Staying in a hostel for the first time may be nerve-wracking, but you’ll be absolutely fine if you follow these 9 ground rules.
 
1. Say Hello!

say hello Photo by DDP on Unsplash

Many travellers staying in hostels travel solo, and not gonna lie, it gets lonely! It’s likely that you’re not the only one with first night jitters. A simple hello may set the stage for lifelong friendships.
 
2. Be Respectful
You’re sharing a living space with people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Be mindful of the cultural norms of others and don’t be afraid to ask or clarify if you need to. Most travellers are happy to walk you through their culture!
 
3. Use the Lounge

you-x-ventures-1442657-unsplash Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

Lucky you! Your hostel has a lounge! It’s there for a reason, and having your meals there instead of eating under your covers (eww) may help you get to know new people outside of your bunkmates!
 
4. Be Considerate
This shouldn’t have to be said, but unfortunately, many travellers still manage to make a huge nuisance out of themselves. If you’re back in the wee hours of the morning, try your very best not to keep flicking the lights on and off. If you’re leaving at the crack of dawn, try to get your bags packed the night before to minimise rustling. If it’s 3 a.m. in the morning, for the love of the travel gods, please stop chatting!
 
5. Bring a Padlock
This is a life or death requirement. You’re going to have to leave your documents and/or cash in your hostel. Many hostels offer lockers without padlocks, or are happy to loan one to you—at a fee. To save money and ensure that your valuables stay yours, remember to lock up and scramble the combination on your lock, and god forbid you pick “1, 2, 3” as your passcode.
 
6. Earplugs are Essential
Sometimes, you do your very best to be the perfect hostel guest, but you still end up having a shitty experience. Truth is, what the rest of your bunkmates or hostelmates do is beyond your control. Among the most common complaints are noises in the dark. Yes, noises of all kinds. Shushing only goes so far to get inconsiderate travellers to shut up, so do yourself a favour and bring some earplugs. Just don’t sleep through your 5 a.m. alarm!
 
7. Ask about Free Activities

party Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Most hostels provide free city tours with willing local guides. It’s up to you to tip the guide depending on how much you loved or hated the trip. Tip: check with your new friends if it’s your first time in a new city. Some hostels even host free dinners or give out free drinks on certain days, so keep your eyes peeled or check with the friendly staff at the counter!
 
8. Flip Flops
Communal showers are hotbeds for all sorts of microorganisms. Think bacteria and fungi. Remember that bunkmate with smelly feet? His foot fungus will live in the showers forever. Bring a pair of flip flops and make sure to wear it whenever you visit the toilet/showers.
 
9. It’s Great to be the Bottom

hostel bunk beds Photo by Nicate Lee on Unsplash

If you happen to arrive before the rest of your bunkmates and hostel reception gives you a choice, put dibs on the lowest bunk. Nothing feels worse than having to clamber to the top of 3-tiered bunk beds with the lights off trying to make as little noise as possible. You’ll more likely stumble and give your precious knees a deep dark bruise on the super hard planks and wake the entire dorm up. Bless you too if you’ve gotten all things packed and forget your portable charger on the bed. If you’re down under, you can roll in and out of bed at will. Just be careful of low roofs. No matter how excited you are, sit up slowly.
 
The idea of staying in a hostel for the first time may be unsettling, but give yourself time and space. It’s okay to make rookie mistakes; just a simple apology will make things right! We hope our tips go a long way in making you feel more comfortable with staying in hostels. If you’re a pro, drop us a comment down below with your take on how to make hostel stays enjoyable!

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Header image by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash 

Backpacking is a fantastic way to work in some personal development while enjoying yourself, but it’s definitely not all sunshine and roses. From the tedious trip planning procedures to having to deal with logistics on the move, it can get pretty stressful. Here are 10 travel essentials for backpackers that will minimise woes and streamline your travels.
 
1. Packing Cubes

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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These are literal lifesavers for the simple backpacker. Backpacks are soft and odd-shaped, and stuffing your clothes, toiletries, soiled laundry, universal adaptor, etc., can make you feel like pulling your hair out in frustration. Packing cubes are like Hermione’s magic pouch in The Deathly Hallows. Their regular shapes make stuffing your rolled garments easier, and fitting them into your backpack becomes a simple game of Tetris. You’ll be surprised how efficiently packing cubes organise the space in your backpack.
 
2. Hanging Toiletries Bag

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The seasoned backpacker swears by this. Hostels come in many shapes and sizes, and their bathrooms all have their quirks. Some don’t have ledges or soap holders, and you’re forced to place your 10 bottles of face and body products on the ground. But a toiletries bag with a hook saves you all that trouble and ickiness. Just hook it over the door or on the clothes hook and complete your 10-step cleansing routine.
 
3. Waterproof Flip Flops

flip flops

Credit: erincondren.com

Protect your feet from fungus! Hostel floors and showers aren’t the cleanest, and with the high human traffic and turnover each day, loads of harmful microorganisms lie ready to pounce on the next unsuspecting foot. A pair of rubber flip flops are an inexpensive way to protect your feet, and consequently, your wallet!
 
4. Microfibre Towel

microfiber towel

Credit: Amazon

Ditch your thick, fluffy, cosy towels for a compact and quick-drying one while on the road. It’s life-changing. You’ll get to save space in your backpack and not have to worry about stinking up the hostel room with a towel still damp from your previous night’s bath.
 
