In this little series, I’m going to be sharing all my little tips and tricks that I have picked up and been shown along the way when it comes to travelling by yourself. I’ll be showing you the best way to book hostels, the best places to visit as a solo traveller, and how to get around. If you guys have any questions, or if you guys are going travelling by yourself and have any questions about it, feel free to leave a comment down below or DM me on Instagram.
First up in this series
Here are the Do’s and Don’ts:
- Booking a Hostel
I used Hostelworld, they have a free app for your phone, and it is super easy to choose a hostel depending on the location and budget you have. They have all the info on there about the hostel, including whether they have WIFI, what their booking regulations are etc. So I will either book through the app, and choose which dorm size I would like and for how long, or I will call them up and tell them.
Another tip is if you have booked a hostel say 1 month in advance, reconfirm your booking 48 hours before just so you know that nothing has affected your booking in that space of time and that you are still on their system. You can either email or phone them
Also for popular destinations such as The Full Moon Party in Thailand or New Years in Sydney, try and book as far in advance as you can so that you don’t miss out.
Other places you can use are:
2. Female and Mixed Dorms
Majority of Hostels now offer the choice between a female dorm or a mixed dorm. It is up to you where you would like to stay, and where you feel safest, but from my experience, especially if you’re travelling by yourself, mixed dorms tend to be more dynamic. They are more fun, chatty and you are more likely to make friends and have more of a sociable experience. Female dorms can be good if you are travelling with a few girlfriends and want to all be together but it’s not any safer or cheaper if that is the main concern.
Some of the biggest dorms range from 8 bed dorms in some hostels to 32 bed dorms (my first hostel in Fiji was a 32 bed dorm), more than likely these will all be bunk beds, but if you’re lucky some hostels have a double bed as the bottom bunk (my hostel in Surfers Paradise in Australia).
3. Top or Bottom Bunk
This is all down to preference, some people prefer the top bunk because it means that all of their stuff is out of the way and on their bed so no one can take anything or sit on their bed, and I agree with that, but what I have found is, if you’re doing a short trip and don’t have a huge bag, which the majority of people will have, then the top bunk could be a good option, but as I mentioned above, sometimes the bottom bunk can be a double bed, so I personally always try and get a bottom bunk, even if it’s a normal bunk, this just means that all your stuff is next to you (easier if you’ve got a big bag), you also don’t make noise getting in or out of bed as the beds are squeaky wherever you go, and in some places the top bunk doesn’t have railings (YMCA in Christchurch, NZ), so it’s up to you.
4. How to break the ice with new roommates
This goes for whether you are the new person coming in or if you have already been in that dorm for a few days, always smile or say Hi. It is a lot harder to break the awkwardness later than if you do it straight away. Even if that is just a smile, or asking a few questions like their name and where they’re from. A lot of the time everyone is in the same boat, whether that’s being in a hostel for the first time, and feeling a bit anxious, everyone’s felt that at some point or another, so just treat other people how you would wish to be treated if you were new.
5. Invite people to do an activity
These can be the smallest gestures that make such a difference, even if that just going to the kitchen or common room, grabbing some food or a coffee, it really helps with making friends, and you never know, you might find something in common or be from the same area back home.
Every hostel also provides free activities like ladies night, drinks in the evening, bar crawl, movie night etc… get involved, you’re guaranteed to meet people and make friends.
6. Keeping your valuables safe
A lot of Hostels have lockers, so make sure to take your own padlock as they don’t provide them, this also means that you can padlock your bag in your room if somewhere doesn’t happen to have lockers. That is what I did, just because a lot of the time the lockers were at the reception and I wanted to have my stuff in my room. Just be cautious, if you know the people in your room and have made friends or have travelled with them for a bit and trust them then it’s up to you, just use your common sense and judgment and be safe.
7. Alarm clocks
You can’t get away from this, as some people have to get up for an early flight or have an activity to get up for. If you do have one, make sure you can wake up to it, and don’t snooze it 15 minute times, as this really doesn’t help with making friends and is extremely annoying, and when you do get up, turn it off FULLY so that it doesn’t accidentally go off again whilst you’re in the shower or bathroom, so other people don’t wake up to it.
8. Noise in the morning/night/daytime
Be polite, if people are still sleeping because they’ve just got in from a flight and are jetlagged or if people are ill or hungover, just go into the common room or kitchen. If it is during the day then just talk a little quietly or go into the common room. If you’re on FaceTime to friends or family, a lot of the times the wifi doesn’t even reach the dorm room, so if you’re going to be talking or chatting just go somewhere else. Be respectful and mindful of other people.
9. Lights on in the early morning or really late at night
If you can put on your reading light (some hostels have these next to each person’s bed) or if you have your phone or torch, use that instead so as not to disturb anyone! Just do not put the main one on, try and pack and do everything the night before, so it saves you time and the hassle of doing it all with a torch!
10. Sex in the dorm room
Unfortunately, you can’t get away from this, it happens, its normal. This is also a good reason to have a bottom bunk! Earplugs and earphones will become your best friends! Coughing or moving around in your bed helps, just to let them know that you’re there so that they know you are awake if they didn’t realise.
There you have it, a little insight into the life of hostels. The most important think is to have fun and take advantage of every opportunity!!