Hostels: everything you need to know

Dear Reader,

Hostels are one of my favorite resources when traveling alone. I’ve stayed in hostels all over Europe and Asia. Here is a guide to everything you need to know if it’s your first time staying in one.

What is a hostel?

A hostel is a cheaper version of a hotel mostly aimed at young people, backpackers, and people who want to save costs on travel. In hostels instead of booking a room, you can book just one bed. Therefore you’re sharing the price of the room with the others staying in that dorm and thus save cost. It’s like the first day of summer camp when you have to sleep in a room with a bunch of strangers. Hostels are a great place to meet other travelers and make plans for the day.

If you are not into the dorm room vibe, you can also book private rooms at most hostels, which are still cheaper than hotels and offer the same benefits, but you have the privacy of your room and do not have to deal with others. You can also do this if you maybe don’t feel safe in a dorm, although I never had any problems when it came to safety.

Most hostels work like hotels, so they have a reception where they will help you with everything you need from information to contribute to organizing transport, for example, the airport. Some receptions are better than others, but they’re still a great resource.


I have a whole post in what to look for when booking a hostel which you can check out here. You can use specific hostel booking websites to find the ones suited for you. Make sure to check out the time the reception is open and if they provide towels even just for rent, so you don’t have to bring one with you. What else you need to know, just check the post.

If you are not a hundred percent comfortable with sharing a room with others, you can also check for female or male only dorms, which may make you feel a little more comfortable. I did this the first few times I traveled or when I was in countries such as Sri Lanka or other countries where I did not always feel comfortable around the men.

Chatedral, Genoa


How this is like in any other hotel, except you don’t get the key to your room, just the one you’re sharing and the key to your locker most likely. You will need to present the same documents as when checking in to a hotel. So some sort of id or passport and you may need to fill out a registration form of some sort.

It may come in handy to have your booking confirmation saved somewhere, just in case the receptionist cannot find it. This does not happen very often, but especially the first few times, it is better to be over prepared than to be missing something.

Staying at a hostel

If you’re staying at a hostel, you will most likely stay at one of their dorm rooms with other people. This could be a room for 4 or one for 12 depending on the hostel. You can pick the size of the room when booking among other things. Most hostels provide linen and some even towels. If they don’t have free towels, you can typically rent them at the reception for a minimal fee.

Now it is common courtesy to respect the bed and the stuff of the other people staying in the room. You wouldn’t want anyone touching your bed either. Also one the light is out during the night to make sure to be quiet to allow those that want to sleep. Some rooms will have shared back rooms and showers so make sure to leave these freak after using.

Generally, all these “rules” are self-explanatory. If you have ever shared a room with anyone, you would probably be doing this anyway. However, somehow there are still people who do not do this, so they have to be mentioned.

group of people on a viewpoint
Group of friends I meet at a hostel in Barcelona


I love hostels for traveling alone, saving cost, making new friends, and getting travel tips. I would always check for hostels before hotels in destinations at the moment, even when traveling with a partner since sometimes, they offer cheaper private rooms than hotels, and you still get all the benefits.

If you decide to stay at a hostel, feel free to share your experience with me in the comments below or on social media. I always love to hear from you and chat with my readers.




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