a comfortable way. So please, don’t bring these kinds of people and substances into the hostel. You won’t make any friends that way.
When it comes down to it, it’s pretty easy to be a great hostel guest. Don’t be an asshole. Do try to be welcoming and maintain an atmosphere of positivity through your actions as a traveler. In a way, you represent your country when you travel, and people will remember your actions after you leave. Please do your best to make a good impression, and enjoy your next stay at a hostel.
Do you have any fun tips to want to share? Leave a comment and tell others about your experience!
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