How To Make A Hostel A Home

Find a good cheap hostel

If you are short on cash and know that you are going to be staying somewhere for a while. Find a hostel that has a great price, but also one that has that homey look and feel to it. There are plenty that charge extra just for having a brand name, but you can find your diamond in the rough if you look for it. If you want to make the effort, pick a hostel and stay there one night, if you don’t like it, try another. You’re never stuck in one place (unless you are us right now), so try a few different places and see which one you vibe with best.

Find work

If you find a place you really like but may need to make some extra money, try finding a part time job to pay for your long term stay. If you’re a native English speaker, finding a job teaching English is the easiest and fasted way to find work. Look on Facebook and search for groups that are dedicated to exactly this. There are many in HCMC alone. I’m sure there is one in the city you are in. Make sure you have the proper visa for working in the country that you’re in.

Another option would be to ask your hostel manager or owner if they need any help around the hostel. Sometimes a staff member is out sick and you could fill in for them for the day. Jobs can vary depending on what the hostel needs that day. Usually, they have you work in exchange for a free night in the hostel. This can work out very well for you if you want to stay somewhere long term.

Staying healthy

If you decide to stay in a hostel long term, it’s very important to stay healthy. I know cheap food can be enticing when you have limited funds, but sometimes you might need to spend a bit extra to have a proper meal. If you find yourself getting the same stomach cramps after eating that same street food every day, they maybe you should change it up.

I’m not just talking about what you eat either. Exercise is essential, especially if you’re finding it hard to fill your day with things to do. Exercise can lift your mood on a bad day and help you find clarity and focus.

I’m also talking about proper hygiene, I know it’s very easy to go a few days without showering when you’re busy having fun, but no one wants to be the smelly guy at the party.

Make sure you are taking care of yourself in every way you can. Depending on what country you are in, going to the hospital in a foreign country can be a nightmare.

Making new friends

When you’re in a hostel long term, you see many people come and go, so it can be hard to make meaningful relationships with people you just met. But you still can by making the first move and reaching out to new people in the hostel, you never know until you try. It can be nerve racking if you’re not used to making the first move, but if you see a group of people, don’t be scared to put yourself out there and join the conversation. When I was traveling around Malaysia last year, I met people that were from my hometown, or the town next to mine. It’s amazing how small the world can be.

Sometimes there are other people in the hostel staying as long as you, if not longer, and those are the people you can really get to know. Also making friends with the staff can go a long way, make the effort to learn their names and get to know them, they are usually very cool and interesting people.

Have a routine

I am a person who likes to have a routine, if I have a plan for myself, then I feel more fulfilled in my day. Make a schedule for yourself, you can even put a time for everything. Here’s my daily routine:

Wake up
Meditate 20 minutes
Walk to the shop and get water and a coffee
Work out/Yoga 1 hour
Have lunch
Work on the blog 1 hour
Play ukulele 1 hour
Read 1 hour
Learn Spanish 1 hour
Rest time
Have dinner
Hang out with hostel people

It’s kind of a rough draft, but you get the idea. Having a list or a schedule of some kind can help you stay sane when you are finding it hard to fill your days with things to do. You can also try and find out some cultural places to see in the place that you are in. There’s always free, or nearly free things to do in any city.

Hostel etiquette

Living in a dorm for the first time can be a crazy experience, it’s like a giant sleepover with adults. Except sometimes those adults act like children. It’s always good to know the proper way to act in a hostel, and there aren’t always written rules to live by. So here are some of the unwritten rules…

Always be courteous to your bunkmates.

Be quiet once the lights are out. If people are sleeping, don’t come into the room making lots of noise, respect that others would like to sleep.

Wear headphones while listening to music or watching a movie.

If you are waking up very early to go on a tour, don’t turn the lights on at 5 in the morning so you can get dressed and ready. Use the light on your phone or a flashlight so you don’t disrupt others sleeping.

Keep your bags tucked under your bed, or on the appropriate shelf. Don’t spread your things out across the room, everyone has limited space, so use yours wisely.

Always take your personal belongings out of the bathroom when you are not using them. Keep the bathroom clean and tidy by reducing clutter.

Sex in a hostel can be tricky. Most hostels say “don’t do it!” but when you’re traveling long term with your significant other, sometimes you want to get frisky! Choose your moments wisely, during the day, the hostel is usually quiet with everyone out doing touristy things. That might be your best window to get freaky. Don’t be the couple keeping everyone up at night, you might think you’re being quiet, but trust me, you aren’t!

So that’s it! If you follow these guidelines, you will have an easier and happier stay in your hostel. Happy traveling!

Have you lived in a hostel long term? Tell me about it in the comments.



Amanda is a freelance writer who is traveling the world by bicycle. She has her own blog about her travels around the world. Global Bike Trip.

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