11 signs it’s your first time in a hostel
Remember the first time you set foot in a hostel? Wide-eyed and excited, but a little unsure. How does it even work? Pretty quickly you get the hang of hostel life—all the etiquette around how to share spaces and cook food and shower and meet people. Fortunately it becomes second nature faster than you think, but there are definitely some clear signs when you’re a first-timer. How many are you guilty of?
You choose the top bunk
The top bunk is a novelty when it’s been 20 years since you last slept in one. Everyone wants dibs on the top bunk! If you’re aged seven or under. Any older than that and you very quickly come to realize that the bottom bunk is where it’s at. No climbing up a squeaky rickety ladder at night (or worse, down one in the dark when you need to go for a pee). The king of the castle lives in the basement suite.
You buy a glass bottle of olive oil
First things first, you gotta stock up on some food for your own hostel cookup. Not all hostels stock basic cooking staples like salt, pepper and cooking oil, so you buy your own mid-sized $7.99 glass bottle of extra virgin olive oil from the grocery store. Genius! It’ll last your whole three-month trip! You can use it for cooking, for salad dressing, even moisturizer in a pinch! Yeah, no. If someone doesn’t steal it first, once you put it in the overhead bin on the bus, it’ll get smashed the first time you hit a pothole. A small plastic tub of the cheapest margarine you can find will serve you better.
You leave your bed unmade before going out
Who’s got time to put a pillowcase on a pillow and a duvet inside a cover when there’s a pub crawl about to head out from the lobby!? Uh, you do, right after you experience the misery of completely failing at both in the dark at 3 a.m. while trying to be quiet. I’m pretty sure pillowcases shrink twelve sizes as soon as the lights go off. Get that sleep spot sorted before nightfall.
You don’t bring earplugs
Pretty much any PJ-clad hosteller walking towards a hostel front desk between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. will automatically be handed a pair of free earplugs along with a sympathetic and knowing nod. It comes with the territory, but once you’ve got a pair of foam snorebusters in your possession, you’ll treat them like gold. Those and a passport are pretty much all you need in life.
You have a suitcase
Sure, a structured container on wheels sounds great for getting your stuff around, but once you try stuffing your hard-sided Samsonite into a hostel locker, it’s pretty easy to see the merits of a soft-sided 60L backpack. Plus, when you’re running to catch a train along a narrow cobblestone street in Italy, one wayward 500-year-old cobble is enough to shatter a wheel and send your suitcase sideways into a window. Me scusi!
You think a co-ed dorm is a great place to meet girls/guys
Dorm rooms tend to be reserved for two main activities: sleeping and sleepfarting. If that’s your idea of laying the groundwork for love, by all means, but you’d be wiser to keep your soulmate search to the common areas.
You recoil at the thought of a free food shelf
Well if oooonly we allllll had the privilege of eating fresh food we just bought from the grocery store like some kind of travelling chef. What do you mean the hostel kitchen doesn’t have a brulée torch? But try again when you’re four months in and just got back from an impulse bungee jump you justified because you hadn’t yet tried it on this continent, and you just so happened to have to buy a replacement pair of flip flops on the same day. That half-empty bag of brown rice and fuzzy bottle of soy sauce don’t look so hideous now, do they.
You go barefoot into the shower
If you find yourself wondering why everyone else seems to be carrying a pair of cheap plastic flip flops to and from the bathroom, you’ll very quickly discover the answer when you wake up with flaky, itchy spots between your toes one morning. To be fair, hostels have some impeccable cleaning policies and your feet will probably be just fine no matter what they wear into the shower. But it’s best to stick to the safe side.
You go a little too hard at karaoke
Hostel bars are awesome because they’re pretty much always packed with backpackers from around the world, and the commute usually maxes out at a set of stairs, if that. They’re convenient as heck, everyone is in a good mood and ready to meet people and they’ve usually got some of the best drink deals in town. So why not get up on stage and sing four versions of Country Roads at the top of your lungs? Because you’ve got to see ALL of these people again, sober, in the morning. Take ‘er easy there, John Denver.
You tell the front desk the women’s bathroom seems to be out of shampoo
Oh sweet summer child, not here. No no. Not here.
You wonder how you can keep living this life forever
Yeah, this happens the first time you stay in a hostel and every time after it when the stars seem to align and you meet awesome person after awesome person and you have the time of your life and you wonder what kind of work you can do to bring in enough money to keep going, all over, forever, until the end of time. You aren’t wrong, friend.