Travel

First time giving a hostel stay a try.

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  • Jun 20th, 2019 3:09 pm
[OP]
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Mar 11, 2004
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Mississauga

First time giving a hostel stay a try.

So I will be in Europe for 3 weeks for the first time, also as a first time I would like to keep to hostels and shared rooms on top of it all a go.
What are the do's and don'ts from you experienced hostelers? What to bring, and what to leave behind?
Another thing for such a trip, backpacking and site seeing, should I even bring a small laptop or just be good with a phone?
For those that have done a trip like this, share your experiences and what have you learned for "next time".
13 replies
Deal Addict
Jul 21, 2005
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Alberta
Bring Earplug and be prepared for people to be angry at you if you arrive super late at night or leave early in the morning if you make any kind of noise. I have stayed in a few in Europe and some people just give 0 fks about other people and make a ton of noise. Mind you this was in a 14 person dorm.

Really ear plugs is most you would need, I would bring a silk bed sheet thing as well. Also for the most part you can get away with a smart phone for everything, not always the easiest thing to do but very possible.
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Nov 23, 2015
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Winnipeg
If you are the sort of person who loves being a houseguest or having houseguests at your place, then you're going to love hostelling.

Personally I am not crazy about hostelling. Didn't care for it much even when I was younger. Nothing bad happened, just not to my tastes. After a couple of experiences I always made sure to have enough money for a private room (even if it involved a shared washroom) or I just didn't go.

Pack as light as humanly possible, don't even consider bringing a laptop.
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Oct 2, 2006
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I no longer stay at hostels, but they were my go-to accommodations during my backpacking days. As what has been said, there will always be people who don't give a damn about anyone but themselves, especially at party hostels. Don't forget to bring earplugs and/or eye masks.

That being said, hostels vary tremendously in vibe, personality, etc. so choose carefully. There are "boutique" hostels that are small, intimate, and very stylish. These are the type that gets highly ranked in HostelWorld or HostelBookers, and they get fully booked quickly due to their limited number of beds. Most of the best hostels that I've stayed at fall in this category.
Another category is the big, "institutional" types that are purpose-built as a hostel. These are like the Marriots of the hostel world. These are usually the largest hostels in the city, most likely a member of either HI or YHA organizations. These are popular amongst schools on field trips and European families, so expect noisy kids. They're not bad and some of them can be great. You may be tempted to buy an HI or YHA membership card for discounts, but don't buy it as there may be better hostels in the area.
Another category, which I have learned to avoid, is the "party" hostel. These have a popular bar within the hostel itself and are very popular amongst the backpacker crowd. These get booked up quickly as well as these are the first choice amongst the party-types. If you want somewhere quiet, then avoid these. But if you want to stay up late and party amongst the backpacker crowd, then these should be your first choice.
Then, there's the rest which don't really fall within the above categories. There are hostels that I've been to that feels like and are managed like a hotel, with the exception of the rooms being shared. They don't feel like "boutique" hostels, nor are they affiliated with HI or YHA, nor are they party hostels.


As for laptops and phones, there are people who bring them and leave them unsecured, and it's fine. I personally would never bring a laptop during a backpacking trip (due to the weight), but I've seen people bring them and leave them at the hostel with no problems.
Last edited by heymikey on Jun 18th, 2019 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Apr 26, 2004
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Follow the Golden Rule and you should be fine. Give your roommates respect and hopefully they will reciprocate. My great hostel experiences vastly outweigh the bad.
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Mar 21, 2010
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heymikey wrote: Then, there's the rest which don't really fall within the above categories. There are hostels that I've been to that feels like and are managed like a hotel, with the exception of the rooms being shared. They don't feel like "boutique" hostels, nor are they affiliated with HI or YHA, nor are they party hostels.
There's also the kind that only exist to be as cheap as humanly possible. Sometimes in expensive (for tourists) cities like Hong Kong and Singapore, there are huge old buildings just full of these, often with very basic offerings ("we try to not give you bed bugs, but eh, things happen sometimes") and sometimes very questionable safety standards (bare wires hanging out etc.). I'd avoid these, personally.
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Aug 12, 2004
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My one and only ever hostel experience was bunked in the same room with 4 other people, bad smell from one guy who also was the loudest snorer ever (which one guy so fed up told him to sleep on his side not his back). I eventually somehow fell asleep when I was woken up in pain and seeing these tiny bugs on me in my daze in the middle of the night, to find that they were fricking termites that I had to pull out of me in the show at several were digging in my skin. I also developed a bad rash over the next week.

