When I first embarked upon my 1+ year trip around South and Central America at 29, my one biggest worry was the idea of staying in hostels again. Yuck! The last time I’d really lived the hostel life was when I was 22 travelling around Europe, and the idea of doing it all over again was pretty scary. 11 months on and I’ve had some terrible experiences in hostels, but I’ve also had some really great ones. And all-in-all there are so many reasons to chose a hostel over a hotel. They are pretty much the only way to make friends as a solo traveller. And like anything, getting used to life in a hostel takes practice. And practice I have! Over time I’ve developed these 8 hostel hacks that I use to survive hostel life. Hostel haters fear not! Follow these hostel tips and tricks and you’ll find yourself living your best hostel self!

1. invest in a good pair of ear plugs

Whether you’re staying in a hostel for the first time or you’re a hostel veteran a good night’s sleep is important. It’s also important not to let your roomies annoy you too much so you end up hating them and don’t socialise. The perfect hostel hacks solution to all of these woes is investing in a couple of good pairs of earplugs. If they really are good quality they will block out all noise. Pop them in at the first sign of snoring and you’ll sleep like a baby. It’s worth paying a lil more for a good pair.

2. same goes for an eye mask

I think the discovery of my eye mask has changed my life. Like I think I’ll sleep with them forever. From windows with terrible blinds, people flicking on lights at 3am and people shining their phone light in your eyes while trying to find their stuff, you can never guarantee the level of light in any room. Get yourself a comfortable eye mask and even if you don’t want to fall asleep with it on, pop it on like a headband and if the room does become light earlier than you’d like, just slip it over your eyes and sleep on… You can thank me later.

3. buy some Food to go with breakfast

I’m an Aussie and we Aussies take breakfast pretty seriously. But when you’re a broke backpacker you gotta maximise that free breakfast so you don’t spend too much money on food throughout the day. Most hostels will give you some basic bread and butter with jam. Maybe some eggs if you’re lucky. My hostel hack is to ask what brekkie is when you get there and then supplement it with a few cheap items to make it a proper meal and keep you satisfied until the late arvo. Eggs, avocado, tomato and a lime are the perfect items to make your breakfast complete.

4. carry a mini pantry with you

When you’re travelling for a long period of time, cooking your own meals is so important for budgeting. You’ll find however most hostels won’t have the basics you need to cook and you’ll keep buying the same ingredients over and over again. Instead of constantly heading back to the supermarket, or out to restaurants because you can’t be bothered I’d recommend making yourself a mini pantry that you can just carry around in your bag. Olive oil, salt and pepper chicken stock cubes and rice will sort you out for all occasions and keep for ages. And for hostels too stingy to offer breakfast keep a bag of oats on hand and you can easily whip up a tub of overnight oats with some water or milk and a banana and pop it in the fridge. So cheap and so cheerful!

5. tupperware saves the day more than once

One of the biggest hostel hacks I’ve discovered an something I use all the time is my Tupperware. If you’re cooking your own meals, or even want to make your own overnight oats a little Tupperware container that you can pop leftovers in or use as a bowl is a must have as most hostels don’t have really limited kitchen ware.

6. Avoid booking in advance if you can

Now I know sometimes you need to book in advance to ensure a hostel doesn’t book out. However one of my biggest tips for staying in hostels and saving money is to turn up on the day. Most booking sites charge hostels a premium for using their site. This premium they pass on to you as part of your booking. So most often than not you’ll actually get a cheaper rate if you don’t book ahead.

7. Try and check in and check in time for your choice of bed

If you’re really funny about which bed you have, or just hate being on the top bunk, try and check in at one or two when the check-in opens. Most hostels don’t designate beds, so you usually get to choose yours. If you check in at check-in time, you’ll have first choice of the beds available. This is one of my favourite hostel hacks for getting the best bed.

8. Choose an all girl dorm to avoid snorers

Snorers in hostels are a dime a dozen. You can guarantee you’re going to come across one. And being kept awake by a snorer can ruin your night and your day. Usually, the worst offenders are males. So I usually take an all-girl dorm, just to ensure I’m not ripping my hair out while the guy in the bunk above me is making the room vibrate with his ridiculously loud snoring. This hostel hack obviously only works for the fairer sex. But if you’re a girl. Lucky you!

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