[display_ad adunit="square" position="A" class="widget"]
[display_ad adunit="sky" position="B" class="widget"]

Staying In A Hostel For The First Time While Backpacking

Staying In A Hostel For The First Time While Backpacking

Backpacking is a carefree, flexible, and inexpensive way to see the world. Experienced backpackers make frequent use of low-cost overnight facilities provided by hostels around the world.

Hostels enable travelers a relatively safe and comfortable environment where they can meet new friends, sleep in a comfortable bed, and sometimes prepare their own food. Traveling hostel-style isn’t as simple as tossing a light pack over one’s shoulders, arming oneself with a map and heading out, though.

Selecting a hostel for the newbie backpacker can be a bit daunting. To make sure a first-timer’s experience is a good one, a few tips can be helpful.

Hostels 101

What is a hostel, exactly? The Hostel Handbook outlines the history and variety of hostels available. Most provide inexpensive dorm-like beds with kitchen privileges and lockers. Low-cost shouldn’t be confused with low-class, though. A majority of hostels are attractive, clean, and comfortable. They can offer several great amenities, and are usually pretty groovy places where backpackers connect with fellow travelers, catch up on local offerings, and gain new travel companions.

Some hostels are only available to specific groups of people such as students or senior citizens. Each hostel has different amenities, security provisions, sleeping arrangements, and cooking options. Making sure to select the right hostel will contribute to an extremely memorable and enjoyable trip, or could leave one feeling quite discontented. Travel smart!

Before You Go

Reading a single paragraph in an online travel guide will provide a general idea about a hostel, but given that amenities, conditions, and cultures all vary wildly it pays to ask about specifics up front. Hosteling International provides extensive information for travelers.

Questions to Ask

Is there a safe for valuables? Are the dorms single-sex or are sexes mixed? Does the price include breakfast and/or kitchen facilities? Are there any additional charges besides the cost quoted? How many bathrooms and showers are there compared to the number of guests the hostel can accommodate? Are linens and towels provided? Are there smoke detectors and emergency exits? Is there a lights-out curfew to assure one’s ability to get a good night’s rest if desired? Is this the party-goer’s hostel or the get-8-hours-sleep hostel?

Make Reservations

Newbies might think it sounds cool to step off a train or plane and set off to spontaneously find the best hostel of the area, but chances are the best hostel is going to be full of people who took the time to book ahead. Once a traveler has some experience, the “winging it” style might be an option, but for first-timers reservations are recommended.


– Relax and take time to meet your dorm mates.

– If the hostel offers upgraded accommodations, keep in mind the shared common rooms are where many friendships have originated.

– Chat it up with anyone as they will naturally want to chat with you.


Backpackers share some hostel taboos on Travel Blog. Some key points include:

– Use the hostel safe and secure all property. Most other guests are safe and trustworthy, but one bad apple can spoil an entire journey.

– Don’t put things under the mattress or pillow. Guests should keep valuables on their person or under lock and key.

Enjoy the Hostel Experience

Traveling via hostels creates many opportunities to share meals, connect with others, explore new places with travel companions, and to learn from other guests who have already been where you will go next. Planning ahead, knowing what to expect, and using a few common sense security precautions will assure your experience is a great one.

Starla Quinn is a travel blogger based in Houston, TX. Whether she’s staying in a hostel or traveling in her luxury RV, she loves finding new adventures and seeing different parts of the country.

-Subscribe to get free updates via RSS or email, follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook-

About the author

-Vagabond, editor and founder of  EVASER. Find on Facebook, follow via Twitter or view his personal site.

View all articles by SIXVASER
[display_ad adunit="leader" position="B"]