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Are Hostels Safe? Travel Safety Tips When Staying in Dorms
Concerned about hostel safety? Is it safe in hostels?
Many young people opt to stay in hostels during their travels as these are a cheap alternative to hotels or other forms of accommodation. But are they also safe? When traveling around the world you'll want to make sure you're staying in safe hostels. Nobody likes to have their belongings stolen or to be annoyed by fellow dorm roommates. This article shares some tips from personal experience about how to travel safely when staying in hostels.
The precautions in this article take only a few minutes but they can save you a lot of trouble. You can have fun all you want the rest of the time but by taking various safety measures you'll be a lot safer when something does go wrong.
What follows now are my tips for staying safe in hostels!
Hostel safety tips
- Use the provided lockers for valuable belongings. Some hostel dorm rooms provide a locker for each roommate. Other hostels have lockers in a communal area. Depending on how big they are try to put as much of your valuable belongings in there. As I said in one of my other articles about staying in hostels (see below), I could have had a lot of money if I had stolen every laptop or phone that I had access too.
Please don't be so careless about your stuff! You're here to see something of the world and to meet nice people but that is no reason to ignore the basics. You don't know exactly who you're staying with in the room and there are plenty opportunities to steal your stuff.
For example, your roommate may have to leave the room very early because he / she is traveling onwards. If your laptop is still out there in the open, it can be grabbed easily. You are still asleep but within moments your roommate has left the hostel with your laptop. Before you trust your belongings with people you don't know, make sure you first get to know them a bit before doing so.
If you take care of your stuff it is far less likely that something will be stolen. I have heard of several people whose stuff was stolen, even in modern countries such as Australia and New Zealand, as opposed to poor countries elsewhere in the world.
- If there are no lockers, give your valuable belongings for storage behind the counter. In Kuala Lumpur I stayed in a dorm room that couldn't even be locked. Fortunately the hostel was run by a very friendly family and I gave my valuable belongings for safe keeping behind the counter every day. Nothing was stolen and I could leave the hostel with a feeling that my stuff was safe.
It can also happen that there are lockers but just not enough for all hostel guests. In that case do the same thing: give it to someone behind the counter and collect it when you get back. In one hostel they also took a copy of my passport and attached it to my bag. That's a very secure way of identifying yourself when you get back: that way, nobody else can claim your back while you are away.
Still concerned? What is your travel attitude?
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- Keep your passport and money with you, even while you sleep.
I'm not taking any chances with my passport and my money while I'm
traveling. You can keep your wallet, digital camera, phone and passport
under your pillow while you sleep with the rest safely locked in
Sure, some people might read this and wonder what the world has come too but I'd rather have fun with strangers with my belongings than without. You'll meet many nice people and you'll have a great time but don't neglect common sense.
You don't know the culture or background of the people you're staying with (yet) so just keep your possessions safe in the meanwhile.
- Notify the staff of the hostel if anything suspicious or unacceptable happens to you or others. If someone exhibits unacceptable behaviour towards you or one of your travel mates then you should notify the hostel staff immediately. If needed they can taken action towards that hostel guest and they can also offer you to change rooms.
In one hostel I came across roommates that had a habit of sleeping in not just their bed but also the beds of others. Together with the people that I was traveling with, we decided to change rooms and everything was fine after that.
- Change rooms or hostels if you don't want to stay there any longer. If you don't trust one of your roommates, you can ask if you can change
rooms with hopefully very nice people. From experience I can tell you
that you'll meet many friendly and open people but you'll also meet
some plain weird people.
Some hostels, or even some rooms, are very busy with lots of music, drinking and party while others are calm and quiet. Whatever you're looking for, if you ended up in a room or hostel that you don't like, just leave!
Quite a few hostels have non-refundable payments so once you've paid for a certain number of nights, you cannot get your money back. This means you shouldn't book a long period of time in a hostel if possible. Just stay there for one or two nights and then extend your stay in that hostel if you like the place. If you don't like the hostel, you can always find another one nearby.
- Write down important phone numbers and make copies of important documents. You should know the phone numbers that you have to call when you need to block your debit or credit card. Don't keep these phone numbers in your wallet because that's most likely to get stolen, together with your debit and credit cards. Store them in your phone but also on paper somewhere, just in case your phone is stolen. It's also good to make a copy of your travel documents (such as flights) and your passport.
Having said all of this, it is my experience that many hostels are quite safe. You don't need to worry so much about having your belongings stolen or being harassed when you take precautionary measures. Hostels want you to stay safely in their accommodation so they'll provide all the support you need with lockers and storage rooms.
However, you are ultimately responsible for taking care of your belongings and yourself so keep the above tips in mind when traveling around the world. Happy traveling nonetheless!
Lonely Planet books
Tips when staying in hostels
I've written several articles about staying in hostels. Have a look at these articles if you're considering to stay in hostels during your travels:
- Things to Consider when Staying in Hostels
In this article I'll discuss some things that you should consider when staying in hostels. Should you sleep on the top or bottom bunk? Ensuite or shared facilities? I'll tell you the realities of both!
- What to Expect When Staying in a Hostel Dorm Room
Many travellers spend their nights in a dorm room of a hostel to save money on accommodation. What should you expect when staying in a hostel dorm room? Prepare yourself for the things listed in this article and you will be fine!
Going to Australia or New Zealand?
The following articles tell you about various hostels that I've stayed in in those countries, it's worth a look before booking:
- Staying in Hostels in Australia
Should you stay at a particular hostel in Australia or not? I'll share my thoughts on the hostels that I've stayed in during my travels through Australia.
- Staying in Hostels in New Zealand
My personal opinion on various hostels in New Zealand with excellent information on where to stay and what to expect. I've travelled in both islands and stayed in many hostels, including Base hostels and Nomads hostels.