Hostel Etiquette

Making Friends and Travelling – Do’s & Dont’s of Hostel Living

Hostel Etiquette or simply put, ‘good behaviour‘ should be your focus before globetrotting. If you want to make friends while travelling, and more importantly keep them for life, this is the blog for you. Hostel Etiquette is one of the most important parts of research you should undertake before heading out, second only to ‘what to pack’ and ‘safety’. We’ll get to these topics in the coming months.

I’m prompted to write this blog today, sitting here, at our local beach, after a long morning at the hostel. It’s been 3 weeks visiting family and friends that I arrive back in beautiful Agnes Water and reunite with our wonderful staff. Some newly arrived and some who’ve remained on during these crazy times. There are also new guests to greet and a wonderful sense of rejuvenation after almost 100 millilitres of drenching rain. Again that feeling of living and working in paradise is overwhelming.

Not a 5-star resort!

Furthermore, it is important to recognise before going any further that a hostel is NOT a 5-star hotel hence the budget price charged upon check-in. Before going to your hostel, be sure to check out the facilities and services offered so your expectations do not exceed what you are met with upon arrival. This way you will ensure you choose a hostel suited to your needs – more about that later.

Be sure to check out the facilities offered

Back to why I’m prompted here today to write ‘this particular blog’. Well, if you’ve ever stayed at a hostel, whether it be momentarily or for an extended period of time, you will undoubtedly know there are many ‘spoken’ and even more ‘unspoken’ rules when discussing hostel etiquette.

It is crucial to know these rules. Do your research and be sure to follow them if you want to make, and for that matter keep, your new found friends. I’m going to address these below. If you are a newbie to hostel living, I recommend you familiarise yourself with these customs and protocols before embarking on your next exciting travel adventure.

What makes people tick?

Secondly, and most importantly, I hear some crazy tales from the previous evening that makes me wonder??? ‘Why do some wanderlust travellers ignore the basic social graces, p’s & q’s of their fellow buddy’s’? Now you’re probably wondering what could our young sightseers possibly do that is so ‘cringe-worthy’? What do some do that is so disrespectful that would prompt a blog?? If you’ve never visited a hostel, fair enough, you’ll find out. If you have, well you’re probably coming up with your very own list as you read this. Although I won’t go into detail, when you make a mess, it is just rotten and unfair to paying guests and working staff to leave it behind you. So, in the hope that this helps hostels around the world, please read and adhere!

1. Clean up after yourself – Hostel Etiquette Numero Uno

It’s the number 1 of all hostel etiquette for a reason.

Obvious? Yes, of course, but that does not mean it is always how the human race works. Invariably, every hostel will have signs around it’s premises asking guests to tidy up their dishes, strip beds after use, remove their food from the communal fridge before leaving and generally put rubbish and recycling in bins provided. Signs you say!!! Yes! We even, to break the various language barriers, explain this number one rule to each guest and translate them in different languages – just to be sure of course! If you’d love to hear a couple of really cool guys (who fancy themselves as movie stars and…. maybe…. Chris Hemsworth??), and their take on hostel rules check out this link below.

2. Talk to other travellers

A close up of faces to connect the idea of meeting and talking with friends and fellow travellers
These bananas happily work in our hostel – keep them happy by being curious and….. cleaning up after yourselves!

These people are by far, the most knowledgeable cool kids you will find along your journey. They’ve often already been to the best places, done some totally incredible tours, found secret locations and more often than not – made mistakes that you can learn from. They also know a lot about volunteering in a hostel.

If you are travelling solo, it will sometimes be nice to socialise with the other guests and there will be times you just want to be alone. If you want to do some cool things when you arrive in Agnes Water you should follow the link below.

3. Pack the night before

Don’t you just love that sound of an alarm going off at 5am? What….. no??? Even worse, the sound of someone else’s alarm sounding at 5am and snoozing…. and snoozing….. and well, you get my point. Firstly, pack the night before if you have an early bus or flight, put your phone alarm on silent and be as quiet as possible. Your room mates may have arrived late the evening before from a big day tour or a late check-in.

4. Phone Etiquette

I don’t know about you but I always feel conscious of what I’m saying on the phone when in public. Obviously, the conversation is between myself and the person on the other end of the line. It’s not always possible to cut the discussion short or to be somewhere private. However I do encourage you to do your best when in a hostel.

How do you still stay in contact without ditching your phone?

Headphones are our Number 4 of Hostel Etiquette and are a great start as, only half of the conversation is audible. At the very least, keep the conversation short. Absolutely don’t talk on the phone in your room after 10 pm and if possible find a quiet spot somewhere so that your conversation is kept as private as possible. The hostel manager or one of the staff can probably point you in the direction of a quieter, more private location. You wouldn’t believe the conversations I’ve heard and believe me, I wish I hadn’t!


However, if it’s not yours – don’t touch it!

Hostel Etiquette in a hostel kitchen – this should be a whole blog on it’s own but no time for that! The kitchen usually offers a FREE SHELF, and you may often find a treasure chest of FREEBIES to choose from of pre-loved goodies, donated by previous guests. So be sure to get your hands on these, particularly if you’re on a budget and most importantly if you love the idea of recycling and saving the planet.

