5 top tips for your first solo stay in a hostel

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Hostels are a great way to help keep your trip costs down and gives you an opportunity to make friends more easily if you’re travelling alone.  They have cheaper prices due to sharing a room in a dorm style set up and with communal areas, you can be among others and get involved in activities.  If you’re still mulling a stay in a hostel over, here’s my 5 top tips for your first solo stay in a hostel.

1. Use the hostel experience to make new friends

So, it’s your first solo trip (or maybe you’re still considering that part) and you’ve decided to stay in a hostel for the first time.  A hostel is a great place to try to make friends without feeling too awkward.  Why? You’ll find that a lot of people are in the same position since many people that travel solo use hostels to help keep the prices down on their trip.  In some cases for the purpose of making friends while abroad.  If you can, try to take part in one or two activities.  Many hostels will schedule activities on a daily basis like pub crawls, walking tours of movie nights. 

Yeah Barcelona - dinner and open bar_RiA Vistas
Dinner and open bar at Yeah Barcelona

It’s not only activities that will help but the accommodation as well.  It’s likely that you’ll be sharing a dorm room with multiple beds so it will give you the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. 

The kitchen at City Backpackers Hostel - Stockholm
The kitchen at City Backpackers Hostel

2. Take a padlock for your locker

Getting prepared for your first stay is essential and one of the things to do is to take a padlock with you.  The majority of hostels will provide each bed with a locker to use.   Some will be electronic requiring you to use a keypad and code, while others will require a padlock.  It’s good to arrive prepared in case you need a physical lock.   Depending on the size, the lockers will be useful and some big enough for a hand luggage or medium sized suitcase or large rucksack. 

I tend to carry a spare padlock with me on all my travels anyway just in case.  However, if you forget to carry one with you, some hostels sell or will rent them.  That or you can buy one.

Destinations - solo travel
Blue divider - thin
From the blog title

3.  Choose the right dorm set up for you

When booking, there’s usually many dorm rooms to choose from.   If it’s your first time, you may prefer a single sex dorm instead of a mixed one.  You may prefer a smaller number of bunks or beds or to be among more people. 

City Backpackers Hostel 6-bed female dorm room
The 6-bed female dorm I stayed in at City Backpackers Hostel

Hostel dorms can be as small as a 2-bed (maybe singles beds or a bunk bed) or have as many as 20 beds or more! 

As it’ll be your first time, make sure you take note of the different layouts and number of beds or bunks.  You need to pick the one that suits your needs. 

Yeah Barcelona - 4-bed female dorm
Yeah Barcelona - 4-bed female dorm
Plus Florence - 6-bed female dorm
Plus Florence - 6-bed female dorm

For my first stay in a hostel, I picked a 4-bed female dorm with a shared bathroom outside of the room.  For my second, I chose another 4-bed female dorm with an ensuite bathroom and then a mixed dorm with 6 beds on another trip.  I’ve also stayed in a private double room to myself in a few hostels.   That’s an option if you want a little more privacy at night but in a place where everything else is communal.  

4.  Check the in-dorm facilities and amenities

In the majority of hostels, a shared dorm room would usually have a shared bathroom on the same floor.  It’s also likely to be used by other dorm rooms on the same floor.  

If you’ve not stayed in a hostel or shared with strangers before then you should look for rooms that have an en-suite bathroom.  Several hostels offer this type of set up in a few of their dorm rooms.

Yeah Barcelona - bunk bed compartment
Bunk bed storage - Yeah Barcelona dorm room
Yeah Barcelona - locker drawer
Under bed locker drawer at Yeah Barcelona
Female dorm bathroom
Female dorm en-suite bathroom at city Backpackers
Plus Florence female dorm
A female dorm at Plus Florence with tall lockers

I’ve stayed in hostels with a shared bathroom that’s located on the same floor.  I’ve also picked a female and a mixed dorm room and both had ensuite facilities.  Personally, I’d opt for an en-suite bathroom dorm if there’s availability but it’s not a dealbreaker.  If sharing a bathroom on the same floor suits my budget at the time or the hostel looks good with amenities and facilities (and has good reviews) I’d go for that option as well.

5.   Take a towel with you

It’s a good idea to take a towel with you, depending on your luggage and space. There’s still several hostels that don’t provide you with a towel as standard.  In some, you can rent towels for a small amount, but in others you must have your own if they’re not part of your stay. 

I always carry a smaller, lighter towel.  A good option is a microfibre towel as they tend to be thinner and dry quite quickly – something like this Giwill Microfibre Beach Towel. It can double up as a towel for both showers and the beach. 

Microfibre towels
Microfibre towels – great as a lightweight travel towel

Are you ready and up for staying in a hostel?   

Let me know if you’re planning a hostel solo stay or if you need any advice.  A good place to start looking for a hostel is Hostelworld.

In the meantime to help you get prepped even further for your first solo hostel stay, read my post on how to make friends on a solo trip.

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