I've written tons of articles about hostels here at About Student Travel, so how about another post about the things that don't fit anywhere else? Everyone knows that hostels are fun, sociable environments, are safer than you'd expect, the best way to make friends, expose you to snorers, and have the occasional dodgy bathroom. What isn't usually mentioned in these posts? Read on to find out!
You're Going to See Some Really Disgusting Things
The majority of well-rated hostels are actually very clean, but even the best hostel in the world can't do much about the type of guests who choose to stay there. When I stayed in a hostel in Riga, I was horrified to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of one of my dorm mates throwing up in the middle of the room. Later on, on the same trip, I awoke once again at midnight to the person sleeping above me throwing up in the bed above mine.
It's not just vomit. All kinds of bodily fluids have been expelled in dorm rooms I've been staying in -- yes, even that -- and it's never pleasant. For the most part, you'll enjoy staying in hostels, but prepare yourself to experience some really gross things.
Your Going to Get Very Fed Up With Talking to People
Most people fall in love with hostel life within moments of staying at their first one, excited by how easy they make it to make friends and have conversations. A few weeks later? You'll be craving for a conversation that starts with, "where are you from?"
Dorm rooms are extremely sociable, but they typically revolve around the the same five questions. If you're craving talking about something that doesn't involve travel, you'll often struggle.
There'll Always Be a Creepy Guy There
An unwritten rule of dorm room life is that there'll always be one creepy guy in the room, and he'll be sat in a dark corner watching you in silence. A particular favourite was the old man I shared a dorm room with in Hualien, in Taiwan. Upon entering the room, he greeted me with, "hello! Don't worry: I'm not a sex pest."
I immediately wanted to change rooms.
Free Wi-Fi Isn't Always That
Most hostels advertise free Wi-Fi (outside of Australia, that is), but there are a few limitations. Like the free Wi-Fi might only be in reception where there isn't anywhere to sit. Or it'll only work if a maximum of two people are on the network, otherwise it'll immediately go down. Or it hasn't worked for months and they have no intention of fixing it.
Free Breakfast Becomes One of Your Highlights
Whoever would have thought that your highlight of a hostel stay would be the free breakfast? But as time goes on and you realise that you're spending more money than you expected and need to start cutting back. The hostel's free breakfast will save you on two meals a day. Make sure to eat as much food as possible to take advantage of the options, then sneak a couple of rolls into your bag and that's your lunch covered!