The beginners’ guide to hostelling
If you were not one of the lucky ones who experienced hostelling at a young age with your family or friends, then staying at a hostel, sharing a dorm room, and hostel facilities are all new to you. For some people there is no stress involved and they easily fall into hostel life, for others it can take a bit longer to feel comfortable.
Some people don’t have a clue what a hostel is, or they have a total misconception of what backpacker/youth/HI hostels are. Backpacker Buzz is putting together a series of blogs over the next few months that will relate to these ‘new’ hostellers. We hope they are full of helpful tips, interesting insights and inspiration to get you hostelling and seeing the world. Please feel free to share your stories in the comments section below, and share our blogs with your friends, family and fellow travellers.
We start our blog series with… Overcoming the first night jitters!
By Ceri Jones, HI employee and world traveller!
I still clearly remember how terrifying I thought staying in a hostel would be. What if the other people in the room were weirdos? What if they steal my stuff? What if I can’t sleep? What if they snore? What if I snore? Is it going to be dirty? Are the bathrooms going to be private? So many questions! You may think if I was this concerned about hostels, then why did I even bother thinking about them as an option. Well I was travelling in Australia for four months and there was no way I could afford to stay in hotels, I was not sure about camping because of all the snakes and spiders and I would have to lug a tent everywhere, so hostels were the best option!
Luckily I was travelling with a friend who also had never stayed at a hostel, so we were going through the experience together which kind of eased the pain! The first hostel we stayed at was YHA Sydney Central. We opted for a private room for our first couple of nights and we were pleasantly surprised, it even had an en-suite, we did not expect that! We took a look around the hostel and found lots of common areas, a kitchen and a café downstairs. I have to say for the first few days we did not cook dinner at the hostel, or really talk to many people, I guess we were still a bit shy. After a couple of nights in the private room we decided to move to a dorm to save money and guess what? It was totally fine! Our room mates were cool and we were able to put our bags in a locker, so we had no worries about our stuff getting stolen.
After a few days in Sydney we began our trip up the east coast on Greyhound. We booked our hostels the day before we got there, so we knew where we would be staying when we got off the bus. Soon the whole hostel process became the norm to us. We would check-in, sometimes a bed would be assigned to us, other times we would just make our way to the dorm and choose a free bed. You can usually tell the bed is free because the linen is nice and tidy if the beds are pre-made or if they give you linen at check-in then you know to pick a bed that is un-made. We then would mess up the bed linen a little (if made) or make our bed to mark that it is taken and head out to take a look at the rest of the hostel.
It was really easy to meet new friends and exchange travel tips. I found most people are up for chatting, I have made some great friends on my travels and I am still in touch with lots of them thanks to Facebook! I now have a global network of friends, some from New Zealand, USA, Germany, France, Thailand! I know for sure I would not have made all these friends if I had been staying at hotels.
You could say that my first night in a hostel back in 1997 changed my life forever, I mean if I had not got over my fears and stayed in a hostel, and then I would not have had such a great time in Australia. I then would not have gone on to travel to all the other places I have over the years. Ten years after my first night in a hostel, I would not have met my partner in a hostel in New Zealand and I definitely would not be working for Hostelling International today! So my top tip for those people who are a little nervous about hostelling is just do it! It’s great fun and you never know what could happen!