Sure, hostels are a great way to travel. They’re cheap, easy to find, and safer than couch surfing. But hostels can also be shady—there’s no knowing who’ll be sleeping in the bunk next to yours. That being said, staying at a hostel can still be an enjoyable, comfortable, cheap, and safe experience if you consider these simple do’s and don’ts.


  • Don’t leave your valuables lying around. Always keep your valuables out of sight. If the hostel you’re staying in has lockers, use them rather than locking your valuables in your suitcase. Depending on the hostel, lockers come either with the admittance fee or with an extra charge.
  • Don’t carry too much cash with you. Split up where you store you money in case one of your suitcases, or your wallet gets lost or stolen. For example, you can keep your bank cards in your wallet and some emergency cash tucked away in your suitcase.
  • Don’t pick the top bunk. Sleeping in the bottom bunk will make it easier to get in and out of your bed. Keep your luggage close, and use any outlets close to the floor to recharge your electronics.
  • Don’t be shy. All of your roommates are fellow travelers, just like you. If you can, find out more about them—who they are, where they came from, and where they’re going. You may end up making some friends you can keep in touch with.


  • Do your research beforehand. Websites like can help you find a hostel that’s within your price range, close to your travel destinations, and accommodating to your personal travel needs. You can also schedule the nights of your stay beforehand, but do this early; bunks tend to fill up fast. Also, if you get the chance, talk to the owners of the hostel to find out everything you should know about the area.
  • Do dress appropriately depending on the time of year. Hostels can get cold during the winter months, so put on some layers to stay warm.
  • Do travel in groups if you can. Traveling with friends is always much safer and more enjoyable. Use the buddy system to your advantage.
  • Do pick the type of room you want wisely. You’ll have different options ranging from room size to number of roommates. If you’re a female, consider getting a women-only room. Also, think carefully about your price range and the value of your purchase. Cheap hostel rooms can be low quality and crowded with other travelers, whereas more expensive rooms may be higher quality but also more costly.
  • Do relax, have fun, and enjoy the experience. No matter how good or bad your hostel experience is, try to have a good attitude about it. At the very least, your stay there will be memorable.

Shane Peterson

Photo by Greg Lilly cc