5. Hand Sanitizer

hand sanitiser

Credit: ePharmacy.com.au

This goes hand-in-hand with hygiene. Unfortunately, taps and public toilets may not be widely available in some regions, so hand-washing is sometimes left behind as a stay-home luxury. It doesn’t have to be that way. Save yourself from food poisoning by rubbing some hand sanitiser before you eat and after you go to the loo. Please. The number of people who don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet is astonishing.
 
6. Day Pack

day pack

Credit: Patagonia

You absolutely can’t visit attractions with your humongous backpack. Well, you can, but it’s going to be a hassle, especially if you have to squeeze into tight spaces, or if some attractions forbid you from carrying large bags. Grab a day pack, which can range from a small backpack to a simple tote into which you can dump your identification papers, water bottle, snacks, and wallet, and saunter around free as a bird. It also helps you blend into the background and not be a ripe target for pickpockets and robbers.
 
7. Water Bottle

 water bottle

Credit: wirecutter

Do this for the environment. Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to an individual’s carbon footprint these days, and tourism is unfortunately not a very eco-friendly activity. Bring your water bottle along and refill it whenever you can! If you’re in a country with no potable tap water, boiling a kettle of water in the morning and filling your bottle after it cools down saves you one plastic bottle a day and several dollars a week. Every little bit counts.
 
8. Universal Adaptor

universal adaptor

Credit: Amazon

We’re all smartphone dependent, so you probably already know this. Unless you’re travelling within your home country, it’s essential to bring a universal adaptor along as not every accommodation is fitted with international sockets.Sa
 
9. Padlock

padlocks

Credit: Lazenne

Invest in a good padlock before your trip. You can use it to lock up your backpack while you’re out exploring. Furthermore, most hostels which provide lockers loan out padlocks for a fee. Buying a good quality padlock ensures that you can use it for years to come and helps you travel with peace of mind.
 
Did we miss any travel essentials you can’t do without? Let us know in the comments section down below!
The idea of visiting a foreign country alone is daunting, especially for women. But don’t let it stop you from experiencing the wonders of the world’s cultures. Here are 10 tips for solo female travellers to ensure that you stay safe while having fun abroad!

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Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

1. Plan Ahead

Even if you’re a habitual “pantser” (one who flies by the seat of their pants), travel planning is a good way to take your mind off routine worries so you can travel smarter. Make sure you have your destinations, transfers, and accommodation planned out beforehand to avoid unnecessary worries. Travellers preferring a more spontaneous travel style can do without a detailed itinerary after that.

2. Inform Someone of Your Plans

I’ve known travellers who’ve sneaked off without their parents’ knowledge, but for safety reasons, you should have a point of contact back at home. Give them your travel dates and the corresponding destination and check in with them every so often. A short WhatsApp message saying “I’ve checked in at Happy Hostel” is good enough.

3. Arrive in the Day

Flights that depart and arrive at obscene hours may be cheap, but not the best choice if you’re not familiar with your location and/or destination. Save yourself the worry of having to trek five kilometres to a hostel in the dark in a foreign land and finding it unsuitable. Safety always comes first.

4. Separate Your Cash

The old adage goes, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, and it never rings more true than when you’re travelling alone. Things happen, and you’ll want to have a backup plan. Most of these involve some cash. Split your stack into three and place one in your backpack, one in your pocket, and the last in your day pack. As you go along in your travels, you’ll figure out a proportion that works for you.

5. Dress Conservatively

We’d all prefer to believe in a world of true equality, where women are not judged or harassed on the basis of their clothing choices. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Err on the side of caution and dress in a way that doesn’t attract attention. Be street smart. If you see local women in tank tops and shorts, you’re probably safe dressing that way. If most cover up, then do the same.

6. Common Sense is Key

Whatever you won’t do back home, don’t do it abroad. This applies to everyone, not only to women travelling alone. Don’t take dark back alleys. Don’t walk through parks at night. Don’t hop into a strangers car. Don’t accept food and drinks from a stranger you just met at a bar. Don’t worry about seeming rude. Your safety is your top priority. Repeat that last sentence again.

7. Deploy Lies

Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if you have to lie to get out of a sticky situation, do it. Buy a cheap wedding ring and point it out when receiving unwanted attention. Being “married” is a surefire way to divert their attention elsewhere. Tell your taxi driver that your boyfriend is waiting for you at your destination or that you’re travelling with family.

8. You Know What You’re Doing

Even if you don’t. Look confident and focused all the time, even when you’re just wandering around or feeling lost. Predators first look for vulnerability in demeanor.

9. Be Sensitive

You’re the visitor to someone else’s home. Do your research beforehand on their cultural norms and pay attention to nuances when you get there. Don’t engage in activities that are frowned upon by your host country. Respect them as you hope they would respect you.

10. Safety Over Money

We budget travellers are extremely careful about where our money goes. But the truth is, if something untoward happens, we stand to lose more than a few hundred dollars of cash. Always read reviews of hostels before booking. Don’t hesitate to find alternative accommodation options if you don’t feel comfortable at your current one. Take public transportation or a taxi if it’s dark out. Choose accommodation in safe neighbourhoods even if it costs more. Your safety is worth more than dollars.
 
We hope this post has been helpful for all you women looking to travel solo! The media often portrays the world as a huge hellhole, but this is far from the truth. Trust your gut and stay alert, and we’re sure you’ll have the trip of your lifetime!
 
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Header Photo by Wanaporn Yangsiri on Unsplash