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When we are traveling, the duration and quality of sleep that we get have a significant impact on our trip. If we are tired, we are not able to enjoy ourselves and vacation properly. There is a lot to see and do in our vacation destinations, and if we feel sleepy the next day, going sightseeing will not be pleasant, and all we will think about is going to bed in the evening.
Two main choices that we have when it comes to accommodation are hotels and hostels. For some of us, sleeping in a hotel room can be challenging. We are simply used to our beds, and can’t seem to relax properly in a new environment. As a result, our quality of shut-eye can suffer. If you are wondering “what is a hostel?”, well, it is also a type of accommodation but with less elegance and privacy, at more affordable prices compared to hotels. If we choose hostels, getting enough sleep is even more challenging as, besides the same problems that we may have in a hotel, we also share our room with strangers. It is much more difficult to relax when you are surrounded by people that you don’t even know and have to sleep in the same room as them. In case you have troubles resting properly at night, we will suggest some things that you can do to sleep well in a hostel.
Do Your Research
You need to take into consideration a few things before you book a hostel, such as reputation. Some hostels have a reputation of being peaceful and quiet while others are known as party hostels. Staying in so-called party hostels is an excellent way to meet new people, and usually, solo travelers prefer them. They often organize social events for their guests, host parties, etc. Although they are a perfect option if you want to meet fellow travelers and have fun, they are not very good for sleep, especially if the parties last until late at night.
On the other hand, peaceful hostels may not be very fun, but you will certainly be able to get enough quality sleep. Don’t forget to consider the reputation before choosing a hostel. Another vital thing is the location, as having easy access to public transport, airports, and attractions is the key to having an amazing trip. You should also check if the neighborhood where a particular hostel is located is safe, as it will help you relax and sleep well. Reading online reviews is also very helpful as it will help you find out whether a hostel is neat, clean, has lockers, free WiFi, hairdryers, breakfast, and more.
Choose Your Room Carefully
Hostels have different room types, and you need to decide which one you prefer. Female travelers, especially if they are staying in a hostel alone, usually prefer female-only rooms, which are offered at most hotels. It is crucial to choose something that will make you feel comfortable and safe. Sizes of rooms also very, as some have three beds, while others can have up to 15 beds, maybe even more. Many people prefer smaller rooms as they want to share a room with fewer strangers. Keep in mind that dorm rooms are cheaper, but the mixed dorm hostel experience offers less privacy. However, in case you are traveling with a group, you can book an entire private room all to yourself, which is often even cheaper than opting for individual beds.
Be Wise When Choosing Your Bed
If you want to sleep comfortably throughout the night, you should choose your bed wisely. In case you are the first person to walk into the room, you should pick a bed that is furthest from the door, and away from the toilet. That way, you will enjoy a night of undisturbed sleep as people leaving the room or going to the bathroom during the night won’t wake you up. Additionally, it is a wise idea to opt for bottom bunk beds as they are easy to get in and out of, and you can hide your belongings under the bed frame. However, make sure your feet are at the end of the ladder, to avoid someone kicking you in the face when climbing down the ladder at night. It is also easier to charge your phone if you are close to the ground.
Don’t Forget to Pack Earplugs
You need to keep in mind that, even if you choose a peaceful hostel, it will never be completely noise-free. If you want to block out the inside and outside noise, and get enough good night’s sleep, one of the best ways to prevent this noise from disturbing you is to use earplugs. Unfortunately, some people find them uncomfortable, but if you are not one of them, you should consider this noise-blocking option.
Pack a Sleeping Mask
Another sleep-friendly item that you should consider using is a sleeping mask. It will save you from being woken up when someone turns on the lights during the night or points a phone torch to your face. These masks will also block out the light from the street and hallway, and they can help you fall asleep faster since your eyes will be closed. All in all, a sleeping mask is an excellent item that will aid your sleep.
Go to Bed Early
If you want to increase your chances of getting enough shut-eye, you should consider going to bed early. One of the most common problems that people staying in hostels have is that they lose sleep because of the noise. However, if you avoid this noise, you will be able to sleep properly. If you are already asleep when people causing the noise arrive, and use earplugs and sleeping mask, you probably won’t wake up until the morning. On the other hand, if the noise has already started, you will have a hard time drifting off to dreamland.
Dress in Layers
When you stay in a hostel room, you never know what the temperature is during the night. If a room is warm during the day, it doesn’t mean that it will stay warm at night. Also, if you are cold when you go to sleep, it doesn’t mean that room won’t get warm during the night because of the heat that all people in the room will generate from their bodies. If you want to sleep comfortably, it is the best idea to dress in layers. You should pack light PJs, socks, blanket, and even a hoodie, and if it gets cold, you should put on the additional layers.
Use Sleeping Pills
If the tips mentioned above don’t help you, and you are still struggling to get enough shut-eye, it is worth to consider using sleeping pills. You just need to find a pharmacy or a good supermarket and buy them. These pills work, and they will help you get enough rest at night and feel refreshed and full of energy in the morning, instead of being sleepy and tired the next day because of the lack of rest.
Benefits of Staying in a Hostel
Some of the advantages of staying in a hostel include:
In most cases, hostels are converted from older apartments and homes, and they are usually located in the center of major cities. On the other hand, hotels can’t say the same thing because of the strict building restrictions and codes. Hostels are not as popular in the United States, but they can be found anywhere in Europe, in most major cities. Also, they are usually near tourist sites and public transport lines.
