This is not about staying in hostels whilst you are travelling, this is about those extended stays in one particular hostel where you have either settled for a while to work or you just don’t fancy leaving because you are having far too much fun. It’s what is commonly known as being a long termer and comes with plus points as well as some hazards.
Adjusting to hostel life can become easy for us travellers. You get to live with your best buds, you usually have a bar just a few steps from your hostel bed and it’s a great way to surround yourself with positive and like minded people. Although us long-termers are usually pretty clued on when it comes to general hostel etiquette, after a while it become quite easy to settle in to your new home and forget a number of important tips to surviving the long haul.
However, it doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom, hostels are great places to be so just bear in mind a few of these points if you are considering calling a hostel home for a while.
1. Remember that it’s a shared dorm
When you haven’t had your own space for a while it is so annoying when you get used to your little bit and someone else comes along. It’s easy to get used to your bed and your space in a dorm but the essential point is it’s a dorm so people will be coming and going all the time. It isn’t your room.
2. When you have a job you become a different kind of backpacker
Hostels are a good place to live if you are looking for work in Australia and New Zealand as the rent is cheap. But when you start working you have new and different priorities. The other backpackers who share your dorm have your original priorities – which are to enjoy each stop along their travels so when they stay out late, come back in a drunken happy haze and cannot find their bed it’s because they are just having fun. Either join them, be happy for them or get yourself a private room.
3. Get out of the hostel
Something so simple is so hard. It’s easy to get into that rut of going out, coming home at 5am, sleeping until 2pm, making some food, crashing in the tv room, going out, coming home at 5am, sleeping until 2pm, making some food… you get the picture. If you don’t leave the hostel in daylight hours and do something else to keep your mind occupied you will go completely insane and may never actually leave the hostel. Do something fun and remember the reason you came to the country in the first place!
4. Try to limit the number of other long termers you sleep with
Arriving at a hostel with the intention of getting a job and sticking in one place for a while is great but if a lot of other people have the same idea pick your partner wisely. It would be pretty awful if you have to face a person every day for the following 3 months after a drunken game of ill-advised slap n’ tickle. And once again, remember that sex in a hostel involves certain precautions.
5. Be friendly to incoming backpackers
You remember what it is like when you first arrived somewhere and how grateful you were when someone who knew the score started chatting with you and invited you out for a beer. Do the same, you never know who you might meet and that’s what backpacking is all about anyway. It may be tiring at times, but you will always be left feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside after befriending somebody who may be new to backpacking.
6. Try to remember that the hostel isn’t actually yours
It’s hard when you get used to somewhere and are used to your own routine (see point 1). But ultimately your room, the hostel and its kitchen do not belong to you so share.
7. Don’t buy too much shit
My impending postage bill for the humungous amount of stuff that I am needing to send home is the equivalent of a skydive and a rafting trip in New Zealand. It’s so easy to acquire stuff though right? A word of warning from the poor, when you finally leave to get back on the road it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
8. Leave when you get miserable
When you start moaning all the time and saying that you’re bored it’s time to move on!
9. Remember to actually move on
When you have saved your money – get out and get moving. Do the travelling that you planned to do. Try not to spend your entire savings on nights out and food in a hostel you have been living in the entire time you have been away.
10. It’s all about the drama
A dorm room is like the Big Brother house. It’s not easy living with lots of people, tensions rise and the gossip starts. In a hostel, 3 weeks worth of drama happens in 1 night. Remember to laugh and remind yourself that it is a hostel and living with lots of random people is an extraordinary situation and it’s best to go with the flow.
Staying in a place for a few months is the best way to really experience a place, you get to know the local spots and the city really does become like home. Just remember that there are other awesome places and people out there, so surviving as a long termer doesn’t have to be hard.