1. BYO everything
Hostels are selling cheap accommodations, so it stands to reason that those little ‘extras’ that the Marriot offers might not be provided at the hostel. And by extras I mean things like towels and sheets. Although most hostels do at least have these basics, its always better to check ahead or when in doubt bring your own. Even if they are provided, they might be way below your standards. One hostel in Amsterdam actually gave me a hand towel as the ‘provided towel.’ Thankfully the shower was in a private room so it was possible to preserve some Modesty. In addition, you will need to bring your own soap, shampoo, toothbrush etc as you won’t be getting a fresh supply from housekeeping each day.
2. Security can be an issue
When you sharing a room, its not possible to leave your valuable in your room. Everything will need to be locked up or kept with you at all times. For me this means bringing my purse or money belt into the shower and bathroom with me and making sure I sleep holding onto my valuables. (I usually put them in a bag between me and wall under the covers). You want to make sure you never leave your camera in a bag or lying out on a table somewhere, because chances are it won’t be there when you get back.
3. Be prepared to rough it
Chances are something about the hostel is going to rub you the wrong way living condition wise. The shower water may be cold, the bathroom might smell,your roomate might snore, the bed could be lumpy… I could go on. As long as you take some necessary precautions (bring shower shows, something warm to sleep in, ear plugs, etc) and you prepare yourself for being a little put out, you should be fine. Remember its something to bond with your fellow hostel goers about!
4. No ‘me’ time
For me, the hardest part of staying in a hostel is the lack of personal space. I’m fine when it comes to sleeping a room full of people or having to keep my stuff isolated to a small corner – but sometimes I like to take a break and read or chill out on my own. That can be hard in a hostel willed with people when you are staying in a dorm room. Often, the easiest solution is to take your book and head out to a park or cafe where you can order a drink and read in peace for a few hours. Otherwise, if you are on a long trip its not a cop out to get a private room every once in a while.