Etiquette for Backpackers – How to Behave in Hostels

in Trip Planning

Backpackers have a reputation for being smelly, loudmouthed layabouts. Outsiders might assume that there are no rules in these frugal accommodation establishments, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, no one wants to be painted with this very wide brush, or risk infuriating their fellow hostel dwellers. By following these simple tips you can make the most of your hostel stay, and ensure you’re not the backpacker people are whispering about in the halls.

Hostels aren’t equipped with the lavish wardrobes of resorts and bed and breakfasts, so most backpackers will end up spilling their stuff onto the floor. Moderation is the key here. It’s acceptable to dump a travel bag and the occasional item of clothing, but ensure you don’t encroach onto the territory of others. They need that carpet space too!

Showers are also in short supply at hostels, so it’s important to respect the queues. Treat them as you would a public bathroom. Get in, do what you need to do as quickly as possible, and get out of there. Save those shower sing-alongs and lengthy grooming routines until you’re back home, and away from easily irritated holiday makers.

Kitchen space is also limited, so resist the urge to play Emeril Lagasse. The pots, utensils, and appliances are intended for everybody’s use, so stick to the basics and make sure there’s enough to go around. Also remember to clean up when you’re done. No one wants to be greeted by your pile of dirty dishes.

Backpackers are not, as a rule, early risers. Interrupt their sleep in at your peril. If you must wake early to move on to your next destination or join a guided tour, do so quickly and quietly. Pack as much as you can the night before so you can make the speediest of getaways, or risk some disapproving stares.

Just because hostel dwellers appreciate the value of a sleep in doesn’t mean they’ll love the snooze button. No one wants to be woken every ten minutes until you can rouse yourself. If you need the extra zees simply set the alarm later.

Backpackers are also reputedly serious drinkers, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is indulging. Party with the money you’re saving on accommodation by all means, but don’t bring the celebration back to your room. No one will want to join in your revelry if they’ve been woken from a dead sleep by bright lights and loud chatter.

Being woken by a snorer can be just as irritating. I’m sorry snorers, but you’ll need to spend extra on a private room or risk being smothered in your sleep. It might sound like discrimination, but your fellow frugal travelers will not be as forgiving as your main squeeze.


Staying in a hostel is a great way to save money and meet other frugal travelers.

Speaking of matters of the heart, couples are often tempted to save a few dollars by choosing a dorm. However lovebirds really should stick to the double rooms. No one wants to witness your heated make-out sessions, sickening exchange of pet names, or lover’s tiffs. Unless you’re vacationing with friends who agree to the arrangement, keep your relationship behind your own private closed door.

Vacationing in a hostel can be a great way to spend a break, without spending a lot of cash, so long as you remember to mind your manners!

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