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First Time Staying In Hostel Guide

by Marina Utami

You gotta admit, Hostel concept is a tremendous idea! Not only it could save more on your travel budget, but also a good way to meet up with fellow travellers. I still remember my first time staying in hostel in Malaysia. It was an unexpected trip to Melaka as I thought I wouldn’t spend a night there. The hostel was quite big and located directly under the roof. It was a mixed dorm and I was a bit scared as it was my first time ever to stay there. But hey, turns out the there was only a Japanese girl there and we became acquaintances after that. We had a good time at supper and keep in contact afterwards. I know this case is an absolute exception. I had a couple of bad experiences staying in a hostel, the worst one was when I had it at Brussels. Nonetheless, I heard plenty of stories newbie travellers had bad experiences and quite a shock during their first time staying at the hostel. And so I decided to write a post on what you should know about the hostel and how to get the best stay during your time.

First thing first. Let me introduce the real concept of a hostel. A hostel is a budget accommodation, mainly for backpackers to rent a bed in a dorm of 4, 6, 10 or even 12 beds. I even found a hotel that accommodates 20 beds for backpackers in Da Nang! That also means that you have to share bathroom, kitchen, and the room you’re gonna sleep in together with the others. Sounds sociable place to stay yeah? And the good thing is that this hostel concept has been known worldwide and you can easily book them in many digital platforms.

I always like to book the hostel myself especially in European and Western countries. But it can be different if you were going to an island in South East Asia, as they have so many local guesthouses that you don’t even have to book hostel first. I personally like to see the room myself. Again, it always different in many cases, but it’s nice to have some backup details with you whenever you’ll go to new destination.

What you should do before you go

  1. Browse through a couple of hostel site to check availability and your budget. Read people’s recommendations and their reviews. In case things go wrong, write down other hostel address as a backup too.
  2. Check out discounts or voucher you can always apply.
  3. Other things you might enjoy is that you gotta know if there’s any cool hostel around you – some people decorate and have a unique hostel experience that you would never want to miss out!
  4. Choose your room wisely. Female or male dorm? 4 beds/8 beds dormitory? As a solo female traveller, I personally feel so much safer with the female dorm – as I think that male dorm usually smells and untidy. More beds mean more people, and it can also be one your considerations.
  5. I personally like the bottom bunk better. Easy to hop in and off.
  6. Always pick a hostel with lockers to put your valuable things. I even bring my own lock just to make sure.
  7. See if they provide free breakfast or even if they have a kitchen. You can always buy stuff from the supermarket to cook your own food.
  8. Some people even prefer to have a bar in the hostel. Beware of the hostel party. If you were looking for a quiet place to sleep, make sure to check if they have any kind of events at their place. Surely you don’t want to get disturbed, eh?


What you should bring

  • Earplugs. Cos you might never know who will snore the loudest.
  • Lock.
  • Sarong as the cover on your bed sheets. Some people even bring their own extra linen.
  • Towel. Some hostel doesn’t provide this, so it’s better if you bring a lightweight towel.
  • Write down the address on your notebook and mobile phone to call in case you got lost.
  • Check out the google maps how to get the hostel, and pin the place.
  • Photocopy of your Passport. They tend to hold on to your passport for insurance, so it always good to have a backup ID with you.

What you should do when you arrive

  • Learn the hostel etiquette. Read through and ask the receptionist about what you should know.
  • Get to know the place. Find out where’s the toilet and shower, see if there’s any back door you can use, etc.
  • Make sure you know their check in and out time.
  • Make friends! Get to know the person that sleep across your bed.
  • Don’t make noise, you are sharing the room with other people.
  • I personally like to get showered as fast as I can – which means wake up earlier than anybody else. It’s better than waiting for your turn and you missed out your day.
  • See if they have a free tour guide or any other tour that you can enjoy. They usually give out a cheaper price or even better, some discount! I had my hot-air balloon experience in Cappadocia with 20% discount since I book the room with the hostel I was staying in.

Underground Cave Hostel in Cappadocia Goreme

I personally like to stay in a hostel since it’s hassle free and you can always meet other travellers from other countries. I met so many cool solo female travellers in a hostel and ended up being such a long lasting good friend. Another thing that I usually do is to have a local experience by doing Couchsurfing. It’s always good to have a local friend with you in a foreign place. During my long term travels, I usually have a plan on how my stay can be divided; a couple of days being a Couchsurfer, a couple of days at the Hostel and a couple of days staying in the Guesthouse/Motel just to tidy up my backpack and have my own space for a change. I realise that some people would prefer to have their own space and have their own comfort during their vacay time. Not many people are extroverts as I am. But if you could make some good network during your trip, then why not? 🙂

Marina with her couchsurfing host in Bangkok

Now, are you ready for your hostel experience?

© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.


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Atim at EffiFit June 29, 2017 - 1:04 am

Thanks for all the details. Hostels have always made me nervous, but maybe it’s because of the movie Hostel, lol. I also really like my own space and bathroom.

Marina Utami June 29, 2017 - 10:42 am

Hahahaha I know what you mean cos I also watched that movie! Its good to divide your time though – travel with your own space and travel with new friends 🙂

Sofeena Yates June 29, 2017 - 11:31 pm

I LOVE HOSTELS! All of my friends say ”ew I’d never stay in one” but they’re missing out! Great blog. I’ll be back 🙂

notthatboringaccountant June 29, 2017 - 11:31 pm

this was really informative! thank you for sharing <3

Dzulkhulaifah June 30, 2017 - 4:00 am

I love staying in hostel since the first time travel to singapore. I stayed at the hive hostel, they had a very interesting interiors.

Sab June 30, 2017 - 4:07 am

Thanks for the tips! Meeting other travelers indeed is the best part of staying at a hostel. 🙂

Part of that world June 30, 2017 - 7:04 am

Thanks for this post. I will be going on a solo backpacking in southeast asia soon. This will be very helpful.

Dzulkhulaifah Rahmat June 30, 2017 - 7:13 am

I love staying in hostel since i went to singapore couple years ago. I stayed in The Hive hostel at serangoon road.
Very very complete tips, thank you.

Ety Budiharjo June 30, 2017 - 3:26 pm

Staying in hostel? Why not? Thanks for tips stay in hostel…

Dazzlingzest July 1, 2017 - 4:50 am

I have never been to hostel. Thanks for your nice tips

O. Benson Ben July 1, 2017 - 9:42 am

I am new to the travel scene and I have been looking at ways to save up. Thank you for this, I never thought about hostels before. All the reviews are always so dark and scary I practically gave up.

Amanda July 2, 2017 - 1:44 pm

I have to admit staying in a hostel has always been a bit daunting to me. But when I stayed at one on a trip to Barcelona it was a great experience. I met lots of great people and had access to a kitchen and the staff were really helpful. I’d do it again for sure!

Summer Bowers July 5, 2017 - 10:22 am

This was super helpful! I’ve never stayed in a hostel because I find them intimidating, but your blog put them in such a great light. Great writing


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