Hostel Etiquette: How To Survive A Twenty-Person Room

August 25, 2015

Traveling on a budget? Looking to see the world without spending all of your cash? Try hostels! You'll save a ton and have memories of world travel you'll never's how!

While people often turn to hostels for a cheaper alternative to overpriced and under-accommodating hotels, the hostel community can offer so much more than an efficient place to rest after a long day of travels. Typically marked with an oversized flag and a gathering of folks discussing adventures near the entrance, hostels are often located in bustling areas near the local attractions. Given that they cater to lone travelers looking for not only a bunk to rent, but a friendly connection to the city they’re visiting, They’re more than welcoming to all types of guests. However, to make sure you’re making the most of your stay, here are the guidelines to ensure your time in a ten bed-bunk room is as sweet as the local pie you’ll be digging into later.


Depending where you stay, you may need to book your bunk months ahead of time. There are typically two routes you can chose when doing so: public or private rooms. If you’re looking for the most efficient alternative, a 20 person area with bunks lined up edge to edge is your best bet. You’ll find dorm style bathrooms throughout the building. After all, a place to sleep is a place to sleep.

On the other hand, many hostels offer private rooms that often include a bathroom for your personal use. Although more expensive, I’ve found private rooms are best for when I’m traveling with family or a small group and we need our own space. As with any journey, your goal is to be spending as little time in a quarantined room and out in the environment you traveled so far to see, chose your space accordingly.

Rent the necessities

Although I’ve managed to fold and roll and squeeze a bed sheet into my backpack to save a spare dollar, this is not always feasible. Hostels will either loan you bed sheets and bath towels for a returnable deposit or charge you a (well worth it) small fee.

Cleanliness isn’t just for your mom’s house

Based on my own experience, hostels have been some of the cleanest places I’ve stayed. There is a strong unspoken code that travelers all seem to follow: keep your shit in your own space and clean up when you’re done. Those passing through are well trained on being respectful of the environment they inhabit, even if it’s only for a night or two.

Be conscience of those around you, wipe up the bathroom when you’re done, leave your shoes near your bunk and be considerate of other’s things..even if this means de-tangling 14 iPhone chargers and waiting your turn for an outlet.

Sorry, but showering is still required on vacay

Flip-flops. Bring ’em. And not to strike fear in those who love a 30 minute steamy shower session, but be aware of time-controlled shower nobs where the water automatically shuts off every ten seconds to be environmentally friendly. Be careful how much you lather up.

Lock it up

Although I’ve never felt in danger of theft in any hostel situation, there’s a difference between being trustworthy and being just straight up smart about where you keep your things.

Public (and private) rooms have lockers available for rent where you can keep you passport, important documents and currency when you’re not around. We also used our lockers to keep expensive cameras and any electronics we weren’t trucking along with us.

(Don’t) party til the lights come on

Many hostels have a designated time for lights to be turned out. Although you shouldn’t restrict yourself to returning at that time (nightlife is part of your experience!) be quiet when entering a room and make sure you set out your pajamas and night routine ahead of time so you’re not searching around for your toothbrush at 2am.

Take advantage of the community calendar

Most hostels offer an activities board as well as events run by the hosts. Tours, bar crawls and group trips are a big part of the hostel’s climate, immerse yourself as much as you can. Some of my greatest outings have been when I’ve unintentionally joined a crowd in the common area and headed out to attractions that couldn’t be found on a map or in a guidebook. Considering you’re all most likely there for similar reasons, it’s easy to find like-minded companions.

Free time in the common area or bar

Aim to spend any unused minutes in the common area. Even though this might be the only place you can get quality wifi, put down the Mac and socialize after choosing that perfect Instagram filter. An easy ice breaker is asking others where they’re from and what brought them here. This can be as simple or complex of a question as they make it.

Although hostels initially have the reputation of being the po’ folk’s option, they’ve grown into so much more than a place to sleep. Meeting new people, indulging in others’ experiences and learning the ways of the land to immerse yourself entirely are just some of the perks you get by opting out of a secluded five star hotel. You can’t buy human interaction, cultural involvement and unlikely friendships.

Initially, I was concerned about sharing a space with strangers. Now, after having spent time in more than ten hostels across Europe, I’ve come to learn that strangers are*cliche alert* just friends I haven’t met yet. Not only do they enrich my experience, but I believe that I just might be able to return the favor.

Have you ever stayed in a hostel? If not, does this persuade you to try one?


 Stay up to date on Juliette’s adventures by following her on Instagram –julietteelise & twitter @JulietteElise_ !


8 comments so far.

8 responses to “Hostel Etiquette: How To Survive A Twenty-Person Room”

  1. I haven’t stayed in a hostel yet, but these insights make me consider it!

    • Juliette Kopp says:

      Oh great! Definitely take the time to read reviews for different hostels and I’m sure you’ll find one that suits your needs!

  2. Every time we travel my husband and I consider it but we’ve never actually pulled the trigger and booked at a hostel. It is nice to hear that people are generally good about sharing space and cleaning up after themselves. The shared bathroom is really what makes me a little nervous.

    • Juliette Kopp says:

      The bathroom has always been the least of my concerns! I’ve been in hostels in Madrid, Barcelona and across Iceland and most hostel goers are very considerate of shared spaces. While some of the hostels have a large open room with various shower heads (like a locker room), there’s usually a private room with a locked door if you ask! I typically shower at night and have never had to wait. Let me know how it goes if you try! Maybe ease into it with one night?

  3. Hostels are not for me but it’s fun to learn more about them!

  4. Kili says:

    At least judging from the reviews on, tripadvisor and other sites, a lot, a lot, a lot of hostels aren’t like that.
    I guess travellers should definitly read what others have had to say about a specific place to judge for themselves…

  5. R says:

    My rules of ettiquette….
    1. Thou shalt not take the bottom bunk unless you specifically booked it!
    2. Invest in a travel towel that will serve as a blanket, towel and fold up into a tiny roll
    Similarly, if you have long hair, carry one of those towel-turbans for drying your hair.
    3. If you don’t like being rushed during your shower, shower at 3am.
    4. My bike light is USB-rechargeable and clips to the bike. The last time I travelled, I took it with me and kept it with me. Works wonders when stumbling into the room when everyone else is asleep and the lights are off
    5. If you meet someone lovely (or are travelling with someone dear) and want some action, PLEASE get a private room for that night. Most hostels do have them and your fellow travellers will thank you.
    6. Ear plugs are your friends. Keep a bunch of them around, and always offer a pair to someone who you think may need one.
    7. Similarly, if you know you snore like a coming train, save up and get a private room in the hostel.


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