Real Life in Hostels

Real Life in Hostels

I’ve been in more hostels than I can count since I’ve started traveling, and have gained some perspective on the behaviors of a typical backpacker whilst living around others. Here are some simple tips to help you have a civil stay with people who may have grown up quite differently than yourself! Real life in hostels can be crazy, but it can work! 


Ok, guys. many hostel rooms are smaller than they should be, filled with already smelly backpackers suffocating their peers. Some hostels don’t allow the windows to open due to avoiding the problem of jumpers. So WHY, in anyone’s right mind would they spray strong perfume or spray deodorant? If you’re great enough for the scent to not affect you, at least have a little consideration for your newfound friends (or enemies) and step out of the room before you spray.

Noise levels

Occasionally backpackers do sleep, contrary to popular belief. At least, the smart ones do. And these ones would appreciate if your 3am conversations were held outside the room or at least with an effort to whisper. Holding a full volume at 3pm with your friend while your 9 roommates are trying to sleep is a great way to have something sleep-thrown at your head. Just be a little considerate and try to keep the noise down when entering and exiting. This includes not letting the door slam when you forget your washcloth five times in a row on the way to the bathroom.

“Your mom isn’t here to clean up your mess.”

Use this as your motto in hostels. Throwing your 80L backpack, two suitcases, and three extra bags all over your hostel room floor is a great way to get stuff broken or crushed by your roommates whose pathway to their bed is blockaded by your manmade mountain. Many hostels offer lockers. Pile as much stuff in, and then claim a bed by putting some luggage on said bed. Other roommates don’t know which bed is yours if your stuff is taking up the floor space in front of four beds. This invalidates your anger at losing your favorite bed when you get back to the room.


If you are perfectly aware of the fact that you snore like a wildebeest, yet have not made any attempt to remedy the situation in any way, please don’t book a room with 12 beds. You will not only:

  • cause a rebellion 
  • infuriate your eleven roommates
  • they will keep you awake just as much as you’re keeping them awake.

Sometimes snoring like an elephant can mean an underlying medical condition you should probably have checked out. When my ear plugs are completely ineffective against your snoring, you either need to train yourself to sleep on your side, or find a solution. Believe me, angry roommates will throw anything in the vicinity (REAL LIFE).

Locking Doors

If you’re in a share room, chances are there will be some valuables in the room. Whether they be your own or someone else’s, no one is happy when their stuff gets stolen because of the carelessness of someone else. Always make sure your door is:

  • shut behind you
  • closed completely
  • locked

Also in the case that a hostel has single bathrooms (!!), always remember to lock the door behind you. There’s no saving you while you’re sitting on the toilet and someone barges in. From experience, people don’t generally like to knock before they try to break the door down. If your door is locked, there is no worry of this. Just lock it, and stay calm when drunken hostel mates try to break the doorknob getting in.

What are your hostel experiences?  Do you have any go to tips to survive life in a hostel? Leave a comment!

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  1. I highly recommend it too. It’s a lot of fun when you’re young and the cheapest way you can live as a backpacker. Combine that with street food and you can vagabond for a long time on the cheap.
    What is the average cost of a one night stay in most hostels? I realize they’re all different but what would you consider a good price in Europe? Priced in Euros. Thanks for this, really enjoyed it.

    • Hostels are getting more expensive these days as they’re offering more and the better ones attract those who are looking for some quiet or a nice place to stay! Throughout Europe, you can find a hostel ranging from 10-30 euros a night. It’s very important to read reviews on the very cheap hostels, as they might be incredibly basic and not entirely clean. But it’s cheap and only for a short time!

  2. What an interesting experience. I have never done this, but it sounds like a great way to get to meet some new people. How much does it cost to stay in a Hostel? Do you have any idea where the term Hostel comes from? I haven’t heard of this idea too much in the US. Maybe it’s available and I just don’t know about it.

    I can see how it could be interesting and yet it could also wear on a person. Sharing a room with a lot of other people isn’t the easiest thing to do. Enjoy your travels!

    • It’s definitely a great way to meet other travelers of all ages, and a cheap alternative to hotels. Depending on where you are in the world it can cost anywhere from $10 to upwards of $40 for one night, in a shared room. There are room shares anywhere from 4 beds to 32(!). Private rooms are available as well for a much higher cost.

      They are available in the US, but if we’ve never needed them, we would never know they exist! It does get old, especially if you’re tired of the noise, but that’s part of being a backpacker!

  3. hey, this was truly helfpul. I have slept in Hostels from time to time and I have to say I encountered many of the problems you mentioned. When possible I try to book rooms with just a few other people in it, but sometimes it’s not. I really liked the part about snoring. I remember one guy in Ireland snoring all night long. Even putting my super-strong ear plugs didn’t help a bit. It was really annoying and some other people in the room were really screaming at him, which made the noise even worse. So please guy, listen to the advice here and be a good “hosteler” 🙂

    • Hostels are definitely an experience! I try to be as budget conscious as possible when booking hostels, and that usually causes me to book 8-10 bed rooms most often.

      Haha! That sounds very similar to the hostel snoring story I have in Australia!

  4. I’ve always wondered what it was like to stay in a hostel, and after reading your post I can see it’s definitely an interesting experience lol. But you’ve also provided some very good and helpful tips for if I were to ever stay in a hostel.

    They’re generally much cheaper than hotels, so I can definitely see the appeal for backpackers, and it’s a chance to meet some new people too.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences through the pictures…the shower one made me laugh…not awkward at all! lol

    What’s the best hostel experience you’ve had so far?

    • It can be pretty crazy in a hostel! I have tons of stories from all the hostels I’ve stayed in. They are fun though. They’re cheap enough and some nights you can get a good night’s sleep, so it’s worth it!

      In that particular hostel, there were pictures of buff guys in all of the showers, but I mainly stuck with this dude!

      My favorite experience was at a hostel in the Blue Mountains. Not only was the place so welcoming and fun, I made great friends with the staff and made a ton of friends in my 12 bed room. It felt like home and was just an amazing experience.

  5. I am yet to stay in a hostel. But I have heard a lot about it from my friends. The basic do’s and dont’s explained by you are must haves. Thanks for share the article.

  6. Hey Lauren,

    This is really funny. I’ve never stayed in a hostel due to all the horror stories I’ve heard from friends, and it seems like you’ve confirmed a few of them! lol, you’re braver than I am. Is that pic of the shower really from your snap chat?? Hilarious! Great post, keep them coming 🙂

    • I have TONS of good and bad hostel stories! All fun memories though 🙂 It’s a cheap way to live and that is what attracts so many backpackers. Yup, it is! I like to update my friends from all over the world with the strange things I come across while traveling 😉

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