5 Simple Steps to Hostel Etiquette (And Not Being a Tool)

Just recently I’ve had a bad run of terrible hostel experiences. Maybe I’m getting a little older and crankier, maybe I’m sick of sharing a room with 7 other people, or maybe a little bit of both. Either way it got me thinking about the unwritten rules of hostel etiquette and sharing personal space with random travelers from all of the world.

If you’ve spent any time in dorms over your travels, chances are you’ll know exactly what, or who, I’m talking about. There’s always one person who disrupts the natural flow. Whether you’re in the party hostel where ‘anything goes’, or the quiet family run place, there’s always a general hostel etiquette that keeps the place running smoothly.

You can be a seasoned veteran, or a newbie just about to pack the bags, but whoever you are, don’t be that one tool who breaks the most simple of hostel etiquette. Here’s a list of the simplest of rules to get you through hostel life.


No Getting Dirty in the Dorms

We get it! You’re travelling solo, meeting interesting single people from all over the world and after a couple of drinks everything starts to flow a little easier. But before you think about having some ‘quiet’ sex in the dorm, remember this! You are DEFINITELY not as quiet as you think you are. Want some more space, privacy and a place to wash up after? Head to the showers.


Being a Slackpacker

Here we go, the classic ‘packing the bags in the early morning drama’. How do people not understand this one? If you’ve got a 4am bus departure the next day, the intelligent person would think to pack their bags the night before and be ready to get up and leave at the sound of their alarm. Understandably you need a few minuets to collect your thoughts, maybe even a couple of seconds with the light on, but for fucks sake, get your gear and get out!


hostel etiquette
Don’t even think about packing this at 3am!

No Shitting Where You Eat

This is another one that should go without saying, but apparently not everyone gets it. Finding a decent hostel with a kitchen can be a rare thing in some towns, so the last thing you want is to find one that looks like a complete pig sty. Unless you’re backpacking with your mum and she loves to clean up after you, try to keep the kitchen clean.


Gonna leave this for someone else?

If It’s Not Yours, Don’t Touch It

Man, these are starting to write themselves. Whether it be food in the kitchen, toiletries in the bathrooms or stuff in the dorms. We’re all staying in dorms because we’re cheap, don’t take what little we have away from us. Especially alcohol, that’s just a low blow!


Avoid Sleeping Naked

And to top it off. Recently I woke up to the sun rising on the beautiful volcanic island of Ometepe, Nicaragua. I looked out the window and saw a rich blend of yellows and pinks swirling around the clouds. After taking a moment to appreciate the beauty I turned onto my left side, only to have a hairy set of balls staring at me from across the room. You may like to sleep naked at home, but no one wants to wake up to that.


Can you think of any other obvious ones? Feel free to add them to the comments list!

Published by

Julian Hatfield

Jules is an avid traveler, community development worker and a surfing addict. He's spent the past four years working in non-profits throughout Latin America and Southeast Asia, with a lot of island pit-stops and wild adventures along the way. Adventure travel that respects and gives back to local culture and environment is his main priority...and Mexican food. Wanna know more?

6 thoughts on “5 Simple Steps to Hostel Etiquette (And Not Being a Tool)”

  1. If it is not yours don’t touch is one of the biggest pet peeves I have about hostels. People should respect your things and personal space.

    1. Yeah it’s something that never changes no matter where you go. From grungy squatters to upper class hostels. Just read your list, couldn’t be truer about the Golden Rule. Where is the common sense?

  2. Oh my… I recognize all of them. Like you said, most people understand these unwritten rules when staying in a hostel, but there are some nitwits left in the world.

    My biggest pet peeve is when they wake me up for something stupid like packing bags inside the room. Last year a girl managed to wake everyone in a 10 bed dorm by packing and unpacking her bag with the lights on for 30 (!) minutes! She was so surprised when everybody asked her to leave…

  3. Sooooo true! My first stay in a hostel I unfortunately was one of these people, but as I’ve continued to travel and grow as an adult, I’ve stopped doing such things. We have to take in consideration the people around us. We’re all out there trying to have an amazing experience. Why ruin for the next person?

    1. I think we’ve all been there at some stage Sadie. I’m pretty sure I wrote half this list based of my own first backpacking trip haha 😛 We’re always wiser for the mistakes we make… hopefully!

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