Go right ahead!
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Sep 6, 2002
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Get a good anker or aukey battery pack 10,000 mah. Plugs are often at a premium in a room. You can leave the battery charging during the day
Autocorrect sucks
[OP]
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Mar 11, 2004
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What I am getting from you guys is that airbnb would be a much better option for not much more $$? Or a hotel that would be on the cheaper side but offer breakfast?
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Mar 21, 2010
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cRaZyRaVr wrote: What I am getting from you guys is that airbnb would be a much better option for not much more $$? Or a hotel that would be on the cheaper side but offer breakfast?
It depends on why you're considering it. Are you actually interested in the "hostel experience" (the novelty of it, or because you want to share a room, meet people, be forced to be more social etc.) as a benefit, or is it to save money? If it's to save money, is it because you have to (i.e. you physically won't be able to afford to go on the trip if you spend any more on accommodations than in a hostel), or is it because like most of us you just want to get maximum value?

If you're not specifically drawn to the hostel experience and you can reasonably afford to spend more, I'd go with a cheap Holiday Inn Express type hotel. I like to think of it as - how much are you spending (both $ and time) on this trip, and when are you likely to be able to go again? How would you feel if you didn't really enjoy the trip that much because you stayed somewhere you really disliked, when realistically you could have afforded something better?
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Jun 12, 2019
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I PMd you.

Id like to add that hotels have a different vibe and crowd of people, and also have privacy if you choose to opt for that.

Hostels also have private rooms in addition to dorm bed style rooms that are usually bunkbeds etc.

You pay for what you get usually for hostels, no frill ones cost dirt cheap but you may have things that you "pay as you use" like showers, breakfast, etc.

Staff at hostels "can be" good resources for local things to see or do, but not always...

Take your own bedsheet/pillow cover (maybe 2 if one is dirty) in case you might need it...

Get a comfy backpack and test it around town before going. Sweat is usually a big issue. If you decide to so luggage instead (and there are backpack-rolling-luggage-suitcases too) use spinner 8 wheel ones and not the 4 wheels. Theyre horrible for only cobblestone and rough roads or sidewalks...but great to keep from bejg exhausted while moving between places. Better yet get get large "baby stroller type wheels" cause they can go almost anywhere, and imagine cobblestone is ok too...
[OP]
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Mar 11, 2004
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Manatus wrote: It depends on why you're considering it. Are you actually interested in the "hostel experience" (the novelty of it, or because you want to share a room, meet people, be forced to be more social etc.) as a benefit, or is it to save money? If it's to save money, is it because you have to (i.e. you physically won't be able to afford to go on the trip if you spend any more on accommodations than in a hostel), or is it because like most of us you just want to get maximum value?

If you're not specifically drawn to the hostel experience and you can reasonably afford to spend more, I'd go with a cheap Holiday Inn Express type hotel. I like to think of it as - how much are you spending (both $ and time) on this trip, and when are you likely to be able to go again? How would you feel if you didn't really enjoy the trip that much because you stayed somewhere you really disliked, when realistically you could have afforded something better?
This. I can afford to stay at a hotel if I want to. Thats not an issue at all, and I have been doing this for many years. I usually travel alone and do things on my own, but this trip I want something different, I think. This trip I am also going in without a plan at all. After I land, I will start to figure things out. The only thing I am booking is a stay for the first couple nights to catch my bearings and get over jetlag.
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May 22, 2005
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