Each hostel is one of a kind and has a unique charm due to age. Hostels are not like hotels, where, when you see one, you have seen them all. Also, every hostel has in-house owners that can tell you more about the city, point you in the right direction, and more.
The primary reason why people choose to stay in a hostel is the price. Some travelers opt for hostels because they can’t afford to stay in an expensive hotel. However, even people with large enough budgets often want to stay in a hostel because they simply think that spending a lot of money on accommodation is pointless, and they rather spend more cash on traveling and trying different things. Let’s be realistic, when we go on a trip, we remember the things that we have tried, and sight that we have seen, but we rarely remember how our hotel room looked like. That’s why many people want to cut down on accommodation costs. Of course, the prices of hostels vary from country to country, but it most cases, they are up to 70% cheaper than other forms of accommodation.
In some hostels, breakfast is included in the price while in others you have to pay extra for it, but the price is usually cheap. You can expect a good breakfast for this price, but you shouldn’t expect anything extravagant. You’ll get what you paid for. Also, hostels usually have fully equipped kitchens, and you can cost down the cost of eating out by cooking your food. It is a great way not only to save money on food but also to meet new people while preparing food together. However, make sure you clean up after yourself, and if you leave any food in the fridge, you should label it.
Another benefit of choosing hostels is that you have a chance to meet travelers from all over the world. You can talk to them, ask where they are from, and find out many interesting things about their countries and the places that they have visited. Also, you will be able to meet like-minded travelers, which is especially beneficial if you are traveling alone and need some company. You will also have a lot of fun in a hostel as they often organize parties, and some hostels even have hangout rooms filled with TVs, DVDs and games. Sometimes, hostels even have built-in bars and cafes where you can socialize and enjoy great drink specials.
Staff in hostels is generally helpful and friendly, and a perfect source of information about things that you want to see and do in the area, especially if your budget is limited. Since they are familiar with the city, they will recommend different things that are affordable to you. Also, they often organize tours of the area, and in some cases, these tours are completely free.
Drawbacks of Staying in a Hostel
Besides all the benefits mentioned above, hostels also have a fair share of disadvantages. If you are not very open-minded, you should consider booking a hotel instead. Some of the drawbacks include:
The Lack of Privacy
If you decide to stay in a hostel, you most probably won’t have your own room. Some hostels offer rooms with one bed, but something like this is rare. Even when hostels have private single and double rooms, they are in high demand, and usually not available, except if you book them months in advance. In most cases, you need to share a room with several other people, which is not an ideal solution for those who desire privacy. Things can get pretty cramped in a hostel, and your personal space will only be limited to your locker and bed. Bathrooms are also shared, which means that you will share a bathroom with a dozen people, which is not only uncomfortable to some, but it also often results in long waits to take a shower, or in the lack of hot water. If this sounds unpleasant, you should go to a hotel.
Old Buildings with Simple Furnishings
As we already mentioned, hostels are usually located in old buildings. Although this adds to their uniqueness, their age also has disadvantages, such as that they probably don’t have air conditioning, tend to get very cold during winter months, elevators can malfunction, and more. Problems tend to be quite common in old buildings. Furnishings usually range from bunk beds in bedrooms to old furniture in the lobby, and this lack of redecorating is one of the primary reasons why hostels can stay so inexpensive. Additionally, sometimes, they are located on streets with vacant buildings nearby, which can make travelers nervous.
The Risk of Theft
Another downside of hostels is that there is always a risk of theft. You share a room with around several people, sometimes more and sometimes less, and you have never met them before. When you are in a room full of strangers, you never know what someone can do. Although thefts in hostels have become less and less common, they are still a concern, and you are especially at risk if there aren’t any lockers or safes to put your belongings. You can avoid this risk by carrying valuable things with you, but it can be inconvenient.
Bonus Tips for Staying in Hostels
Now that you know more about the benefits and drawbacks of staying in a hostel and tips that can help you get enough sleep, we will suggest some bonus hostel tips. They will be especially beneficial if you are staying in a hostel for the first time.
- Don’t talk loudly when someone is trying to sleep.
- Hide your valuable belongings under the pillow or a mattress. It is a better idea to hide your valuables in the further corner under your mattress or pillow than to worry that someone will steal your things.
- Don’t hit the light switch if others are sleeping. Instead, you should use your phone as a torch.
- Turn off your ringtone during the night or leave your phone on vibrate.
- Use the lockers, even if you are in a private room.
- Drink responsibly.
- Hide your money.
- Copy your passport and other documents and email them to you.
- Pack flip-flops as you will need them for the bathroom.
- Bring a fast-drying towel.
- Bring a padlock to secure your things.
- Get a multifunctional power plug adapter.
- Don’t pack lots of toiletries. Instead, get refillable travel-sized bottles.
- Don’t pack too much stuff.
- Leave your laptop at home.
- Leave fancy valuables at home, including expensive jewelry and pricey cameras.
- Pack a flashlight.
- Use plastic cutlery if you are worried about the cleanliness of the hostel’s cutlery.
- Be nice to the staff.
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Renata is an economist who has always had a passion for writing. She is a dog lover, Netflix addict and a sleepaholic. When she is not busy doing sleep research, she spends her time reading books, hiking and playing video games.