But….. travellers beware, there are many people who just love the idea of other people’s food in their cooking, other peoples underwear on their bodies (I kid you not!!!!!!) and another persons earphones in their ears! Yuk!!! I know, but it absolutely happens. Whether you’re on the bus, plane, train, tour or cooking in the kitchen, ensure your stuff is labelled clearly and leave other travellers belongings alone! It’s just not cool to do otherwise.

6. Security – Have your own Padlock

To demonstrate the idea of bringing your own lock for the lockers in dorm rooms

Security is different in every hostel I’ve ever been in. Some hostels are so ‘locked up’ that I have wondered ‘why?’ It is concerning when you walk in through security gates and have to sign into your own room, followed by a guy with a rifle lol (just kidding!). Obviously, each traveller knows how much security they need to feel safe. In my experience, most of our guests and staff love the ‘Open door policy’. Why? From what I understand, it just seems more like home. That does not mean sacrifice safety and security. So, again, check out what the hostel offers and make sure it suits, don’t blame the hostel if it isn’t what you wanted.

Keeping your stuff secure ……. if your not locked in a prison!

Many hostels will have lockers. If you have your own lock, then, you’re sorted. Label everything and just be smart about where you leave your important belongings. If you’re really concerned about something, ask reception to look after it for you. We do this all the time! We’ve all travelled and we know how important it is to keep things like your phone, devices, money, passport, camera and jewellery secure.

7. Check out the Hostel’s ‘Noise Policy’

It’s great getting together with fellow wanderers, just not at others expense.

Most hostels will have a ‘Noise Policy’ to protect guests and the surrounding community. This is typically 10 pm but it’s always a good idea to check with hostel staff or management.

So, you’ve just met up with some really cool travellers, you’ve settled in for the night with some goon, beers and a deck of cards. Or perhaps, you’re all sitting around the fire sharing travel stories. There probably isn’t a better time in your life. I’m fortunate enough to have been a part of all these amazing times where travellers go from being strangers to lifelong friends. I’m happy to say that my friends are living all around the globe and I treasure every one of them.

Meeting new friends whilst travelling is probably the most important and memorable part of your travel experience second only to the experiences you create, be sure to NOT impose on your fellow travellers by being that person who keeps everyone up at night with; loud laughter, drunken and disorderly behaviour or loud music. You may not realise this but many hostels are in residential areas and therefore are in the vicinity to families with children, working adults and the retired. Not only that, your fellow guests will not appreciate your noise outside of the hostel’s acceptable noise limits, especially if they have an early morning tour or check-out.

8. Be mindful of when you turn lights on in your dorm room

It’s a small thing, but in the middle of the night after a big night out or at 5 am when your peacefully sleeping after an all day tour, it can be literally, blinding!

So what should you do?
Bring a sleep mask with you to help you sleep in a room that may have light from other travellers
For a small investment, a sleeping mask can make all the difference

A sleeping mask is an essential item to pack. Sometimes that light on in the morning is unavoidable, so if you have your handy little face mask, it should help. If you are the one getting up at 5 am to catch that flight, then a flashlight on your key-chain or your phone flashlight will be much appreciated by your fellow, sleepy room mates.

9. Check out the Hostels Recycling & Sustainability Procedures

If you’re not up with saving the planet, now is the time to get with the program!!! Most hostels do some kind of recycling. I’m heartened to see many more hostels getting on board with growing their own vegetables, keeping chickens, recycling EVERYTHING and banning simple items like plastic water bottles and plastic bags.

Don’t think that if your hostel isn’t doing this that you need to find yourself some new accommodation. It is often a community issue and it takes more than a few bins to make changes. Check it out and do what you can to be a part of their contributions to the planet. We are all, in some part doing our bit for mother nature.

10. Get a room!!!! Well a private one anyway 🙂

A dorm room is not always private – keep that in mind when sharing with someone 🙂

On a not so serious note, we all know what happens in a hostel dorm room, whether you like it or not. They are not the most private of places. At the time you’re thinking, well…. actually you’re not thinking right! You’re certainly not thinking about the other guests in your dorm or the looks you’re going to get the next day.

Most hostels offer smaller dorms, or private rooms. If this doesn’t fit in your budget then it’s all about timing. Wait till everyone has gone to the beach or the pub then go for it! There are many options but most of all be considerate of your other dorm buddies and you will get along perfectly. At bare minimum, choose the bottom bunk!

11. Last but not least……

Write an awesome review

So now you know, check out the facilities and services offered before arriving. Research the hostel social media pages and website. This will give you an idea of what to expect prior to arrival. Given all this, there should not be too many surprises. The only surprises you may find are often out of the hostels control and they are things like, people waking you in the middle of the night, other people’s mess and so on.

Therefore, before writing your review consider if the hostel met your ‘reasonable’ expectations and, if there was anything you didn’t like, perhaps speak to a staff member about whether there is something that could be improved. This will always be appreciated as opposed to being angry online for the world to see. Hostels need your support, so go ahead and write what you loved about them!

So, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your hostel etiquette? Would you be prompted to share this to ensure other travellers you meet also have good hostel etiquette?

Next Blog Topic: How does a hostel work during Covid-19? Social distancing and hygiene at it’s finest.