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Hostel Etiquette

The communal nature might come as a bit of a shock for first timers, especially if youíre used to hotels. Because dorms, bathrooms, cooking and cleaning facilities are all shared, good hostel etiquette will always come in handy and save you from the wrath of your fellow backpackers.

In the Dorms

Sleeping in close quarters with anywhere from 4 to forty people has the potential to bring with it a sleepless night. If youíre unlucky, you might be sharing with a snorer or two, some squeaky beds with people tossing about on them, shagging couples, shagging drunken strangers, people with stinky shoes and mouldy clothes, loud talkers, people who enjoy turning the light on at 3am, bag rustlers, thieves and any variety or combination of these annoying occurrences.

Thereís not much that can be done about snoring and squeaky beds, but unless you want to seriously annoy everyone in your dorm room, take any shagging to a double room (or a back alley), keep your stinky stuff outside if you can (or wash it!), talk quietly at night, bring a flashlight along to help you hunt for missing items at 3am, do not pack your crap in noisy plastic bags, and donít steal other peopleís shit!

In the Kitchen

Dishes are the bane of the existence of all hostel employees. Having worked in a few I know that thereís nothing more infuriating than rocking up at night to give the kitchen a clean and having to wade through piles of crusty dishes. Iíve stayed in hostels that have either taken dishes away completely or reduced the numbers drastically so that thereíd be fewer to wash up after lazy backpackers. It pretty much sucks staying in a hostel with 2 forks and a coffee mug to share between 50 people so cleaning up after yourself will not only benefit the guests staying with you but also the staff and will ensure that fewer hostels out there in the world will be forced to resort to full on dishes confiscation.

Oh and one more thingÖ donít steal peopleís beer and wine and if you are going to thieve milk (a problem that is seemingly impossible to prevent), make sure you leave them enough for the morning.

In the Common Room

If thereís a TV in the common area you are forbidden to watch anything to do with cars or anything with Nicolas Cage in it (I canít stand him). Putting movies on is ok but if thereís a good vibe going in the place itíll usually kill the conversation so save it for when the hostel is full of boring people or when everyone is hungover and wants to chill out.

I am usually the one to blame for this but if youíre boozed up and getting loud, close some doors and keep the action in the common area or kitchen. There are people out there that like to get up early and see the sights and probably wonít appreciate a loud, drunken conversation in the hallway about the hot guy from Brazil you pashed the other night.


Most hostels seem to ask for creditcard details to prevent people from making a reservation and failing to show up. Trust me, if youíve left your card details and fail to turn up or cancel your booking in advance, you will be charged. But there are plenty of nice, trusting hostels out there that donít require details and we want to keep it that way! So, for the love of god, if you make a reservation without having to give card details and change your plans Ė let them know about it! Not only will it prevent the hostels from losing money and being forced into taking card details in the future (which is a bitch for people who donít have creditcards) but it will also free up your bed and make room for another backpacker to squeeze in if the hostel is full.

Spread the Word

If you come across a fantastic hostel, spread the word to other travellers. If you come across a complete dive, warn people! Word of mouth is the best way to find the best hostels and avoid the worst so if the topic of conversation turns to backpackerís hostels Ė spread the word!

By: Kirsty
July 2006 - Australia - Canada - Europe - New Zealand

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