You may lose your privacy, cleanliness, and any form of routine you were used to back home, but after living in hostels for half a year, I wouldn't have it any other way. Coming up on my sixth month anniversary of leaving Canada and entering the realm of backpacking I can honestly say that I've had the most amazing six months of my life. I also thought I'd share some wisdom that can only be gained by countless sleepless nights in the hostel world.
1. Go easy on the goon
Don't get me wrong, goon has its perks. It's cheap, easy to drink, and gets you drunk. But, before you slap your goon bag, double-check your schedule for the next day. Goon is also notorious for slapping you with a nice hangover the next morning. If you have a day trip or long bus ride ahead I'd advise you to steer clear.
2. If you don't ask, you don't get
There is always a shower with the best water pressure, or a stove top that heats better than the rest, make your stay more enjoyable by simply asking.
3. Make requests
If you're big on bottom bunks or prefer a female dorm make requests, don't hesitate to ask reception staff if you have room preferences.
4. Spoil yourself
Once in a while, if your budget allows, book a private room. After several nights of being woken up by roommates in the middle of the night, you will appreciate having some private space and your own bathroom. Some private rooms come with TVs, towels, kitchenettes - absolute luxury I tell ya!
5. Remember that you're backpacking
Yes, you will come across spiders, the odd cockroach and even lizards and worse in some countries. Yes, bathrooms will sometimes be dirty (lots of people are using them). Yes, you will be woken up in the middle of the night when you have a 7 a.m. bus to catch. It's important to remember that you're paying less than half the price of a hotel room, and when it all comes down to it; you're here for the experience. Try to make light of situations that might make you wince, after all you're having the time of your life.
6. Pack smart
Longer charging cords for your electronics will come in handy. Many dorms have few powerpoints (plug sockets). Ear plugs might look ridiculous but are necessary on nights you need to catch some sleep. Flip flops for the showers are essential. Packing light is obvious, and definitely pays off in the long run. Especially if you're travelling in hot weather or along small beach towns you'll end up wearing the same clothes over and over again.
7. Eat cheap
Eat food in groups and cook together in the hostel kitchen (good way to make friends), go to local markets, ask your hostel for cheap eats nearby, and look for half-price fast food at the end of the day. Many places will have closing-down sales - especially at bakeries or sushi joints.
8. Go with the flow
Donât make plans. Be flexible when it comes to socializing with people in your dorm or in the hostel. This way you will be likely to meet so many awesome people from all over the world, you wonât want to have preset plans every day.
9. Put yourself out there
Don't be afraid to try something new. Whether it's going to a bar by yourself, skydiving, whitewater rafting, or shark diving, now's the time to push your boundaries.
10. Safe sex
You'll thank me later.