For a lot of travelers, staying in hostels is an ideal way to see places cheaply. While technology has undoubtedly made travel easier, it’s made hostel stays more complicated.
You might think you know how to do hostels. But technology has added some new no-nos that didn’t exist fifteen years ago.
Don’t be fooled: While guests of twenty or more different nationalities may still share your space, there are still the familiar old annoyances—like people talking too loudly and that inexplicable thud of someone jumping from their bunk bed at 3 a.m. But now you can add these 21st-century manners for co-existing in the cheapest forms of shared accommodation. Heed them, and you will avoid getting sworn at in twenty or more foreign languages.
No FaceTiming In public
It’s obvious that starting a video chat in your bunk after 9 p.m. is not going to win you any more new friends than starting a noisy phone call would. But what’s even more annoying is doing it in public areas, where everyone has to listen to both sides of the conversation. Not to mention the fact you’ll be rudely broadcasting pictures of your fellow guests in your background—let’s hope they’re not changing at the time. Instead, simply plug in some headphones, head outside, and above all, just talk quietly.
Don’t hog the outlets
Considering today’s world and their target demographic, you’d expect hostels to be fully equipped with plenty of outlets and USB ports. Sadly, that’s not the case, particularly for the many hostels that are set up in older buildings. There are still places that operate with a precious few outlets, including in public spaces. If that’s the case, use one plug at a time. Charging a laptop, camera, phone, and every other piece of technology might save time, but is not the most thoughtful thing to do. Remember sharing is caring. Better advice: Travel with a power strip so you can create multiple personal plugs by taking up just one public outlet. Sharing your extra outlets will be a great way to make new friends.
No downloading huge files
I recently stayed in a hostel on an island off the coast of Okinawa, Japan. There were huge signs warning “No Torrenting” and even threatening eviction for violators. Downloading massive movies slows down the connection for everyone to the point where a Facebook page won’t even load. So instead, head to a nearby café or download everything you need before you leave home so that everyone can upload their adventures to Instagram in harmony.
Be extra vigilant about your devices
Thefts have always been common at hostels. But with the latest tech costing so much, it’s important to keep an eye on your stuff. Don’t leave your phone charging on the bed and walk out of the room. I recently had my Google Pixel 2 stolen, along with the gorgeous photos I had taken, and I still haven’t recovered. Lock up all your valuable belongings with your own padlock. Buy travel insurance and trust no one. And constantly upload your images to a cloud server in case of theft.
Keep podcasts personal
Don’t assume everyone wants to listen to the latest true crime podcast or the new episode of “Pod Save America,” no matter how good you think they are. I’ve heard one too many boring self-help podcasts during shower time at hostels. Enjoy the silence. I know being alone with your thoughts might be a challenge for some people, but they’d have a better chance of making friends if they would just put their earbuds in when they want private time. The same goes for music, Netflix, or videos on Facebook. Keep your volume low to avoid angry stares and unwanted enemies. A cheap pair of corded headphones are your friend—and they don’t require recharging.